Modern electric grids are limited in their ability to store excess energy for on-demand power. As a result, electricity must be generated on a constant basis to perfectly match demand. Grid-scale storage technologies have the potential to shift this dynamic, revolutionizing how our grid uses and distributes energy. Reliable, high-performing storage technologies could provide a considerable amount of power on very short demand, lowering costs to utilities and consumers alike.
These powerful technologies would enable renewable sources of energy – often limited by their intermittency – to be more effectively integrated into the electric grid. Robust grid-scale batteries, for instance, could store energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels, to be deployed when the sun isn’t shining or the wind stops blowing.
In 2010, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded Fluidic $3 million to develop a low-cost, high-power module for rechargeable Zinc-air batteries. If successful, Fluidic’s technology would allow for versatile, dependable grid-scale storage of renewable energy.
Until now, most energy storage companies have shied away from using Zinc-air batteries for applications that require periodic bursts of power, such as grid-scale storage. The batteries are known for their high energy, low cost, and long run-time, but are generally used exclusively in small, non-rechargeable devices like hearing aids. Fluidic, however, recognized the technology’s potential to transform how our nation stores and utilizes energy throughout the electric grid.
Fluidic is combining the innate benefits of Zinc-air batteries with its own innovative chemistry to develop a high-power, high-efficiency, and fast-response energy storage solution. The promising technology could last up to 5,000 charge and discharge cycles – enough to support grid-scale integration of wind and solar power.
Fluidic’s battery could also help optimize electric grid performance by providing clean, high-quality back-up power. When utilities need additional power – due to increased demand or unexpected outages – they often rely on dirty diesel generators. Zinc-air batteries offer a clean alternative for back-up power that can be dispatched quickly and easily. A more stable grid would be resilient to potential disruptions and better equipped to provide reliable baseload power.
Fluidic, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a spin-out of Arizona State University. The company’s progress will be featured at next week’s Summit. Fluidic will also be among hundreds of innovative companies displaying breakthrough technologies at this year’s Summit Technology Showcase.