Researchers at Stanford University demonstrated the use of nanoparticles of a copper compound to develop a high-power battery electrode that they say is so inexpensive to make, so efficient and so durable that it could be used to build batteries big enough for economical large-scale energy storage on the electrical grid. Such a storage device  offers a promising solution to the problem of intermittency in the output of wind and solar systems even with minor changes in weather conditions.

The suggested battery design employs a new electrode that employs crystalline nanoparticles of a copper compound. In laboratory tests, the electrode survived 40 000 cycles of charging and discharging, after which it could still be charged to more than 80 percent of its original charge capacity. For comparison, the average lithium ion battery can handle about 400 charge/discharge cycles before it deteriorates too much to be of practical use.

“At a rate of several cycles per day, this electrode would have a good 30 years of useful life on the electrical grid,” said Colin Wessells, the lead author of a paper describing the research, published at the end of November in Nature Communications.