Technology solutions to change…

The energy of change

Technology solutions to change…

Electrical energy storage: lithium-ion batteries

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Energy storage will undoubtedly be an essential pillar of electrical systems in the coming years. There are a variety of technologies which enable energy storage, including batteries, inertia flywheels, supercondensers, hydrogen, molten salts, pumping, compressed air, etc.

Each one of them has its own characteristics in terms of energy density, velocity response, number of cycles, output, etc. Battery technology has a range of options; however, lithium-ion batteries have been showing the fastest growth in recent years.

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Lithium-ion batteries are not something new; the first electrochemical experiments began in 1912, but the first batteries containing lithium would not actually emerge until the 1960s. The first robust rechargeable batteries were not achieved, nevertheless, until the 1980s; however, the research work being conducted was discontinued from that point on to focus on other chemical batteries. The 1990s, with widespread use of digital cameras, laptop computers and cellphones, saw the relaunch of large-scale activity in the development of lithium-ion batteries because they featured a much higher energy density than most other electrochemical systems.

BMS (Battery Management System) controls the entire range of operating variables.

While a battery may seem to be a relatively simple system at first sight, it is important to understand that knowing exactly how they work requires the development of complex mathematical models in conjunction with a host of actual trials. All of these models are implemented in what is referred to as the BMS (Battery Management System) that controls the entire range of operating variables.

These batteries are starting to lend support to electric grids, industries and even end users.

Although the battery boom began with the development of small portable devices, it was the reemergence of the electric car that brought about a technological leap in batteries. At this time a substantial drop in battery production costs is occurring, to the point where these systems are beginning to be used not only for electric vehicles, but for major power systems (ranging from kW to tens of MW) and over longer periods of time (from minutes to hours). These batteries are starting to lend support to electric grids, industries and even end users. And the new evolution of lithium-ion batteries in terms of increased life cycles, energy densities and enhanced performance will be the product of these new applications.

In 2014, Abengoa completed manufacturing and certification of a 1 MW / 400 kWh lithium-ion battery storage system. The system helps manage networks in applications such as voltage and frequency regulation, among others. This was only the first step, however, for a 12 MW / 4.8 MWh system that will support manageability and provide new services to renewable energy plants is currently in the manufacturing process.

José López Domínguez, Manager of Technology and Innovation of Abengoa Inabensa.

José López Domínguez,
Manager of Technology and Innovation of Abengoa Inabensa.

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