“Decarbonising the economy is a very difficult task, especially taking into account the highly seasonal nature of wind turbines and solar panels,” he said. “Solving this task is impossible without technologies of long-term energy storage, which is increasingly needed.”
He said one of the tasks being tackled by his institute was improving the efficiency of these systems, including for fuel cells.
“The efficiency of lithium-ion batteries stands at 90-95 %, but for hydrogen fuel cells that figure is no higher than 30 %. And this is the key issue,” he told the gathering. “And I am now working on the problem, together with colleagues at the institute I head, the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.”
Cui said solving this problem in technological terms has considerable practical importance as for now the question remains open about what is more effective for use in trucks and public transport – electric engines or engines using fuel cells.
“Small passenger transport will see a transition to electric vehicles – the issue is mainly in the technology of disposal of lithium-ion batteries and also the availability of lithium. Nickel and cobalt,” he said. “In terms of trucks and public transport, there is no such clarity. For now, it is not clear what will be used more – lithium-ion batteries or fuel cells.”