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Liquid metal battery research company CEO Gordon Hinds and co-inventor Professor Donald Sadoway.

Liquid metal battery research company CEO Gordon Hinds and co-inventor Professor Donald Sadoway.

Even when the ACT reaches its 90 per cent renewable energy target it will still need coal or gas powered electricity at times when there isn't enough sun or wind.

But storing power from renewables in grid-scale batteries could revolutionise the way we access electricity.

The co-inventor of the liquid metal battery, MIT materials chemistry Professor Donald Sadoway believes the low-cost, long-life cells could be a world-changing alternative to solid state lithium-ion batteries and the ACT would be one place that could benefit.

The liquid metal battery co-invented by Professor Donald Sadoway.

The liquid metal battery co-invented by Professor Donald Sadoway.

Professor Sadoway was in Canberra on Wednesday seeking research collaborators to experiment with the optimal combination of metals to make the technology cheaper and more powerful, and manufacturing partners to roll out the batteries in Australia.

Although discussions with the ACT government are yet to begin, the Sydney-based CEO of the liquid metal battery research company Gordon Hinds, who will head-up the Australian research, said the technology could be implemented in the ACT within five years.

Mr Hinds said the "use it or lose it" system of electricity generation meant power from the ACT's solar farms will be superfluous to needs when it is fed into the grid, unless it is stored.

"[The ACT government] are making a very big commitment in renewables, but without this battery technology they will be struggling to make that strategy work," he said.

"The coal generators still have to keep burning coal even though you might be tapping into solar.

"If you whack a battery system onto the solar farm at Tuggeranong you can get that power all day and night."

While university partnerships are yet to be formalised the pair have their sights set on key researchers at the Australian National University with the possibility of building a lab mirroring the MIT facility.

Following the research a $50 million manufacturing hub for the batteries could be established in Australia.

"My vision of global coverage would mean batteries for the Australian market would most optimally be built in Australia by Australians," Professor Sadoway.

"We need to have a domestic partner who understands what we're doing and it's time to start exploring."

Professor Sadoway seeks to attract newcomers to the field of electrochemistry as researchers for the technology rather than those experienced in batteries.

"It's almost an anti-expert approach to this," he said.

"The thing that I did not do [in developing the technology at MIT] was engage people from the battery industry because I reasoned that they were going to take this to the same dead-end they were at."

Professor Sadoway's company Ambri is about to deploy its first commercial batteries in late 2015 early 2016 at several US sites.

A retail price for the batteries in Australia is yet to be calculated but they are projected to store power for about $500 a kilowatt-hour - a fraction of the price of comparable storage which also requires more insulation and cooling systems.

It also has a level of performance unheard of in a battery, Professor Sadoway said, with a lifespan of more than 300 years and the ability to retain more than 99 per cent of its initial capacity even after 10 years of daily discharge.

(This news story is from Brisbane Times)

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