MIT Clean Energy Prize rewards student innovation
By Rob Matheson
As renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar power, become increasingly attractive power sources for the grid, industry is looking for better energy-storage systems that can make these sources more cost effective.
On April 13, Lithio Storage, a team from Tufts University and Northwestern University, took home the $100,000 grand prize at the MIT Clean Energy Prize (CEP) for tackling one major challenge for grid-scale energy storage: extreme temperatures. The startup is developing an electrolyte that helps batteries withstand much broader temperature ranges, making them safer, more energy efficient, and cheaper to operate.
Using the electrolyte at wind and solar power farms, for instance, could save millions of dollars annually in operation costs, according to the startup. The electrolyte can also be used to improve battery performance in electrical vehicles.
“When you open a battery now, it’s essentially using the same materials it used 20 years ago,” said team member Anthony D’Angelo, a PhD chemical engineering student at Tufts, in his winning pitch. “There’s really a need for a more robust and energy-efficient battery.”
Photo courtesy of Lance Cheung.