Researchers at the CUNY Energy Institute have developed a rechargeable zinc anode battery system that helps cut down on daytime energy costs. This prototype system set up in the basement of Steinman Hall on the college campus, is cheaper than nickel-cadmium batteries, non-toxic, has high energy densities and a fast discharge rate to keep up with energy demands. College researchers are looking to commercialize their invention and begin selling it to customers within the year.

Zinc anode batteries while better and cheaper, are less commonly used than other batteries because they have problems with dendrite formation. Dendrites are crystalline structures that form in zinc cell batteries and cause them to short out. To keep this from happening the researchers have developed an advanced battery management system (BMS) that controls the charge/discharge protocol in flow-assisted batteries.

This battery system is particularly beneficial in the cost saving arena. These rechargeable batteries are set up to charge overnight when usage costs for electricity are low and discharge during the day when costs increase. Currently, the 36 kWh system is being expanded by researchers to provide an eventual 300 kWh.

This move will allow the battery system to provide 30% of Steinman Hall’s daytime energy usage needs and will save an estimated $6,000 a month. This means that researchers need not wait until nighttime to perform their high-energy usage tasks. They can microwave some popcorn, watch a movie on the big screen, build a photography website and run that mass energy spectrometer during daylight hours.

Another great thing about these zinc anode batteries is that they can provide between 5,000 and 10,000 cycle charges and they are designed to last longer than ten years. Part of the problem with setting up a rechargeable battery system is that they do eventually burn out and need replacing.

These longer life batteries cut down on replacement costs. CUNY researchers say that the battery system can be set up for a cost of about $300 to $500 per kWh range, but the technology is developing and costs are rapidly dropping. They expect the price per kWh range to drop down to $200 in the next year. The cost of setting up such a system could be paid back in just two years.

Initially, the battery system will be used in commercial and business applications by companies that need rechargeable systems to help cut energy costs. This system will most likely replace nickel-cadmium batteries in businesses that are already set up to use battery systems. CUNY researchers plan on opening the production facility for their new system near the City College of New York Campus.

A viable long-term zinc anode battery system can help in more than just saving daytime energy costs. This system is more environmentally friendly than lead-based or nickel-cadmium batteries, helping to preserve good health and lives. It’s also cheaper to buy and install, which is a great boon for everyone from a jersey city exterminator to your Aunt Sue who might be on a budget but still want to install a system that is step closer to getting off the grid.

Photo Credit: Presleyjesus via Flicker Creative Commons

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