The interest in advanced methods of storing energy has grown as the use of renewable energy sources to generate energy continues to expand. However, wind and solar power generation don’t always provide immediate and consistent electricity, which highlights the need for a reliable method that can be used to store energy for the power grid.
Vanadium redox flow batteries are considered to be the solution to these issues because they possess relatively large power output and are highly efficient in storing renewable energy. However, most vanadium flow batteries use perfluorinated sulfonic acid-based ion-exchange membranes. These membranes demonstrate high vanadium ion permeation, which causes poor cyclic stability and battery performance.
Now a team of researchers has created a hybrid ion-exchange membrane that significantly enhances the performance of vanadium redox flow batteries using graphene-based nanomaterials. The researchers, from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, used graphene oxide nanosheets implanted in the perfluorinated sulfonic acid matrix of the battery to act as a barrier for migrating vanadium ions.
They then tested the membrane’s electrochemical performance, which led to the discovery that tungsten trioxide nanoparticles grown on the nanosheets surface reduced the proton diffusion paths across the membrane.
The researchers then compared the performance of two vanadium redox flow battery cells, one with the new hybrid membrane and the other that had a commercial Nafion ion-exchange membrane. They discovered that the Nafion membrane delivered energy efficiency of 81%, which was slightly lower than the 89% energy efficiency delivered by the hybrid ion-exchange membrane.
This study exhibits an effective strategy to improve the performance of vanadium redox flow batteries by using nanomaterials, which can be extended to other ion-exchange membrane applications, including fuel cells and water purification.
Currently, the pumped hydroelectric storage technique is used to store more than 90% of the global grid electricity. Under this method, the energy is stored in an elevated reservoir as the potential energy of water. This solution is limited by various environmental and geographical factors and requires expensive infrastructure, which makes it less than ideal.
Conventional battery storage is also used to store energy, making up about 5% of grid storage of electricity globally. These batteries have many disadvantages, with lithium-based technology being too costly for large-scale applications and lead-acid technology losing storage capacity too quickly.
Unlike these storage methods, vanadium redox flow batteries are reliable as well as relatively affordable. These batteries use an externally stored liquid electrolyte, which is delivered to the unit when they need to generate electricity. This ensures that the battery’s storage capacity and power output are independent.
Vanadium redox flow batteries are in a phase of rapid evolution right now, and it may not be surprising to see companies such as StorEn Technologies Inc. deploy different versions as improvements are proven in the field.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to StorEn Technologies Inc. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/StorEn
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