Battery Research Advances Energy Storage on the Grid

In 2011, the number of electric cars on the road increased as General Motors rolled out the Volt and Nissan rolled out the Leaf. 2012 will see greater infrastructure devoted to EV cars as the Chicago area gets more charging stations, but another development important for the future of EV is changing storage (not only in automobile batteries, but on the grid so the energy charging the automobiles may be derived from wind and solar rather than fossil fuels). Researchers at Stanford University are working on that type of technology.

The sun doesn’t always shine and the breeze doesn’t always blow and therein lie perhaps the biggest hurdles to making wind and solar power usable on a grand scale. If only there were an efficient, durable, high-power, rechargeable battery we could use to store large quantities of excess power generated on windy or sunny days until we needed it. And as long as we’re fantasizing, let’s imagine the battery is cheap to build, too.

Now Stanford researchers have developed part of that dream battery, a new electrode that employs crystalline nanoparticles of a copper compound.

In laboratory tests, the electrode survived 40,000 cycles of charging and discharging, after which it could still be charged to more than 80 percent of its original charge capacity. For comparison, the average lithium ion battery can handle about 400 charge/discharge cycles before it deteriorates too much to be of practical use.

If you are interested in learning more about energy systems as they relate to transportation, Roosevelt seminars including SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, and Planning (offered this spring online) and SUST 310 Energy and Climate Change (also offered this spring online) may be of interest. For more information on these or any other of our courses, please visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email

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