Capturing the Sun in a box: Thermal battery inventor wins the 2021 Bell Labs Prize

The winner of the 2021 Nokia Bell Labs Prize is proposing a remarkable new use for carbon, the primary source of global greenhouse gas. Instead of burning carbon in the form of coal and other fossil fuels to produce energy, Asegun Henry wants to use carbon as the primary means of storing energy generated from renewable sources like solar. Such a technology could go a long way to shedding our reliance on fossil fuels and cutting CO2 emissions.

An Associate Professor at MIT and Director of the university’s Atomistic Simulation & Energy Research Group, Henry has invented a thermal battery made of a graphite, which is carbon in its crystallized form. This battery could store enormous amounts of energy in the form of intense heat. This would make it a cheap alternative to traditional electricity storage systems like lithium-ion batteries, Henry said.

“What makes it inexpensive is the nature of the way we're storing energy,” Henry said. “We're storing it in the form of heat and not electrochemically. What’s happening inside the thermal battery is a completely different phenomenon than in a lithium-ion battery. Instead of producing a chemical reaction, we’re literally using the kinetic energy of atoms – they’re being heated up and cooled down repeatedly.”


Read more at the Original Article from Nokia Bell Labs.