Researchers discover efficient battery to store renewable energy

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A team of researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), in the United States, designed a redox flow battery functional and economical using only materials available in large quantities, because they are already used by industry. These redox flow batteries would be particularly suitable for storing intermittent energies, such as solar or wind power.

Effective after 1000 recharges

The capacities of this newly developed battery seem indeed astonishing. The researchers report in their article that after 1000 consecutive charging cycles, the capacity would decrease little, to only 98.7%. Previous developments on similar batteries report 100 times greater degradation, even though they have undergone fewer charge cycles.

Gabriel Nambafu, researcher at PNNL, manipulates the new redox flow battery that he has just developed.

Gabriel Nambafu, researcher at PNNL, manipulates the new redox flow battery that he has just developed.

© Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Redox flow batteries were developed in the mid-1980s. But those designed by PNNL are the first to take advantage of an organometallic compound made of iron (III) chloride and nitrilotri-methylphosphonic acid, already used in water treatment plants to combat corrosion. Thus, they could be more easily produced in large quantities and thus significantly increase our renewable energy storage capacities.

An ally in the energy transition

By definition, since the Sun does not illuminate us 24 hours a day and the strength of the wind varies, non-carbon energy is intermittent. It is therefore necessary to store it so that it can be used during slack periods. However, storing renewable energies efficiently and over time is one of the major difficulties facing their deployment. The use of easily machinable redox flow batteries could therefore help to efficiently transition to cleaner energies.

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