Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Upgrading the vanadium redox battery

18.03.2011
New electrolyte mix increases energy storage by 70 percent

Though considered a promising large-scale energy storage device, the vanadium redox battery's use has been limited by its inability to work well in a wide range of temperatures and its high cost.

But new research indicates that modifying the battery's electrolyte solution significantly improves its performance. So much so that the upgraded battery could improve the electric grid's reliability and help connect more wind turbines and solar panels to the grid.

In a paper published by the journal Advanced Energy Materials, researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that adding hydrochloric acid to the sulfuric acid typically used in vanadium batteries increased the batteries' energy storage capacity by 70 percent and expanded the temperature range in which they operate.

"Our small adjustments greatly improve the vanadium redox battery," said lead author and PNNL chemist Liyu Li. "And with just a little more work, the battery could potentially increase the use of wind, solar and other renewable power sources across the electric grid."

Unlike traditional power, which is generated in a reliable, consistent stream of electricity by controlling how much coal is burned or water is sent through dam turbines, renewable power production depends on uncontrollable natural phenomena such as sunshine and wind. Storing electricity can help smooth out the intermittency of renewable power while also improving the reliability of the electric grid that transmits it. Vanadium batteries can hold on to renewable power until people turn on their lights and run their dishwashers. Other benefits of vanadium batteries include high efficiency and the ability to quickly generate power when it's needed as well as sit idle for long periods of time without losing storage capacity.

A vanadium battery is a type of flow battery, meaning it generates power by pumping liquid from external tanks to the battery's central stack, or a chamber where the liquids are mixed. The tanks contain electrolytes, which are liquids that conduct electricity. One tank has the positively-charged vanadium ion V5+ floating in its electrolyte. And the other tank holds an electrolyte full of a different vanadium ion, V2+. When energy is needed, pumps move the ion-saturated electrolyte from both tanks into the stack, where a chemical reaction causes the ions to change their charge, creating electricity.

To charge the battery, electricity is sent to the vanadium battery's stack. This causes another reaction that restores the original charge of vanadium ions. The electrical energy is converted into chemical energy stored in the vanadium ions. The electrolytes with their respective ions are pumped back into to their tanks, where they wait until electricity is needed and the cycle is started again.

A battery's capacity to generate electricity is limited by how many ions it can pack into the electrolyte. Vanadium batteries traditionally use pure sulfuric acid for their electrolyte. But sulfuric acid can only absorb so many vanadium ions.

Another drawback is that sulfuric acid-based vanadium batteries only work between about 50 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 40 Celsius). Below that temperature range, the ion-infused sulfuric acid crystallizes. The larger concern, however, is the battery overheating, which causes an unwanted solid to form and renders the battery useless. To regulate the temperature, air conditioners or circulating cooling water are used, which causes up to 20 percent energy loss and significantly increasing the battery's operating cost, the researchers noted.

Wanting to improve the battery's performance, Li and his colleagues began searching for a new electrolyte. They tried a pure hydrochloric acid electrolyte, but found it caused one of the vanadium ions to form an unwanted solid. Next, they experimented with various mixtures of both hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. PNNL scientists found the ideal balance when they mixed 6 parts hydrochloric acid with 2.5 parts sulfuric acid. They verified the electrolyte and ion molecules present in the solution with a nuclear magnetic resonance instrument and the Chinook supercomputer at EMSL, DOE's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at PNNL.

Tests showed that the new electrolyte mixture could hold 70 percent more vanadium ions, making the battery's electricity capacity 70 percent higher. The discovery means that smaller tanks can be used to generate the same amount of power as larger tanks filled with the old electrolyte.

And the new mixture allowed the battery to work in both warmer and colder temperatures, between 23 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 to 50 Celsius), greatly reducing the need for costly cooling systems. At room temperature, a battery with the new electrolyte mixture maintained an 87 percent energy efficiency rate for 20 days, which is about the same efficiency of the old solution.

The results are promising, but more research is needed, the authors noted. The battery's stack and overall physical structure could be improved to increase power generation and decrease cost.

"Vanadium redox batteries have been around for more than 20 years, but their use has been limited by a relatively narrow temperature range," Li said. "Something as simple as adjusting the batteries' electrolyte means they can be used in more places without having to divert power output to regulate heat."

This research was supported by DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and internal PNNL funding.

REFERENCE: Liyu Li, Soowhan Kim, Wei Wang, M. Vijaayakumar, Zimin Nie, Baowei Chen, Jianlu Zhang, Guanguang Xia, Jianzhi Hu, Gordon Graff, Jun Liu, Zhenguo Yang. A Stable Vanadium Redox-Flow Battery with High Energy Density for Large-Scale Energy Storage. Advanced Energy Materials. Published online March 11, 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aenm.201100008/abstract;jsessionid

=1A732376F09811F2200A9CB8D1AE5891.d03t04

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (www.pnl.gov) is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory where interdisciplinary teams advance science and technology and deliver solutions to America's most intractable problems in energy, the environment and national security. PNNL employs 4,900 staff, has an annual budget of nearly $1.1 billion, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab's inception in 1965. Follow PNNL on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, (www.emsl.pnl.gov) is a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research program that is located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. EMSL offers an open, collaborative environment for scientific discovery to researchers around the world. EMSL's technical experts and suite of custom and advanced instruments are unmatched. Its integrated computational and experimental capabilities enable researchers to realize fundamental scientific insights and create new technologies. Follow EMSL on Facebook.

Franny White | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pnl.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Filter may be a match for fracking water
26.09.2017 | Swansea University

nachricht Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent
25.09.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nerves control the body’s bacterial community

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Four elements make 2-D optical platform

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan

26.09.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>