Lithium-Polysulfide Flow Battery Could Help Solar and Wind Energy Power the Grid

Currently the electrical grid cannot tolerate large and sudden power fluctuations caused by wide swings in sunlight and wind. Among the most promising batteries for intermittent grid storage today are 'flow' batteries, because it's relatively simple to scale their tanks, pumps, and pipes to the sizes needed to handle large capacities of energy. Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have designed a low-cost, long-life flow battery that could enable solar and wind energy to become major suppliers to the electrical grid. The researchers created this miniature system using simple glassware. Adding a lithium polysulfide solution to the flask immediately produces electricity that lights an LED. A utility version of the new battery would be scaled up to store many megawatt-hours of energy.