Flow Batteries: The Next Generation

I have just been sent a link to the International Energy Agency’s report on Batteries and Secure Energy Transitions. Forgive me, but my first instinct on reading any report on batteries is to search for references to flow batteries. The word flow is mentioned 22 times in the report, but a few of these refer to either capital flow or cash flow! But it is still pleasing to see that the authors recognise the role of flow batteries. They have mentioned the ~800 MWh flow battery in Dalian China (one of the projects which we will be discussing at the IFBF this year) and there are several references to flow batteries as a promising new technology, with applications in the multi-hour storage sector. The authors acknowledge that flow batteries come in a variety of flavours, and that vanadium flow chemistry is reasonably mature.

The report states the importance of renewable energy supported by storage, and comments on the sources of the immense quantity of batteries needed. These are important topics for us to consider:

“The main challenge will be the ability to scale up rapidly over the coming years. However, this is only likely to happen in response to adequate signals, for example from the emergence of long duration energy storage markets” Batteries and Secure Energy Transitions

International Energy Agency (IEA), 2024

We have been discussing this for quite a few years. It is clear that if you can’t guarantee delivery of electricity a lot of people are going to lose a lot of money. That seems to be a good market signal and one that the California Energy Commission in particular is very happy to endorse. Not everyone in the power industry has seen this yet, but many have, and we believe that many flow battery companies are ready. We’ll hear at this year’s IFBF: representatives of Schunk, Centroplast, Scribner, Chemours, Wevo and Avcarb will be on hand to tell us how they support the flow battery industry, and suppliers including US Vanadium and Oxkem will help us understand the nature of electrolyte supply.

This is an exciting industry and one that is moving forward. It’s not just one technology and we have exciting news: developers of iron-based systems, soluble lead, manganese and lithium sulphur, and several organic and non-aqueous systems will tell us about the advantages of their alternative systems. A new generation of innovators has arrived, and they are working hard: we have 50 poster presenters who will be telling us about their latest work. This year we have posters on a range of hybrid flow systems, discussions on the chemical balance in iron / iron systems, use of in-line UV spectroscopy, development of zinc iodide chemistries, the further development of chromium flow batteries, as well as the of AI to uncover new flow battery chemistries.

The next generation of flow battery leaders is already working hard on improving our understanding of flow batteries. Come along and meet them, they are energetic and full of enthusiasm. They have already seen the opportunity for using flow batteries to make sure we can deliver electricity. The market is here, our capability is real. Come and share their enthusiasm as a new cleantech industry makes its mark on the power sector.

Finally, a gentle reminder: We still want your pictures for the flow battery photo exhibition! The subject area is broad: perhaps you have a good photo of a carbon electrode, or a novel welding technique for joining membrane assemblies? We would love to see your pumps and pipework! What happens when a solar eclipse meets 100 MWh of electrolyte? Be Creative!

You might be interested in …

Join the IFBF mailing list