Rounding up guidelines for lawless land of batteries

Friday, 6 March 2020

Climate crisis solutions are underpinned by calls for efficient use and storage of renewable energy sources. While batteries plays a key role in this debate, a review of over 230 papers shows the lack of standard measurements means we struggle to know which is best.

Wind turbines on grassy hill

In the past six decades alone, global CO2 levels have risen by 100 parts per million (ppm), from 313 ppm to 412 ppm. While renewable energy technologies – like solar and wind – are already proving cheaper energy than fossil fuels in two-thirds of all locations, innovation still lags on the energy storage front.

“We have the technology to generate renewable energy,” said Professor Thomas Nann, Head of the School for the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

“What we need now is an efficient way to store it for times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.”

With its ability to maintain an uninterrupted power supply and provide load shifting, batteries are quickly becoming the popular choice for renewable energy storage, says Professor Nann.

However, findings from a new review conducted by Professor Nann and his team show that a lack of standard metrics makes it difficult to know which battery is best.

“We do ourselves a disservice by not implementing guidelines for battery research and development,” said Professor Nann.

“The discovery of a battery that contains rare or expensive materials and is brilliant at storing energy will be useless at combating the climate crisis. We need battery materials that are cheap and accessible.”

To be published in Materials Today Advances, the findings were based on a review of over 230 papers, and makes suggestions for seven universal measurements, alongside best-practice tips for performance testing and reporting.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science, Professor Lee Smith, said the research highlighted the academics’ commitment to deliver affordable solutions for international problems.

“The climate crisis is a global problem that requires global cohesiveness. I congratulate Professor Nann and his team on research which will enable us to make educated decisions around the best ways to store renewable energy and end our reliance on fossil fuels.

The complete review can be accessed via Materials Today Advances.

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