Energy demands from developing countries are going to grow by about 10 per cent between now and 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration. By that year, they will be using 65 per cent of the world’s total energy supply.
If electricity could be stored on-site for when it is needed, outages would be far less frequent. But the cost of existing battery technology is prohibitive. Abo-Hamed and her colleagues are working on an innovative way of storing hydrogen gas that can be burned in fuel cells. The system uses nanomaterials to create a partially flexible sponge that is able to trap hydrogen atoms in its pores. The gas can later be released by heating the structure.
The cost of manufacturing is also a concern when it comes to the production of larger lithium ion batteries that could be used to, say, store power for a building or group of buildings in a neighbourhood. Yet-Ming Chiang, a professor at MIT, has spent years working on novel battery designs.