New Flow Cell Has Been Developed by Harvard University

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It was reported, a few days ago, in the American Chemical Society Energy Communications that American scientific researchers had just developed a new flow cell which could achieve power storage through dissolving organic molecule in the neutral PH water. This makes it possible that the battery has very long shelf life without poison or corrosion and greatly reduce the production cost.

The storage system of the flow battery, basically, contains two liquid storage tanks with two different electrolytes inside (one electrolyte in one liquid storage tank). The thin film that separates the electrolyte leads to ion exchanges to store or discharge power. The larger liquid reservoir is, the higher the power will be. Flow cell enables to provide solutions for renewable energy storage without continuous electricity generation and stable output, such as wind energy, solar energy etc. However, the storage ability of flow cell available goes down after estimated charging and discharging cycles, and the maintenance of electrolyte is also required on a regular basis.

Researchers from Harvard University adjusted the molecular structure of electrolyte in anode and cathode to dissolve it in the water, thus this new flow cell has been developed with the storage ability to decrease only 1 percent in every 1000 times of charging and discharging cycles, while, on the same occasion, Li-ion battery basically cannot be used anymore.

The other advantage of neutral PH is that it reduces the thin film production cost sharply. Now most thin films in flow cells are made off expensive polymer, for it is corrosively durable, but the cost of it accounts for 1/3 of that of the whole battery needed. In fact ,there is just brine on two sides of the thin film used in the new flow battery, so cheap hydrocarbon compounds are available to replace the polymer. What’s more, there will be a wider choice of liquid storage tanks and pumps, thus the production cost is deeply reduced.

Experts from United States Department of Energy hold the opinion that this research is rather crucial, which is expected to guide the development of batteries in the future: improve the battery shelf life and reduce the cost at the same time; strengthen the application advantages of new energy such as wind energy, solar energy etc. This flow battery may be a standard component of grid infrastructure for its high-efficiency and durability.




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