Flow battery could run for more than 10 years

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 13, 2017

Energy storage degradation in rechargeable batteries is a pretty serious problem that many of us put up with on a regular basis. These are essential for separating the electrolytes and because the membrane needs to withstand the aggressive chemistry inside the cell, it can be very expensive - up to one-third of the flow battery's cost. The organization wants to achieve competitive traditional power plants that can renew energy.

This approach led the scientists to engineer a battery that only loses one percent of its capacity in 1000 charge/discharge cycles and can last more than a decade.

Researchers at Harvard were able to create a "liquid" battery that is capable of providing energy for over 10 years.

The battery is a type of flow battery, which means it is rechargable.

"It becomes cost effective to put batteries in so many places". Energy is generated by the chemical reaction triggered by plugging in a charger, thanks to positively charged ions and electrons running in a circuit. First, the team had to identify why previously chemicals would degrade when left in a neutral solution.

The battery can also be manufactured at a low cost, costing no more than $100 per kilowatt-hour.

This involved modifying two key molecules - viologen and ferrocene. The flow battery research is likely to help reach that target soon. "It has been used in other batteries with organic solvents, which are flammable and expensive".

"Ferrocene is great for storing charge but is completely insoluble in water", said Beh.

'Aqueous soluble ferrocenes represent a whole new class of molecules for flow batteries, ' said Dr Aziz.

Liquid batteries would not only offer a much-longer lifespan and cost significantly less than their lithium-ion counterparts, they would also be considerably safer. The researchers from SEAS who have applied for patents for their findings in flow battery technology, are now working on implementing the new battery design in industrial applications together with several companies. As the molecules' structure within the electrolyte solution has been altered to make them water soluble, the reconfigured battery loses just one per cent of its capacity per 1,000 recharge cycles, the researchers said.

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