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liquid metal battery

A technology invented by MIT Professor Donald Sadoway that is designed to provide battery storage to compensate for temporary imbalances in the U.S. electrical grid as more renewable energy is added. Massive electrical storage must be created to compensate for the periods in which there is no wind or sunshine.

Sadoway's inspiration came from his earlier work with aluminum smelting, which uses high temperatures to melt the metal. The technology from Ambri Inc., Cambridge, MA ( uses molten magnesium and animony for electrodes that are encased in cylindrical modules. The finished product is expected to house these modules in 40-foot long containers, and there would be far fewer modules than conventional battery technologies would allow and at less cost. See batteries.

Liquid Metal Battery Elements
Under high temperature, magnesium atoms lose two electrons and become magnesium ions that flow through to the animony, where they form an alloy. To charge the battery, electricity drives the magnesium out of the animony back to the magnesium electrode.


Following is a summary of the characteristics of popular battery technologies. For more details, see lead acid, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, lithium ion, lithium polymer, liquid metal battery, zinc air, CMOS battery and memory effect.


                   Recharge         Dis-
         Energy    Cycles    Fast   charge
         Density   To 80%   Charge  Per
 Type    (Wh/Kg)*  Capacity  (hrs)  Month

  Cadmium   45-80    1500     1      20%

 Nickel Metal
  Hydride   60-120  300-500   2-4    30%

  Ion      110-160  300-500   2-4    10%

  Polymer  100-130  300-500   2-4    10%

 Lead Acid   30-50  200-300   8-16    5%

                    To 50%
  Alkaline    80      50      2-3    0.3%

  Data courtesy of
  Cadex Electronics Inc. (

  * Wh/Kg = watt hours per kilogram

A Lot of Batteries
This roomful of lead acid batteries stands ready to drain itself entirely in less than a minute. It serves as interim power for a large datacenter between the time a power outage has been detected and the generators can come up to full speed.

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Before/After Your Search Term
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