Design may support widespread use of solar and wind energy.
MIT researchers have engineered a new rechargeable flow battery that doesn’t rely on expensive membranes to generate and store electricity. The device, they say, may one day enable cheaper, large-scale energy storage.
The palm-sized prototype generates three times as much power per square centimeter as other membraneless systems — a power density that is an order of magnitude higher than that of many lithium-ion batteries and other commercial and experimental energy-storage systems.
The device stores and releases energy in a device that relies on a phenomenon called laminar flow: Two liquids are pumped through a channel, undergoing electrochemical reactions between two electrodes to store or release energy. Under the right conditions, the solutions stream through in parallel, with very little mixing. The flow naturally separates the liquids, without requiring a costly membrane.
The reactants in the battery consist of a liquid bromine solution and hydrogen fuel. The group chose to work with bromine because the chemical is relatively inexpensive and available in large quantities, with more than 243,000 tons produced each year in the United States.
In addition to bromine’s low cost and abundance, the chemical reaction between hydrogen and bromine holds great potential for energy storage. But fuel-cell designs based on hydrogen and bromine have largely had mixed results: Hydrobromic acid tends to eat away at a battery’s membrane, effectively slowing the energy-storing reaction and reducing the battery’s lifetime.
To circumvent these issues, the team landed on a simple solution: Take out the membrane.
“This technology has as much promise as anything else being explored for storage, if not more,” says Cullen Buie, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “Contrary to previous opinions that membraneless systems are purely academic, this system could potentially have a large practical impact.”
Buie, along with Martin Bazant, a professor of chemical engineering, and William Braff, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, have published their results this week inNature Communications.
“Here, we have a system where performance is just as good as previous systems, and now we don’t have to worry about issues of the membrane,” Bazant says. “This is something that can be a quantum leap in energy-storage technology.”
Possible boost for solar and wind energy
Low-cost energy storage has the potential to foster widespread use of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. To date, such energy sources have been unreliable: Winds can be capricious, and cloudless days are never guaranteed. With cheap energy-storage technologies, renewable energy might be stored and then distributed via the electric grid at times of peak power demand.
“Energy storage is the key enabling technology for renewables,” Buie says. “Until you can make [energy storage] reliable and affordable, it doesn’t matter how cheap and efficient you can make wind and solar, because our grid can’t handle the intermittency of those renewable technologies.”
By designing a flow battery without a membrane, Buie says the group was able to remove two large barriers to energy storage: cost and performance. Membranes are often the most costly component of a battery, and the most unreliable, as they can corrode with repeated exposure to certain reactants.
Braff built a prototype of a flow battery with a small channel between two electrodes. Through the channel, the group pumped liquid bromine over a graphite cathode and hydrobromic acid under a porous anode. At the same time, the researchers flowed hydrogen gas across the anode. The resulting reactions between hydrogen and bromine produced energy in the form of free electrons that can be discharged or released.
The researchers were also able to reverse the chemical reaction within the channel to capture electrons and store energy — a first for any membraneless design.
In experiments, Braff and his colleagues operated the flow battery at room temperature over a range of flow rates and reactant concentrations. They found that the battery produced a maximum power density of 0.795 watts of stored energy per square centimeter.
The Latest on: Flow battery
- Which Is Safer For The Environment? Lithium-Ion Or Lead-Acid Batteries?on January 25, 2020 at 10:06 am
But lithium-ion recycling plants are coming online, like this recently-announced recycling plant by Swedish lithium-ion battery maker Northvolt. As Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson explained: “There’s a ...
- Missing spark: Corporate funding for battery storage,smart grid, energy efficiency companies down in 2019on January 24, 2020 at 7:53 pm
Lithium-ion based battery technology companies received the most funding in 2019 at $1.4 billion. Other categories that received funding included gravity storage, flow batteries, CAES, energy storage ...
- Power Line: Investors bet on plasma hotter than the sun, and long-lasting batteries brought to you by Bill Gateson January 24, 2020 at 9:53 am
This week in Power Line we cover a big deal in fusion, the shortcomings of lithium-ion batteries, a buzzy battery startup, and the latest deals ...
- A startup run by a Tesla veteran and backed by Bill Gates is promising to build a long-duration battery that's 50-100 times cheaper than lithium-ionon January 24, 2020 at 9:29 am
The CEO of Form Energy says he's chasing a "trillion-dollar" market to replace dirty power plants with big batteries that last for hours ...
- Automotive Battery Management System Market Size 2020 | Key Players, Growth Insights, Demand Analysis and 2025 Forecast Researchon January 23, 2020 at 9:21 am
New York, January 23, 2020: The Automotive Battery Management System Market is expected to exceed more than US$ 9 Billion by 2024 at a CAGR of 20% in the given forecast period. Browse Full Report: ...
- Tesla’s Newest Big Battery in Australia Set to Back Up Wind Farmon January 21, 2020 at 7:06 pm
Tesla Inc.’s latest big lithium-ion battery is set to start in South Australia, one of the nation’s biggest users of renewable generation, where it will support a steady flow of power from a wind farm ...
- MSU Bioeconomy Institute offering summer internships for battery research and developmenton January 20, 2020 at 1:46 pm
The OESLab focuses on original research in all-organic “redox flow” batteries, plus other chemistry fields such as alternative energy, organic synthesis, analytical chemistry, electrochemistry, ...
- Environmental Implications Of Lead-Acid And Lithium-Ion Batterieson January 19, 2020 at 3:11 pm
As societal use of batteries continues to grow exponential, potential environmental issues with these batteries are coming under increasing scrutiny. Today I cover some of the important environmental ...
- Flow Battery Market 2020 Size, Statistics, Growth, Revenue, Analysis & Trends Industry Forecast Report -2025|Market Research Engineon January 15, 2020 at 7:13 pm
New York, January 16, 2020: The report covers detailed competitive outlook including the market share and company profiles of the key participants operating in the global market. Key players profiled ...
- Hybrid Flow Battery Marketon January 15, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Hybrid flow battery market is expected to reach USD 307.8 million by 2027 witnessing market growth at a rate of 32.7% in the forecast period of 2020 to 2027. Flow battery is defined as a type of ...
via Google News and Bing News