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Donald Sadoway was Stephen Colbert's guest last night, I thought is this for real?
http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/420372/october-22-2012/donald-sadoway
He is a Professor from MIT who created this new invention. He wasn't warned about Stephen Colbert.

I dug up this interesting TED talk that gives more detail about the batteries and science involved.
http://www.ted.com/talks/donald_sadoway_the_missing_link_to_renewable_energy.html

How far would a Volt go with a set of these bad boys?
 

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Prof. Sadoway is very enthusiastic about his work! Here is a technology that is very suited for grid storage but not vehicles:
1. Sloshing liquid will cause electrodes and electrolyte to co-mingle.
2. The battery uses molten Magnesium, antimony and salt with melting points of 1200, 1167, and 1474 degrees F. I wouldn't want that stuff flying around in an accident.

I like his approach to inventing with practicality as the first premise. We may be soon be charging our Volts with electricity stored in liquid metal batteries!
 

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Sounds very similar to ZEBRA battery technology, which as been around for a while. The power and energy densities are great, but not without complication. Thermal management is a big deal for these batteries, and if I remember correctly, you can't discharge the battery for any amount of time before plugging it back in. Basically, it needs to have very regular access to a power source. You might not even be able to drive it to work and let it sit 8-9 hours before plugging in.
 

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I have seen this guy before. He is doing lots with battery technology- of various sorts. I remember his comment which went something like, 'If you want to make a battery dirt cheap, you should make it out of dirt.' In other words, readily available materials. He definitely was not ready for Colbert's style, as he barely got to mention anything of substance.
 

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Donald Sadoway's liquid metal battery has only achieved a top efficiency of 69 percent so far. Also... They have only been able to demonstrate 30 charge cycles before cell failure.

A traditional lead acid battery can achieve over 90% efficiency.

A lithium ion battery can can achieve close to 100% efficiency.

Mr. Sadoway's battery throws away 30% of the power that is put into it.

It is yet to be proven that this technology can be improved in overall efficiency and cycle life. I am not an MIT graduate... But I am a skeptic.
 

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I have seen this guy before. He is doing lots with battery technology- of various sorts. I remember his comment which went something like, 'If you want to make a battery dirt cheap, you should make it out of dirt.' In other words, readily available materials. He definitely was not ready for Colbert's style, as he barely got to mention anything of substance.
You can visit his web site. http://www.ambri.com

There you will STILL find NOT find much information of substance. You have to dig elsewhere for the real research results which are not very impressive.
 

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I met Dr. Sadoway in NY in 2009. I told him about Dr. Willet Kempton's work at U of Delaware in V2G. Many great minds out there developing solutions through the scientific method and basic research and applied science.
The Volt to me is a great example of applied science. Basic research needs continued support.
 

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Donald Sadoway's liquid metal battery has only achieved a top efficiency of 69 percent so far. Also... They have only been able to demonstrate 30 charge cycles before cell failure.

A traditional lead acid battery can achieve over 90% efficiency.

A lithium ion battery can can achieve close to 100% efficiency.

Mr. Sadoway's battery throws away 30% of the power that is put into it.

It is yet to be proven that this technology can be improved in overall efficiency and cycle life. I am not an MIT graduate... But I am a skeptic.
I just ran across the TED Talk about his liquid metal batteries. Presumably, the efficiency is low due to the high temperature that it operates at.

I like his approach to tackling grid storage -- use abundant and cheap materials and manufacturing techniques. I don't think the low efficiency is a big deal. Surely, it would be nice if it were higher, but any amount stored is better than the none we mostly have today for storing intermittent renewable energy sources. I'd be far more concerned about the cell failure after only 30 charge cycles. This seems like a far more serious problem that may be difficult to fix. For these batteries to be cheap grid storage, they need to last a really long time.

I'm a big fan of nuclear power, especially gen 4 fission and fusion research, but I would be happy if grid storage were developed such that traditional renewables could be a more realistic (IMO) option for providing a majority of future power. His type of thinking may help get us there. Think big industrial batteries developed for the grid which I think has real potential, rather than afterthought solutions like using recycled old EV batteries which I find to be far more dubious in it's potential.
 

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Donald Sadoway's liquid metal battery has only achieved a top efficiency of 69 percent so far. Also... They have only been able to demonstrate 30 charge cycles before cell failure.
I'm interested to see what their testing methods were. If they were testing cycles the way they do with other batteries (i.e., 100% charge to 100% discharge), I can see why these batteries would have such a short cycle life. Also, I'm curious as to how efficient the cells are between, say, 40% to 90% SOC. Just looking at these batteries logically, it seems to me that they should be left on all of the time, maintaining at least a minimum SOC (i.e., internals always stay at a liquid state). I know that the ZEBRA batteries that I referenced earlier do not like to be fully discharged or left unplugged for long periods, which is why most places would only sell them to OEMs rather than end users.

Basically, what I am saying is that I wouldn't discount this battery offhand because it doesn't fit our current ideal for battery technology. It functions differently than other batteries, but the planned implementation for it is also different. If used as a grid buffer or overflow, this technology seems very viable. Saying it is not is like saying that nuclear power plants are inferior to CNG because you can't cycle them as quickly.
 
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