From pv magazine USA
Solar and wind power have variability in their productive hours, as multi-day weather events can impact output. Therefore, multi-day storage that is cost-effective is important in grid reliability.
Boston startup Form Energy developed technology to address this need, revealing recently the chemistry behind their iron-air batteries. The company said its iron-air batteries can store renewables-sourced electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with conventional power plants. At full-scale production, Form Energy said the modules would deliver electricity at a tenth of the cost of lithium-ion batteries.
The iron-air battery is composed of cells filled with thousands of iron pellets that are exposed to air and create rust. The oxygen is then removed, reverting the rust to iron. Controlling this process allows the battery to be charged and discharged.
$200 million in Series D funding has been secured for the project, led by $25 million from ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund. ArcelorMittal will non-exclusively supply the iron materials for the battery system production, and Form Energy said it intends to source its iron domestically, manufacturing the batteries near where the iron was sourced.
The company’s first project is a 1 MW / 150 MWh pilot installation with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy, located near the American Iron Range. Form Energy said it expects to have the facility deployed at a Great River Energy power plant by 2023.
Mateo Jaramillo, CEO and Co-founder of Form Energy, said, “We conducted a broad review of available technologies and have reinvented the iron-air battery to optimize it for multi-day energy storage for the electric grid. With this technology, we are tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather or grid outages.”
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Amazing technology. It will revolutionize the Solar industry. A stiff competition for the Lithium-ion batteries.
How is reverting done??? Do iron boxes should be replaced by new? There are missing many details.
Metal Air Batteries are not new. Several companies have been trying to establish market momentum in stationary power for several years. As Radko states above many unanswered questions. This science is a low voltage battery 1.2+ Volts that does not charge nearly as effectively as lithium-ion, that means it’ll take 3 or 4 of them to replace a 4.2-4.8 volt lithium ion battery cell. This is Form Energy’s first major industrial implementation (with Great River). Hopefully all will go well over the next two years while they pilot test these batteries in real world conditions. Finally this is the energy business not high technology, with major countries not just companies investing 100’s of billions of dollars in funding and building Giga factories and supply chains for lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries. This will drive down the cost of these battery cells significantly. We need ultra low cost battery systems for stationary power that are reliable and available globally.
As Rajko suggests, how are these batteries recharged? In other words how is the oxygen removed from the iron as they simply state. That is not an easy task. Aluminum-air batteries have also been proposed but the spent aluminum is replaced with fresh. That is not recharging but places a big burden on aluminum refiners to regenerate aluminum from oxide. This chemical process is even tougher than for iron which is no treat either.
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