Clean energies are the main solution to prevent climate change from escalating. Among clean energies, the main ones are solar and wind.
But both are fickle; the wind does not always blow and sunlight disappears at night and is scarce on very cloudy days.
They are not reliable for a direct supply to the electrical network without interruptions. On the other hand, although lithium-ion batteries can store energy efficiently, they are dependent on a limited resource and can never be cheap enough.
Flow batteries, in which electrolytes flow through electrochemical cells from storage tanks, are rechargeable batteries that hold the most promise for large-scale energy storage in solar and wind power plants. However, they are still too expensive and bulky to be competitive.
Nian Liu’s team at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in the United States has developed a more compact flow battery cell configuration that reduces cell size by 75% and consequently reduces the size of the cell.
The cost of the entire flow battery could lead to great advances in the energy sector.
The researchers used four different chemistries to validate their new battery setup. They found with the new cell configuration, zinc iodide chemistry is the most energy-dense option, making it the most efficient for many applications.
In addition, zinc iodide itself offers many advantages compared to lithium: the raw material is more readily available, and it can also be converted into zinc oxide and dissolved in acid, making it much easier to recycle.
As for its cost, everything indicates that it could be slightly less than a quarter of the cost of conventional flow batteries, especially if a recycled electrolyte is used.
Liu and his colleagues discuss the technical details of their new flow battery setup in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, titled “A Sub-Millimeter Bundled Microtubular Flow Battery Cell With Ultra-high Volumetric Power Density”. (Source: NCYT from Amazing)