The zinc-air fuel cells developed by scientists at the Arizona-based tech firm NantEnergy make access to continuous, renewable energy a reality for thousands of people in places removed from centralized electrical grids.
Sean Petersen of the International Finance Corporation calls the zinc-air battery “a potential game-changer for affordable electricity and reducing hydrocarbon usage in emerging-market countries.”
Zinc-air batteries use oxygen molecules in the air to convert electrical energy into chemical energy and back again, making them rechargable.
The zinc-air battery also has the potential to offer improved performance for less.
A six-year study of microgrids in Indonesia showed that zinc-air batteries were able to provide continuous power for $100 per kilowatt-hour, the price point that economists say can prompt energy grids to adopt a fully carbon-free system.
The amount of energy generated by renewables thanks to zinc-air batteries has offset approximately 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
“By harnessing biology, chemistry, the air and the sun, we are designing energy sources of the future,” said Patrick Soon‐Shiong, chairman of NantEnergy.