Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is a critical goal to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Major improvements have made wind and solar power increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels. However, the inherent intermittency of renewable power sources motivates pairing these resources with energy storage. Electrochemical energy storage in batteries is widely used in many fields and increasingly for grid-level storage, but current battery technologies still fall short of performance, safety, and cost. This review focuses on sodium metal halide (Na-MH) batteries, such as the well-known Na-NiCl2
battery, as a promising solution to safe and economical grid-level energy storage. Important features of conventional Na-MH batteries are discussed, and recent literature on the development of intermediate-temperature, low-cost cathodes for Na-MH batteries is highlighted. By employing lower cost metal halides (e.g., FeCl2
, and ZnCl2
, etc.) in the cathode and operating at lower temperatures (e.g., 190 °C vs. 280 °C), new Na-MH batteries have the potential to offer comparable performance at much lower overall costs, providing an exciting alternative technology to enable widespread adoption of renewables-plus-storage for the grid.
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