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The Future of PV, Batteries and More – At the Bleeding Edge

image credit: Cornell University
John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant, Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

  • Member since 2013
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  • Nov 16, 2021

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Ptychography is a computational method of microscopic imaging. A recent advancement allowed this technique to examine three dimensional non-organic compounds at the atomic-scale. This will greatly expand our understanding of these materials and allow engineers to better model how they will behave.

This post is about the above new tool and the breakthroughs in important renewable technologies that it might hasten.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Nov 17, 2021

John, Battery storage has been getting better by leaps and bounds thanks to Tesla and lithium batteries. Their systems are being made and installed by the Mega Watt. Some new systems they have are Giga watt sized. 

    Solar PV is already one of the lowest cost systems to buy and install . The panel life is better than ever as the cost still continues to drop. 

   Pollution and water use are finally being seen in old fossil fuel systems. So coal is dead. The so called cleaner natural gas systems are very expensive and we hit peak natural gas in 2004. Fracking is dying out. 

   So we have everything we need for a 100% clean power GRID. We just have to do it.  

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Nov 17, 2021

Thanks for the comment, Jim.

Yes, I tend to post a paper on Tesla every month or two, and much of the content is about their battery developments, but what Tesla has been doing is exploiting existing chemistries with new designs.  The :Future of..." paper is about the distant future when new chemistries will start to emerge, which is why I started with a powerful new tool that will help developers understand materials.

When? I'm guessing market entry five to ten years from now, so I'm sure Elon will take full advantage of these when they start to escape the labs.

The following are links to my three most recent posts on Tesla:



Charles Botsford, PE's picture
Charles Botsford, PE on Nov 20, 2021


Great article. I liked the section on flow batteries because their pursuit has always puzzled me. The overall system capital cost might be low for some of the chemistries, but the round-trip efficiency is typically in the 70s to 80s, nothing like 99% for lithium. Also, the O&M costs are high--basically you're operating a chemical plant (pumps, tanks, etc.). We looked at hydrogen bromide flow systems for a while, but gave up because, you know, hydrogen bromide.


I think you're right that the ability to peer at atoms and their crystalline structure in such amazing detail will lead to tremendous developments in batteries and semiconductors. 

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Nov 23, 2021

Hi Charles, Thanks for the comment.

You might look at the ESS Flow Battery. I was going to post a review of their technology, but we disagreed on the best application for their product, so they requested that I pull the paper and I complied. 

Their Marketing Manager is:

Erick Petersen




John Benson's picture
Thank John for the Post!
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