What is a Molten Salt Battery

Molten Salt Battery

When it comes to green energy, the intermittent nature of renewable sources like wind, solar, and tidal power presents a difficult problem for the electrical grid management. Peak energy production often doesn’t correlate well with peak energy demand, necessitating a means of storing excess energy when consumption is low. As renewable energy sources become more prevalent, and the need to curb fossil fuel emissions continues to increase, finding a new grid energy storage solution has never been more important. It is the final piece of technology required to bring about wide scale adoption of renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines.

  • What is a Molten Salt Battery?

Molten salt batteries, especially liquid metal batteries, are increasingly gaining interest from the energy community as a grid energy storage solution for renewable energy sources. Combining high energy and power densities, long life times, and low cost materials, they have the potential to meet the unique demands of grid scale energy storage. A molten salt battery is a class of battery that uses a molten salts electrolyte. The components of molten salt batteries are solid at room temperature, allowing them to be stored inactive for long periods time. During activation, the cathode, anode and electrolyte layers separate due to their relative densities and immiscibility. The molten salt layer in the middle serves as an electrolyte with a high ionic conductivity, and is the medium through which the ionic species travel as the battery charges and discharges.

  • Advantages of Molten Salt Batteries

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SoNick battery BMS or Battery Management System

Some Energy storage batteries have a built-in BMS or Battery Management or Monitoring System to monitor how a battery operates and how it talks to the grid. This is an electronic system that manages a batteries function by protecting the battery from operating outside its “Safe Operating Area” both for the batteries health and to prevent any accidents that the battery could cause by malfunctioning.

The internal BMS monitors and controls all charging and safety aspects of the battery. The BMS will also keep you informed of the state of the battery so you can monitor the batteries health.

When integrated with other SoNick batteries the SoNick BMS synchronises the operation of the battery bank so that all batteries work together as one large battery. Continue reading “SoNick battery BMS or Battery Management System”

Battery Drawdown Capabilities

 

Energy storage batteries come in a variety of different sizes and weights and each have different characteristics.  Here is a comparison of some different battery technologies currently available in Australia with an indication of the amount of power that can be drawn down.

You can see from this image that size is not necessarily a good indication of the power that is available to be used from a battery. Some batteries have much better energy density than others.

Another thing to consider is how much power you can actually draw from the battery at any point in time. Our SoNick battery can draw 150 amps for 4 hours continuously but some other batteries are very limited in the amount of power that can be used, maybe only with enough to boil a kettle and little more. Continue reading “Battery Drawdown Capabilities”

Battery Storage Possibilities

 

Many households and businesses already attach battery storage to their clean energy systems. Now is the time to grow the industry, encourage the take-up of storage and help make Australia a renewable energy leader. With public interest high, now is the time for a targeted, five-year support package to drive down costs and put battery storage in reach of every household and business. Continue reading “Battery Storage Possibilities”

Comparing battery technologies

Until recently lead acid batteries have been the major player in the energy storage industry, particularly for off grid installations but they have serious limitations in terms of requiring customer maintenance and of course they are made from toxic materials.

Recently, Tesla’s lithium ion batteries have received a lot of attention due to their advertised low price and excellent marketing, however the lithium ion batteries are now receiving attention due to their fire risk on the release of embodied energy. Lithium ion batteries have a smaller operating range than most other batteries and won’t operate efficiently above 35 – 40°C. Also, lithium is a toxic material and is in limited supply and at this stage can’t be recycled effectively.

There are some new technologies coming onto the market, such as Redflow’s zinc bromide, Aquion’s sodium ion salt water batteries, improved lead acid and many variations of lithium battery. These each have advantages and disadvantages, both in terms of performance and size.
Depth of Discharge (DOD)

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How much battery capacity do you need?

 

When people start looking at energy battery storage one thing they often ask is I have “x” kW solar on my roof at the moment, how much battery storage do I need?

This isn’t an easy question to answer and there definitely isn’t a one size fits all answer. If someone tries to sell you a battery without asking about your lifestyle and what your needs are then walk away. Chances are they are just trying to sell you their battery and not really working towards what is best for you. The cheapest battery upfront may turn out to be more expensive in the long run if the battery technology isn’t matched to your needs.

The amount of storage isn’t really related to the amount of solar you have on your roof (although it is definitely part of the equation) but it is more to do with how much power you use on a daily basis, how long you want backup power for and what appliances you want to operate from the battery. Continue reading “How much battery capacity do you need?”

So much conflicting information on battery storage

 

When consumers go online to compare different batteries there is so much conflicting information available it is very difficult to get a clear picture of what is available and to understand what is happening in the industry. What is important is you compare similar products and don’t just listen to what salespeople are telling you.

If a product has been in use for a number of years the quoted figures are more likely to be reliable than if a product is new and hasn’t yet been tested in real life conditions. Generally batteries are tested in factories at 25 degrees. This can produce different results than are experienced in real life when temperatures vary widely.

Currently there are no relevant battery standards in Australia Continue reading “So much conflicting information on battery storage”

Why do people look at battery storage?

With battery storage set to grow in the next few years there are many people that are interested in looking at this technology but there are also a wide variety of reasons that people are doing so.

Up until now most people that have used batteries to store their energy have been those that have been in situations where it was not possible, either for economical or proximity reasons to connect to the electricity grid. However, there are now many more reasons that people are considering battery storage and many more questions people are asking about the batteries they are looking at.

Over the last 5 – 10 years there has been a big push to install rooftop solar panels to capture electricity to use on the building the panels are installed on. This was encouraged by governments as they introduced feed-in tariffs to encourage people to install solar. This was so successful, as the general public took up these offers that governments soon decreased the feed-in tariffs and now they are extremely low or non-existent, depending on your state. Continue reading “Why do people look at battery storage?”