Liquid battery could charge green energy… so says TED

Here’s a great quote… “If we are going to get the country out of the current energy crisis, we can’t drill our way out, we can’t bomb our way out but we can do it in the old-fashioned way – invent our way out”. The quote was delivered by MIT Engineering Professor Donald Sadoway on March 1st, at the TED’s semi-annual gathering in Los Angeles. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a series of conferences designed to present cutting-edge ideas and speakers are given only 18 minutes to give deliver their pitch.

Sadoway was introducing a novel formulation for a liquid battery. Sadoway and his team of students at MIT were so confident in their creation that they started Liquid Metal Battery Corporation and plan to have the latest iteration – a 36-inch version dubbed ‘bistro table’ available in two years. The company plans to eventually bring to market a liquid battery the size of a 40-foot shipping container and capable of holding enough electricity to serve the daily needs of 200 typical US households. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is among the company’s backers

At its simplest, the battery is composed of three layers. Liquid metals of different densities – and maintained at temperatures of around 500 deg C – sandwich a layer of molten salt. The metals act as positive and negative electrodes, and the salt as the electrolyte. The battery creates a current in the same way as a traditional battery and, by reversing the current, can also re-energise itself. The key metals in the battery are common antimony and magnesium. Sadoway believes his batteries will be significantly cheaper to produce than its lithium-ion equivalent.

The following two-minute video, from Bill Gates’ blog, features LMBC and Professor Sadoway:

If you would like to read more about the MIT Team’s latest initiative, just click on

And just in closing, TED started out in 1984 and is devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

There are apparently more than 900 TEDTalks now available, with more added each week. The talks are subtitled in English, and many are subtitled in various languages.

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