Researchers at Ceramatec Inc, a Utah company, have created a small ceramic disk battery which they say will deliver a continuous flow of five kilowatts of electricity over four hours and can be recharged daily for more than ten years.

The new battery runs on sodium-sulphur – a composition that normally operates as a battery at temperatures greater than 300°C. Ceramatec’s new battery runs at less than 90°C. The secret is a thin ceramic membrane that is sandwiched between the sodium and sulfur. Only positive sodium ions can pass through, leaving electrons to create a useful electrical current.

Ceramatec says that batteries will be ready for market testing in 2011, and will sell for about $US2,000.

According to Daniel Nocera, Professor of Energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who sits on Ceramatec’s advisory board, “These batteries switch the whole dialogue to renewables, They will turn us away from dumb technology, circa 1900 – a 110-year-old approach – and turn us forward.”

Professor Nocera sees the new battery technology as making local power generation and storage, from sources such as solar and wind, practical. He believes that this could take the pressure off the power grid and save tens of billions of dollars needed to upgrade the grid and make it "smart".