[ ♪ ♪ ] [Paul Hunter] Take a look around this corner and there it is. At a manufacturing plant in Massachusetts. Something that just might change the world. A giant battery. Big enough for a whole neighborhood and designed to be cost-effective and to keep working for a very long time. [Don Sadoway] I want to have a battery that’s big, reliable, safe and will deliver electricity for decades. [Paul Hunter] It’s the invention of Don Sadoway. Pprofessor of materials chemistry at MIT. And it’s potentially the Holy Grail in the push toward clean energy. [Don Sadoway] You have to be able to draw electricity from the sun even when the Sun doesn’t shine. And if you can’t do that then solar power is not the answer. [Paul Hunter] Think about it. The way to truly end the need for carbon emitting power plants and embrace clean energy is to solve a key problem. Yes, we now generate electricity with wind turbines but what about when the wind stops? And yes, solar panels now dot the landscape but what about when the sun sets? [ ♪ ♪] Just as the need for power accelerates. [ ♪ ♪ ] The answer — mega batteries. Charged by those turbines and solar panels that can store all that clean energy until whenever it’s needed. [Light switch clicks on] Such that, wherever you are, the lights always turn on instantly without the need for those power plants [ ♪ ♪ ] [door opens] [Paul Hunter] So this is the place? [Don Sadoway] Yeah [Paul Hunter] Is this where like it began? [Don Sadoway] yeah, it’s all done here. It was here a decade ago that Sadoway’s big idea was born. A battery made of liquefied metals. [ ♪ ♪ ] Sadoway then got help from some of his students here at MIT. It was a kind of class project for the ages. His battery idea was finessed and patented and soon enough the world took notice. Pinned up outside Sadoway’s office shout outs from Bill Gates, now a key investor. Time Magazine named him one
of the most influential people on the planet. [Don Sadoway] We need to think big we need to think cheap. [Paul Hunter] He’s done a TED talk Please welcome Donald Sadoway [Paul Hunter ] And even turned out one night to chat all things battery with Stephen Colbert [Cheering] Oh and by the way Sadoway’s a Canadian. Born in Toronto. He has a strong desire simply to do good. I think peaceful and prosperous world rests on the invention of modern, cost affordable batteries. It is science and service of society and maybe maybe that was the Canadian piece. That we just said, “This is a noble enterprise.” As opposed to, “We want to do something really cool like we’re gonna write an app for an iPhone” I’m not interested in that stuff this is much much more important. [Elon Musk] The issue with existing batteries is that they suck. Ok. [Paul Hunter] By now you may be thinking “But what about Elon Musk and all the work he’s putting into battery development? Not least with those Tesla’s truth.” Truth is all kinds of experts worldwide are chasing the same goal. [ ♪ ♪ ] [Paul Hunter] So, back to the plant where they’re testing Sadoway’s bright idea. Everything seems geared toward keeping
it simple. Am I right on that? Keeping it simple, low cost materials and the fundamentals of the technology being a very long lifespan potential. David Bradwell, once a student of Sadoway’s And as it turns out, also from Toronto now helps run the startup aimed at making and marketing the better battery the big challenge now, proving to the world that everything works perfectly. So far so good. See if I’ve got this right. -[Paul] It’s got to be cheap.
-[David] cheap yes. It’s got to be reliable -[David] It’s got to last for —
-[Paul] It’s gotta last a long time. [Mechanical noise] And their big selling point their battery will never overheat catch fire or explode They hope to get it on the market within three years. As Sadoway puts it… This is not in the “would be nice category.” This is in the “must-have category.” It’s the answer isn’t it? Yeah. [ ♪ ♪ ] and with that, the world’s power grid awaits. Paul hunter CBC News.