Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Dr. Raymond Orbach of The University of Texas at Austin explains research focused on creating a means to efficiently store green energy for on-demand use.
Raymond Orbach is Director of the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. He has also served as Chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, and Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy where he advised the Secretary of Energy on a variety of topics.
Dr. Raymond Orbach - Energy Storage
In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a lofty goal of producing 80 percent of the country's electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. In addition to wind and solar, the president called for a new generation of "safe, clean" nuclear power plants, continued investment in "clean coal" technologies, and expanded use of natural gas.
The debate over what can justly be called "clean" energy already has begun, but the president clearly foresees wind and solar as playing a big role in a clean energy economy. There's just one problem: the wind doesn't always blow, and the sun doesn't always shine - we just can't count on these and other intermittent sources of energy to be there when we need them. Like it or not, until we dramatically increase our capacity to store electrical energy, wind and solar stand little chance of fulfilling their much ballyhooed promise.
In his speech, the president also stressed the need for pioneering research, challenging scientists and engineers to tackle problems preventing further advances in clean energy. Scientists working with the Energy Institute at The University of Texas Austin are doing just that. Professors John Goodenough and Arumugan Manthiram are developing a new concept for electrical energy storage, using liquids instead of solids as battery electrodes. This enables large amounts of energy to be stored, keeping the battery cool during charge and discharge, and matches the delivery of energy to base load uses from intermittent sources like the wind and the sun. Their work could lead to dramatic breakthroughs in electrical energy storage and help make the president's aspirational words become reality.