comment on this article

Advance in cheaper, safer flow battery research

A team of scientists and engineers from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has demonstrated a rechargeable battery that, it claims, could make storage of electricity from intermittent energy sources safe and cost-effective for residential and commercial use.

The work builds on the earlier development of a flow battery, in which rechargeability is provided by chemical components dissolved in liquids contained within the system.

According to the researchers, the active components in most flow battery designs are metal ions dissolved in acid. However, the team said, these metals can be expensive, corrosive, tricky to handle and kinetically sluggish.

Previously Professor Michael Aziz and his team demonstrated a flow battery that replaced metals with quinones, organic molecules featuring in biological processes like photosynthesis and cellular respiration. While quinones formed the negative side of the battery, the positive side relied on a bromine bearing electrolyte. Looking to replace this, the team has used ferrocyanide ions.

“This is chemistry I’d be happy to put in my basement,” said Prof Aziz. “The non toxicity and cheap, abundant materials placed in water solution mean that it’s safe – it can’t catch on fire – and that’s huge when you’re storing large amounts of electrical energy anywhere near people.”

Ferrocyanide, which is soluble and stable in alkaline solutions, is paired with a quinone compound that is also soluble and stable under alkaline conditions. Because it is non-corrosive, the flow battery system components can be constructed of simpler, less expensive, materials such as plastics.

Graham Pitcher and Tom Austin-Morgan

Comment on this article

This material is protected by MA Business copyright See Terms and Conditions. One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not. For multiple copies contact the sales team.

What you think about this article:

Add your comments


Your comments/feedback may be edited prior to publishing. Not all entries will be published.
Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Related Articles

Research excellence

Set up in 1956 Roke Manor Research has over the past 60 years established ...

Get to market faster

A quick look at using Vicor's PFM and AIM in VIA packaging for your AC to Point ...

Mobile slowdown

With just under a week to go before Apple launches its new iPhone the press has ...

Broadband upgrade

BT has made an offer to the government to spend £600million to deliver 10Mbps ...