Harvard researchers have developed a non-toxic, non-corrosive flow battery that can last more than a decade. Led by professors Michael Aziz and Roy Gordon, this innovative research could change the way people utilize power all over the world.
A flow battery stores energy using liquid electrolytes in two separate external tanks. To recharge the flow battery, all it’s required to replace the electrolytes. One of the major drawbacks of those flow batteries is they get weaker each time the electrolytes are replaced. Also, the tanks and membranes have to withhold corrosive or toxic liquids, meaning that it’s pretty expensive to develop and maintain those batteries.
To fix the problem, researchers modified the chemical composition of the positive and negative electrolyte solutions and made them water soluble. The result is a battery that loses only one per cent of its capacity per 1,000 cycles.
“Lithium ion batteries don’t even survive 1000 complete charge/discharge cycles,” said Aziz.
“Because we were able to dissolve the electrolytes in neutral water, this is a long-lasting battery that you could put in your basement,” said Gordon. “If it spilled on the floor, it wouldn’t eat the concrete and since the medium is noncorrosive, you can use cheaper materials to build the components of the batteries, like the tanks and pumps.”
It’s not sure when this flow battery tech will come to the real world. However, this could get a specific market. Most of the flow batteries today use expensive polymers to neutralize the aggressive chemistry inside the battery. With water soluble positive and negative electrolyte solutions this expense can be reduced. their research was published in ACS Energy Letters.