MIT Researchers Develop Potentially Superior Flow Battery

Researchers at MIT have created a zinc-manganese dioxide flow battery for the storage of energy for long durations, which may be more affordable in comparison to other energy storage technologies. This Zn-MnO2 flow battery has been designed using a new electrode that is made from a mixture that contains diffused manganese dioxide particles and a lot of carbon black. Carbon black is an additive that is electrically conductive, which was added to give it an electric punch as well as pigment.

The researchers stated that the compound reacted with zinc plate or a zinc solution, which enabled efficient conversion of electrochemical energy. They explained that the zinc-manganese-oxide battery’s fluid properties were different from the solutions utilized by other flow batteries.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers conducted tests on the battery to ensure that it could provide optimal electrochemical mix.

Gareth McKinley, a scientist and a part of the research team, stated that for optimal electrochemical mix, the systems had to have a weaker yield stress to prevent the active manganese dioxide particles from sinking to the bottom of the tank when the storage system wasn’t in use. This is in addition to flowing under reasonable pressures.

McKinley added that a weaker yield stress would also prevent the active particles from separating into a paste of manganese dioxide and carbon particles and an oily clear/battery fluid phase.

The researchers conducted a techno-economic assessment on their flow battery, with their results comparing the performance of their zinc-manganese dioxide battery with the performance of a corresponding electrochemical battery.

Thaneer Malai Narayanan, another researcher who was part of the design team, explained that they conducted an extensive bottom-up analysis in order to comprehend how the composition of the battery impacted its cost as well as its performance. Narayanan asserted that through this analysis, the researchers demonstrated that their system could be scaled up and was also cheaper than other flow batteries.

According to their study, their battery design performed better than vanadium redox flow batteries and Li-ion batteries, when the batteries’ discharge over a 24-hour period was compared. The researchers note that this was still true, even after they factored in the hefty expense of pumping the manganese dioxide slurry to stack from a tank.

The team is now focused on building up their battery system for use in storing energy in the near future. Their battery design, as well as their study findings, were published in “Joule.”

The flow battery chemistry developed by the MIT team is a good thing because it adds onto the options available on the market from companies such as StorEn Technologies Inc. It is now up to the market to choose which system best suits a given application.

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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