One of the biggest struggles with modern reusable energy sources is the unreliability of the systems. Solar is dependent on sunlight and has no
functionality at night. Wind power is dependent on pressure systems
building wind strength, and solar uses “photovoltaic cells” that “must have
sunlight to create electricity”. Additionally, enough wind farms, which can be produced do to a lack of ability to store their energy, can have an effect on our weather patterns and impact “major hurricanes” by “removing energy from the air”. While these emerging reusable energy sources are great when working, how do we harness the excess energy produced to then use when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing?
According to a research team out of the Department of Energy’s Pacific
Northwest National Laboratory, they may have created a new battery
enhancement using “low cost metals” such as sodium and aluminum to
provide “safer and more scalable stationary energy storage system”.
The development is in the speed at which the battery can charge and
discharge energy. The new development of molten salt batteries seem to
absorb energy “much faster” than conventional high-temperature sodium
batteries. According to a resaercher in the group, Li Guosheng, they also “operate at a lower temperature” and have “excellent energy storage capacity”. Additionally,
these molten salt batteries use raw materials that are much more
abundant than those found in conventional sodium batteries and lithium ion batteries.
When comparing the new molten salt battery to a conventual lithium-ion
battery that can be found in your cell phone or electric vehicle, it is
important to note how it reaches a similar capacity while being much
cheaper and simpler to produce. These new batteries have a two stage
mechanical chemical reaction that is acidic. The addition of a seccond
reaction increases the overall capacity, allowing the battery to retain “82.8
percent” of peak charge capacity. The researchers wanted to apply this molten technology to the grid in order to maximize our conservation of energy storage from reusable sources. They used the molten salt technology in a flat cell solid state design that allowed for electrical discharge for over 28.2 hours under laboratory conditions. Compare this to our current lithium ion technology that can handle 10-12 hours and this will be able to drastically increase our ability to harness excess renewable energy and discharge it during nigh-time.
Lastly, when looking at the cost of this new battery technology, the researchers estimate $7.02 per kWh for the active materials. Compare this to “$151 per kWh” for our current lithium ion system makes the advancement even more important. Overall, while this technology is still in “coin cell testing phase” it makes promising enhancements to our current battery technology and sets the stage for future investment in renewable energy sources.
In AP Biology, we have learned about genetic diversity, adaptation and different genotypes within organisms. We see how dominant and recessive traits are passed from parents to offspring and the ways in which these traits appear physically, either in co-dominance or incomplete dominance. Our rapidly changing climate plays a key role in determining natural selection, and controlling the genotypes that aid offspring in survival. Take the Atlantic Killfish for example, a fish that has evolved genetically in order to tolerate high levels of toxins in polluted waters, which is a key adaptation of the environmental stressors it faces. Researchers have identified specific genes that are involved in this tolerance, including genes that code for proteins involved in the detoxification of pollutants, such as cytochrome P450 enzymes. The possible alleles for this gene are passed down through each generation of Atlantic Killfish, and will only become more common as climate change and pollutants continue to increase. Overall, AP Biology looks at the genetics and individuals genetic makeup which can help predict certain offsprings traits. With our changing climate, it is vital to understand what traits are necessary to keep organisms alive and realize the dangers of any single natural factor in an ecosystem changing too quickly.