Dr. Prieto in the lab_edited-1Wind, solar, electric cars ­- all have a toehold in the American energy mix, but there’s one technical dilemma holding them back: batteries. Batteries are essential energy storage devices for anything touted as clean tech but right now they’re limited to a few hours of performance: they’re expensive, big and chemically dangerous.

Touted as the holy grail of green machines, there’s an international race going on to build a better battery. The people in that race will not only shift our energy future, they stand to make a lot of money.

Amy Prieto, a chemist at Colorado State University, has designed a battery that seemingly has the right stuff. She’s created a prototype that recharges in a few minutes, discharges slowly, and is manufactured using non-toxic chemicals. She still has to solve some big challenges before the prototype can become a battery she can put in the hands of consumers, and that will likely take a few more years.

Alex visits Amy Prieto and her team to learn just what the Prieto Battery is about and why creating a better battery is so difficult.

“Scientific method: The search for a better battery” aired on APM Marketplace, January 2, 2013:

Burn: An Energy Journal has partnered with public radio’s Marketplace to bring you Energy news and stories, as told through the business and economics prism that has made Marketplace one of public radio’s most listened to programs. BURN and Marketplace are both distributed by American Public Media.