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Home Energy Storage Breakthrough

 

by Energy Matters

Firewater fuel - hydrogen energy storage
In the not-too-distant future, cutting ties to the grid may not have to involve traditional deep cycle batteries, or even new-generation lithium based devices. 
  
Researchers at the University of Calgary, Canada have developed affordable and efficient catalysts for converting electricity into chemical energy; which could have major implications for home based energy storage.
  
Electrolyzers use electricity to break up water into hydrogen and oxygen, which can be stored and re-converted to electricity when required. Their use has been somewhat limited in part by the expense involved with catalyzers utilized in electrolysis - these are usually rare earth metals.
  
Curtis Berlinguette and Simon Trudel have used abundant metal compounds or oxides (including iron oxide aka 'rust') to create mixed metal oxide catalysts they say perform as well or better than expensive catalysts now on the market - and at cost up to 1,000 times less.
  
Berlinguette and Trudel have patented the technology and created a spin-off company, FireWater Fuel Corp., to commercialize their electrocatalysts.
  
"This breakthrough offers a relatively cheaper method of storing and reusing electricity produced by wind turbines and solar panels," says Curtis Berlinguette, associate professor of chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Energy Conversion.
  
Simon Trudel, assistant professor of chemistry, believes their effort "opens up a whole new field of how to make catalytic materials. We now have a large new arena for discovery."
  
FireWater Fuel Corp. expects to have a commercial-scale product to market in 2014, and a residential prototype electrolyzer ready for testing by 2015.
  
With electricity prices on the increase in many parts of the world and assuming the system is priced reasonably; there will be no doubt plenty of interest from households wanting to slash their power bills - or who wish to cut ties to mains power altogether.
  
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