Chinese Researchers Develop Redox Flow Battery with 99.98% Retention Capacity

Redox flow batteries are electrochemical energy storage devices, which convert chemical energy into electrical energy via reversible oxidation. Researchers have designed an aqueous redox flow battery with a positive electrolyte made from an organic molecule known as Tempo.

Tempo is an electro-active aminoxyl radical with a high potential for energy and easily reversible oxidation states. The chemical compound, known by its (CH2)3(CMe2)2NO formula, is comprised of a bright-orange solid that has a free and stable radical nature. The compound can be stored for a long time and has different applications in molecular biology and organic chemistry. This is in addition to being used by polymer scientists.

The South China University of Technology researchers who developed the battery noted that because of the high hydrophobicity of the molecular skeleton of the aqueous redox flow batteries, Tempo couldn’t be applied directly to the battery. They explained that when left unaltered, the chemical compound couldn’t dissolve in the liquid required to facilitate the energy exchange in flow batteries.

The researchers have developed a way to functionalize Tempo with an organic compound known as viologen. Viologen possesses a highly reversible redox reaction, which improves the former compound’s hydrophilicity. Hydrophilicity refers to having a high affinity for water hydrophilic proteins. The researchers claim that the Tempo derivative they developed promotes the redox flow battery’s solubility and increases its redox potential. This, they say, is because of viologen’s potent electron-withdrawing effect.

Viologen also possesses densely positive charges which decrease a reaction dubbed the crossover, which causes losses in capacity during recharging and charging of the battery, when redoxmers move to the wrong side of the cell and the components in battery electrolyte cross the membrane in the battery cell. Redoxmers are redox-active molecules that store energy in the electrolytes of batteries.

Furthermore, viologen’s salt nature also gives Tempo conductivity in the battery’s aqueous solution. The researchers tested viologen-altered Tempo chemical compound in a redox flow battery and discovered that it helped the device retain a more than 99% capacity every cycle.

The researchers describe the retained capacity as adequate because it ensured the battery would hold almost all of the energy it stored when it wasn’t in use. Zhenxing Liang, the corresponding author of the study, stated that the group realized the application of viologen in redox flow batteries. Liang added that the molecular design concept the researchers used afforded a strategy for new organic electroactive materials and laid a foundation for the application of an organic flow battery.

The researchers’ findings were published in “Energy Material Advances.”

Given that many companies, such as StorEn Technologies Inc., have devoted their focus upon coming up with viable redox battery systems, it may not be long before this technology is vying for dominance with Li-ion battery tech, especially for utility-scale applications.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to StorEn Technologies Inc. are available in the company’s newsroom at

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