Aluminum batteries could be the perfect energy storage for mankind
Researchers from the Swiss Institute of Solar Technology gathered a team of scientists from seven European countries and received funding from the Horizon Europe Foundation to develop a promising project for aluminum energy storage. The project was named “Reveal,” and it aims to solve the key problem of green energy – how and where to store for the winter all the energy that wind turbines and solar panels will produce in the summer? The attention of scientists today is focused on the redox processes in metals.
According to calculations, pure aluminum has a specific energy capacity. If we break aluminum into balls 1 mm in diameter for convenience, just ten buckets of such material in the basement of a typical household could provide it with energy for 1-1.5 years.
Initially, aluminum must be charged, for which aluminum hydroxide is converted into pure aluminum by electrolysis. The process has an efficiency of 65%, requires a temperature of 800 ℃, special inert electrodes and industrial equipment, so the procedure will be carried out at special stations. But the reverse process of releasing energy can be organized in the same basement of the house; the necessary reaction of aluminum with water takes place at a temperature of no more than 100 ℃. The output is aluminum hydroxide, hydrogen for fuel cells and some heat for space heating.
There are also technologies for working with aluminum oxide that require higher temperatures, plus scientists are tasked with studying other methods of aluminum oxidation and reduction. The main thing is that once discharged, the aluminum battery is ready to work again, so the same metal ball can be used almost indefinitely. Pure aluminum can even be stored in the open air, it is safe, and the oxide film layer on the surface is less than 1 nanometer, so the energy loss will be less than 1%.
The Reveal project is technically complex, and we should not expect results before 2026. But if it succeeds, given the vast reserves of aluminum on Earth, humanity could have the perfect energy storage system.