Environment & Engineering

Novel electrolyte for more sustainable redox flow batteries

Redox Flow Batteries

As climate change risks intensify, governments across the world are acknowledging the need to utilise more renewable sources of energy (i.e. wind, solar) rather than fossil fuels (i.e. coal, gas, oil). Current predictions are that by 2050, over 60 percent of global energy generation will come from renewables—a significant increase compared to today.

Due to the intermittent nature of the sun and wind, generators of renewable energy must also be able to store the energy they generate. How to store energy is now as important a challenge as how to generate it.

So while the demand for large-scale, stationary storage facilities is growing, existing technologies are posing significant barriers to meeting that increased need. Other battery technologies have limitations that restrict their ability to be used in stationary storage. For example, lithium ion batteries are expensive to produce and do not meet strict regulations for stationary applications. Similarly, lead acid batteries perform poorly and are not suited to large-scale energy storage.

One technology that is focused on meeting large storage needs is the redox flow battery. However, the electrolytes that are traditionally used in these batteries are highly acidic and corrosive, making them difficult and expensive to safely dispose of.

Researchers at Te Herenga WakaVictoria University of Wellington have developed a novel, water-based electrolyte for redox flow batteries that could see them become not only safer and more environmentally-friendly, but also improve their performance and make them cheaper to produce and dispose of.

Features and benefits

Higher performance

The electrolyte produces higher voltages and current density, and is also more highly soluble—which, when combined together, significantly increases the energy density of a redox flow battery.

Improved safety profile

Because the electrolyte has a neutral pH level, it is less flammable and much less corrosive than vanadium and bromine redox batteries—and lithium ion batteries—making end-of-life disposal safer and cheaper.

Lower production costs

Because the patented electrolyte predominantly uses water, organic redox manufacturers reduce the material cost of their electrolyte and remain cost-competitive against metal- based redox batteries in market.

Next steps

The development of the redox flow batteries are now being developed by the spin out company, Allegro Energy.



Julie Crisford

Head of Commercialisation

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