Batteries are the weak link in both off-grid energy applications as well as electric vehicles. Until this obstacle is overcome, these much needed uses will remain niche areas. Since I believe almost all of our problems can be overcome if we set our hearts and minds on solving them, I think effective electric storage technologies will be eventually developed.
There are some new developments hold promise. One of these is a refuelable zinc-air battery. This battery uses zinc pellets in an alkaline electrolyte. It has the advantage that zinc is abundant, cheap and safe. It is also easily recycled. You can read a short PDF file describing the technology – here. The other new development is for what is called a “flow cell” being developed by MIT. This battery uses a liquid lithium-based electrolyte. It also is refuelable.
I remember when I was a boy, carbon-zinc cells were the only batteries around for household use. Alkaline cells were new, exotic and expensive. Now we have cheap rechargeables that dwarf those batteries. What the future holds is anyones guess right now, but it looks bright.
Refuelable Battery by Provide Your Own is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.