Chemical may turn flow battery into cheap energy storage container

Jan. 8, 2014 at 4:14 PM
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A chemical could turn the flow battery into an inexpensive way to store energy collected from intermittent sources of electricity, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers, led by Michael Aziz of Harvard University, explored the possibility of storing energy from solar or wind sources by working with the flow battery and making it more affordable by using inexpensive chemicals.

The electro-active components of flow batteries are held in a fluid state externally to the battery, enabling such systems to store potentially large amounts of energy, making flow batteries attractive as a potential way to regulate the output of intermittent energy sources. However, cost of the electro-active materials can be a limiting factor.

To overcome the cost factor, Aziz and his colleagues developed an aqueous flow battery based on low-cost chemicals called quinones.

The researchers found the flow batteries produce good voltage outputs and the introduction of quinones could permit fine-tuning of important properties, which could improve battery performance. The design represents a new, promising direction for massive electrical energy storage at a significantly reduced cost, the authors said.

The findings were reported this week in Nature.

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