A team of researchers was recently successful in developing a flow battery, it can store energy inside organic molecules that are dissolved in neutral pH water. This new chemistry permits the non-corrosive non-toxic battery with long endurance and ability to bring down the cost of production by a considerable scale. The research was recently published by a materials and energy technologies professor, Michael Aziz, and a chemistry and materials science professor, Roy Gordon. Both men come from the prestigious Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Flow batteries are supposed to store energy in liquid or fluid solution placed inside external tanks. The larger the size of these tanks higher is the amount of energy that can be stored. Flow batteries happen to be one of the most promising solutions for intermittent, renewable energy such as solar or wind energy. But the present day flow batteries are cursed with degraded energy storage capacity after a few charge-discharge cycles. These need high periodic maintenance in terms of electrolytes to restore this capacity. When the configuration of molecules used in positive and negative electrolytes solutions was tweaked a bit, the Harvard team was successful in engineering a battery that loses just one percent of its capacity after every thousand cycles.
In words of Aziz, “Lithium ion batteries don’t even survive 1000 complete charge/discharge cycles,” Gordon, on the other hand, adds “Because we were able to dissolve the electrolytes in neutral water, this is a long-lasting battery that you could put in your basement. If it spilled on the floor, it wouldn’t eat the concrete and since the medium is noncorrosive, you can use cheaper materials to build the components of the batteries, like the tanks and pumps.” The reduction cost here is of great significance and the DOE plans to build a battery that costs much lesser than $100 per kilowatt hour. Aziz further adds, “If you can get anywhere near this cost target then you change the world. It becomes cost effective to put batteries in so many places. This research puts us one step closer to reaching that target.”
Filed Under: News