Skip to main content

The biggest battery in the world could be in a salt cave in Germany

germany biggest battery salt cave brine4power 1
Caves aren’t just homes to giant bat colonies — thanks to modern technology, they can also house batteries. And not just any batteries — the world’s largest battery. A few weeks ago, German utility EWE unveiled its plans to build an energy storage system in an old salt mine that could ultimately become the biggest battery on Earth.

The ambitious new project has been named “brine4power,” and will take form in underground salt caverns that were previously natural gas storage facilities, and even further back in history, were salt mines. All these caves have a volume of 3.5 million cubic feet, which ought to give the resulting battery a capacity of up to 700MWh at an output of 120MW.

Related Videos

So how would the battery work? The massive undertaking would depend upon redox flow technology (which involves filling these caves with a lot of saltwater). These types of batteries work by storing energy as liquid electrolytes. A positive catholyte and negative anolyte are kept apart by a membrane that only lets ions pass through.

When the battery is charging, the ions move to the anolyte, and when it’s discharging, the ions move back to the catholyte. Charged molecules are then pumped into a storage tank, where the energy can be kept safe for future use for months at a time. And the cool thing about the brine4power system is that it stores the electricity in liquid form. While it certainly takes up a lot more space, it’s also pretty powerful — if it works, this salt cavern battery ought to be able to supply 75,000 homes with their power for a day.

“We need to carry out some more tests and clarify several issues before we can use the storage principle indicated by the University of Jena in underground caverns. However, I expect that we will have an operating cavern battery by about the end of 2023,” says Ralf Riekenberg, head of the brine4power project.

If things go according to plan, EWE Managing Director Peter Schmidt says the battery could “fundamentally change the … market for control energy. The amount of electricity this kind of storage facility contains — consisting of two medium-sized caverns — is sufficient to supply a major city such as Berlin with electricity for an hour. It means that we will have built the world’s largest battery.”

Editors' Recommendations

Motorola’s new Moto G Power (2022) keeps long battery life, adds better camera
Image of a picture being taken with a Moto G Power.

The Moto G Power (2022) is officially the newest part of Motorola's Moto G family, and the successor to the Moto G Power (2021) that we reviewed early this year. As our review of the earlier model noted, all the key selling points are here, like the long-lasting three-day battery life, huge display, and sturdy design. But on top of that, Motorola also appears to have addressed our complaints about the weak camera performance and mediocre panel, by significantly beefing up both, though it still hasn't brought 5G to the device likely to keep it under $200.

To start with, the new G Power features a 6.5-inch 1600 x 720 IPS display with a 90Hz refresh rate, meaning everything will be smoother than last year's 60Hz panel. It's still not really a bump up from 720p -- 1080p would have been nice given the big screen, but it'll still feel a lot better to use. In terms of weight and dimensions, it's about the same size and tips the scale at about 203 grams. The design is fairly sturdy and is IP52 water-repellent, however, it is not technically waterproof, so don't fully immerse it.

Read more
GoPro boosts Hero 10 performance with new firmware and Enduro battery
GoPro Hero 10 Front Screen.

One of my few complaints when reviewing the GoPro Hero 10 Black was its somewhat fleeting battery life, and though I haven’t personally encountered the issue, many users have reported problems limiting recording times due to overheating. GoPro seems to have heard that message loud and clear, as they have announced a major firmware update for the camera that aims to solve the problems as well as a brand new Enduro battery.

The firmware (which will be available by the end of October) introduces three new video performance modes designed to maximize the Hero 10’s performance in different scenarios. Maximum video performance mode prioritizes high resolution, frame rate, and image quality. Extended battery mode limits resolution and frame rate to maximize recording times and battery life, while tripod/stationary video mode provides high performance when the camera is stationary, and there isn’t any airflow to cool the camera.

Read more
Next-generation batteries could use material derived from trees
Tree scene photo taken with the OnePlus 9 Pro

A team of scientists has found a way to make use of an unusual material in next-generation batteries: Wood. The team from Brown University has developed a tree-derived material to be used in solid-state batteries, which are safer and less environmentally damaging than current batteries.

Current generation lithium-ion batteries, like those used in phones, computers, and electronic vehicles, use volatile liquids as electrolytes. These electrolytes conduct lithium ions between the positive and negative electrodes of a battery. Liquid electrolytes do this job well, but they are toxic and can be dangerous. If the battery experiences a short circuit, for example, the liquid can combust and the battery can catch fire. This isn't usually a problem in everyday use, but it has led to the recall of some batteries which have been incorrectly manufactured.

Read more