Photo: masdar.ae

Abu Dhabi has the the largest storage battery in the world, aimed at reducing the price of renewable energies. It presents an important novelty because it uses a sodium-sulfur model.

Abu Dhabi is the capital of United Arab Emirates and it is one of the major oil producers. Despite the fossil fuel trade, it is also investing heavily in the use of renewable energies.

Abu Dhabi now has the larger storage battery of the world. It’s a 108 MW / 648 MWh monster that’s five times the size of the Hornsdale battery, installed in Australia by Tesla a year ago.

There is an important difference between the battery in Australia and that in Abu Dhabi. Tesla’s unit used lithium-ion battery cells. The Abu Dhabi complex uses cells from sodium-sulfur battery.

Sodium-sulfur batteries.

© Science Direct

It is a high temperature model which operates at 300 ° C and uses a solid electrolyte. One electrode is molten sodium and the other is molten sulfur. The reaction between them is the basis of the cellular reaction.

Typical units are rated at 50 kWh and 400 kWh. The shelf life is 15 years or 4500 cycles, according to Science Direct.

Their efficiency is around 85% and they have a response time of 1 millisecond. Other advantages are that no use lithium or cobalt, two relatively rare objects. Instead, they use sodium and sulfur, which are abundant in nature and inexpensive.

However, liquid sodium is very reactive and can become explosive in the presence of water. For this reason, robust cellular structures.

The entire cell is surrounded by a steel case
which is protected, usually by chromium and molybdenum, against corrosion inside.

This outer receptacle serves as a positive electrode, while the Liquid sodium serves as a negative electrode. It is sealed with an airtight aluminum oxide cap.

The Abu Dhabi Battery is made up of 10 separate batteries located in different locations. However, they are connected and controlled as one, which is essentially a virtual battery.

160 billion dollars in investments.

Abu Dhabi is investing heavily in renewable energies. Plan to spend 160 billion dollars by 2030 in renewable energy and has set itself the goal of getting 60% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050, one of the most ambitious goals in the Middle East.

Now that Abu Dhabi has taken the lead on sulfur-sodium batteries, other countries could look into this technology, especially if the longer expected lifespan leads to cost reduction total energy storage.

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