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Lockheed says ‘flow’ battery will boost use of renewable power


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Washington (Reuters): Lockheed Martin Corp hopes to launch a new “flow” battery made of inexpensive, non-toxic materials that can help utilities save money and use more renewable energy, company officials said.

“You open up a chance not only to make renewables more marketable and more useful, you might even change the structure of at least a portion of the utility market,” Lockheed Senior Vice President for Sustainability and Ethics Leo Mackay told reporters at the company’s Global Vision Centre in Virginia.

Lockheed did not have an exact date for introduction of the battery or a cost, but Vice President for Energy Initiatives Frank Armijo said the company hopes to introduce it in a “little more than a year.”

Flow batteries, which use chemicals dissolved in water, last longer than lithium ion batteries, which are usually solid. That means they can help utilities meet consumer needs for longer periods during so-called peak demand times such as evenings, when residents use lights, televisions and kitchen appliances.

A report in the utility industry press early this year said Lockheed hoped to introduce a flow battery by the end of 2018, but there were no details on what kind of materials it would be made of.

Unlike natural gas or coal, which can be burned anytime to generate power, wind and solar power are sometimes most active when consumer demand is down. Affordable storage of power from renewables could help the industry grow faster, but has long been elusive.


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