Liquid Metal Power

Dec 04, 2021


Can we change the way we power our devices by rethinking rechargeable batteries with molten salt and novice students? Dr. Sadoway thinks so!

Lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) revolutionized power storage for everything from wrist watches to electric vehicles and they are packed with critical metals: lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. These metals are concentrated in various locations around the globe and must be mined refined, and combined, spurring concern of sustainability.1 We then rely on programing to regulate temperature of chemical reactions and promote the longevity for our devices that can get too hot and eventually fail to hold a charge.

Just last year, I replaced my laptop battery in a 3-hour Daddy/Daughter effort. We watched and re-watched YouTube videos on the intricate technology laced into my laptop, all while tracking a bazillion tiny screws the size of gnats! The question is, “Can we do better?” Dr. Donald Sadoway, Co-Founder of Ambri, thinks so! He began to design a battery made with inexpensive, ethically sourced components from politically stable environments-- one that was cheap to build, simple to maintain, easy to recycle, and without capacity fade or thermal runaway.2

The result? The Liquid Metal Battery “comprised of a liquid calcium alloy anode, a molten salt electrolyte and a cathode comprised of solid particles of antimony.”3

If you want to make something dirt cheap, make it out of dirt…and preferably dirt that is locally sourced. - Donald Sadoway, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Advisor 4

Sadoway’s principles for invention lead to the liquid metal battery:

  1. No Experts: Professor Sadoway intentionally did not seek out LiB experts, but rather engaged his students at MIT. He wanted a fresh take on the challenge of power storage. He employed metallurgy enthusiasts bringing a new outlook to an old problem. Who are your non-experts?
  2. Always Viable: Sadoway resisted the temptation of glamorous technology and the lure of getting published. Instead, he coined the phrase cost-informed discovery insisting the innovation is viable from the onset.5 What is the genuine problem to which you offer a viable solution?
  3. Price/Performance Ratio: Sadoway’s batteries retain chargeability beyond 99% and will for decades. Liquid metal and molten salt fit into large shipping containers and can power data centers.5 How are you balancing the cost of ownership with strict performance requirements?

Sadoway, who has been researching and designing this concept for over a decade, says this is tough tech, meaning his team can’t just code its way to a solution. It will take time to confirm the technology and increase adoption. (Listen, I thought rebuilding my laptop with a new battery was tough tech-- I was never so happy to see a computer boot up!)

Solutions that challenge the status quo take new ideas focused on fixing the real problem while balancing function with maintenance costs. Solutions that challenge the status quo take new ideas focused on fixing the real problem while balancing function with maintenance costs. Now, do you think we can do it without our own personal capacity fade and thermal runaway? I think so!

Now may God, the fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! Romans 15:13


Sources: 1National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Supply Chain of Raw Materials Used in the Manufacturing of Light-Duty Vehicle Lithium-Ion Batteries; 2, 4 Disruptive Investing: Ambri: A Battery that Could Change the World (32m 33s); 3 Ambri Incorporated: The Ambri Technology; 5 Boston University: Cost-informed Discovery of Grid-scale Storage; 6 Techerati: TerraScale to Leverage Ambri Liquid Metal Battery Technology at Reno Data Centre Campus; Air Quality News: Why Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Degrade Over Time?; TEDTalk 2012: The Missing Link to Renewable Energy (Donald Sadoway); MIT News: A Battery Made of Molten Metals.

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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