Saturday, October 25, 2014

Vanadium Flow Batteries

“Warp Core”, vanadium flow battery energy storage (Credit: Matthew Ganon via, cc license) Click to enlarge.
Imergy Power Systems first crossed our radar with its proprietary flow battery based on material reclaimed from mine tailings and derelict oil wells.  Thursday Imergy announced the introduction of its new ESP30 series, which, according to its press materials, will cut the cost of its signature flow batteries from $500 per kilowatt hour to less than $300 per kilowatt hour.

The latest report on solar energy costs came from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory earlier this week.  The cost of energy storage is plummeting, and while the figure of $300 cited by Imergy doesn’t beat some other technologies, it is getting pretty close to the Energy Department’s near term goal of $250 per kWh for grid energy storage.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that flow batteries have an important lifecycle advantage over some other energy storage technologies, including the current gold standard, lithium-ion batteries.

Flow batteries literally refer to the charge generated as two fluids flow adjacent to each other.

Flow batteries score points for longevity, as they do not degrade over time as do lithium-ion batteries, for example.  That makes flow batteries ideal for intermittent energy storage. They can sit idle for long periods without losing their charge, and they can be revved up to speed almost instantly when called into action.

Another key advantage of flow batteries is ease of scalability.  Enlarging the size of the battery is primarily a matter of increasing the size of storage tanks for the fluids.

Until recently, typical flow batteries were bulky affairs, but along with lower costs more compact systems have been emerging, to the extent that they could even find application for EV batteries.

Read More at Vanadium Flow Batteries

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