Science Weekly: Harvard has breakthrough on renewable energy

Harvard scientists are at it again. This time, the scientists and engineers at Harvard University have demonstrated a new type of battery that could possibly change the way electricity is stored. This will make renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power more reliable and economically viable.

The battery was built, tested and designed in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.  

The metal-free flow battery relies on the small organic molecules called quinones. These molecules are similar to the molecules that store energy in plants and animals. The quinones used in the Harvard battery were almost identical to the quinones in the rhubarb plant. The molecules were carefully screened and synthesized in hopes of finding the best molecules for the battery.

More engineers have begun to focus their attention on flow-battery technology, which up until now has relied on expensive chemicals that are sometimes difficult to maintain. Most flow batteries also rely on precious metals as their electrolytes. This made the energy costs for a more efficient battery not economically viable.

The new flow battery by Harvard engineers has already performed as well as their more expensive counterparts.

With the use of organic molecules there are significantly more possibilities, some of which, researchers speculate, may be terrible.

These results were published in “Nature” on Jan. 9, 2014.

Information compiled from