Unprotected from years of undercover work, a Massachusetts power startup claims that in a few years they can scale out “the battery it needs to completely decommission coal and natural gas plants.”
Solving the key challenge with renewable energy, that of storage, Form Energy’s new battery technology, which they call the “Holy Grail”, abandons lithium for one of the most abundant minerals on Earth: iron.
Many battery startups are looking to create a battery system that can reliably store the energy generated when the sun is shining and the wind blows during those periods of stillness and darkness when no power can be created.
A deep dive into the inner workings of Form Energy by the Wall street journal revealed this gem of a quote, that there is a “Cambrian Explosion” in the battery and energy storage industry. GNN has reported on this story every step of the way, analyzing new technology from hydrogen cells, to aluminum lava, to giant towers that lift and drop huge metal weights.
How does it work
Form Energy Battery Uses the chemical reaction that creates oxide, that is, iron and oxygen, to store energy in a type of technology known as stage transition, which collects the energy emitted by matter when it is stressed or changes shape, for example from a gas to a liquid, or when it is lowered, it is supported and a giant weight is dropped again.
In the bronze tax, understanding these technologies without being an expert in thermodynamics or chemistry simply involves accepting the fact that since matter is energy, energy can be stored and released into ordinary elements as they change shape.
“Our first commercial product using our iron-air technology is optimized to store electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with legacy power plants,” Form writes on its website. “This product is our first step in addressing the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization – making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, including during multiple days of extreme weather, grid outages, or periods of low renewable generation.” .
“We have completed the science” He says Form Energy President and COO Ted Wiley, “What remains to be done is to scale from laboratory-scale prototypes to grid-scale power plants.”
Wiley from its Sommerville, Massachusetts location added that “the modules will be one-tenth the cost of any technology currently available for grid energy storage.”
Inside the battery cells, thousands of tiny pieces of iron are exposed to oxygen and rust, but when the oxygen is removed, the iron oxide reverts to iron. By controlling this process, the battery charges and discharges.
According to WBUR News BostonForm plans to install its first 1 MW pilot project at the Great River Energy power plant in Minnesota by 2023.
Behind this relatively unknown company are major investors such as the Italian oil giant Eni, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the subsidiary of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Breakthrough Energy, and the iron giant ArcelorMittal, which just pledged $ 200 million. in a series D funding round, hoping to acquire non-exclusive iron supply rights for the company’s batteries.
There are many other wonderful ideas on how to bring renewable energy storage to world markets, but not all of them will survive or attract the funds necessary to make your dreams come true.
However, the free market, by selecting the goods and services of one firm over those of another, naturally shifts talented workforce to other sectors where it can be better utilized, meaning that as soon as a small group of Battery companies attract most of the investment money, hundreds of innovative energy nerds will be unleashed on other substantial problems in society. A win-win.
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