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Research Highlights

New Flow Battery to Cut Energy Storage Costs

PNNL organic battery will be 60% cheaper than standard vanadium flow battery

December 2015
New Flow Battery
PNNL researcher Xiaoliang Wei prepares a small demonstration organic flow battery. PNNL's all-organic aqueous flow battery uses two inexpensive and readily available electrolytes, one containing methyl viologen and another with 4-HO-TEMPO.

PNNL's new organic aqueous flow battery, described in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, is expected to cost $180 per kilowatt-hour once the technology is fully developed. The battery's lower cost is attributed to its use of inexpensive organic molecules instead of the commodity metals used in today's flow batteries. Using readily available materials also makes it more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Unlike solid batteries (like those used in many mobile devices), flow batteries store their active chemicals separately until power is needed, thereby greatly reducing safety concerns. The chemistries of popular vanadium-based flow batteries are expected to be the standard for some time, and reducing the cost of future flow batteries will require the use of less expensive alternatives such as organics. This research, funded by the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, may well represent the future of reduced-cost flow batteries.

What is it?

Flow batteries are rechargeable batteries in which rechargeability is provided by two chemical components dissolved in liquids contained within the system and separated by a membrane. Flow battery technologies offer high power and high-capacity batteries for renewable energy storage in support of load-leveling applications on the national electricity grid system.

The research team plans to make a larger version of the recently tried and tested battery that is able to store up to 5 kilowatts of electricity, which could support the peak load of a typical U.S. home. Other ongoing efforts include improving the battery's cycling so it can retain more of its storage capacity longer.

For more information about this research, read the PNNL News Release and the article mentioned above.

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