Research into alternative sources of energy, such as solar and wind, are constantly growing and evolving. The science behind photovoltaics is improving constantly and wind turbines are producing more electrical energy than ever before. However, the question still stands of how we store and deliver this electrical energy to the grid. A few ECS members from Harvard University believe their new flow battery could answer that question.
Building off earlier research, the new and improve flow battery could offer a great solution for the reliability issue of energy sources such as wind and solar based on weather patterns. The batteries could store large amounts of electrical energy that can delivered to commercial and residential establishments even when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.
This from Harvard University:
In the operation of the battery, electrons are picked up and released by compounds composed of inexpensive, earth-abundant elements (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, iron and potassium) dissolved in water. The compounds are non-toxic, non-flammable, and widely available, making them safer and cheaper than other battery systems.
“This is chemistry I’d be happy to put in my basement,” says Michael J. Aziz, ECS member and project Principal Investigator. “The non-toxicity and cheap, abundant materials placed in water solution mean that it’s safe — it can’t catch on fire — and that’s huge when you’re storing large amounts of electrical energy anywhere near people.”
The paper can be found in the journal Science, with contributions by ECS members Michael Gerhardt and Ray Gordon.
“We combined a common organic dye with an inexpensive food additive to increase our battery voltage by about 50 percent over our previous materials,” says Gordon. The findings “deliver the first high-performance, non-flammable, non-toxic, non-corrosive, and low-cost chemicals for flow batteries.”
The potential for this flow battery is immense due to the rapid growth of photovoltaics and the increased interest in alternative forms of energy.
PS: Check out this paper by Aziz and Gerhardt entitled, “A Quinone-Bromide Flow Battery with 1 W/cm2 Power Density.”