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New Flow Battery - Packed with Power Potential

March 2015

A newly designed flow battery has more energy than any other on the market – perhaps enough to power vehicles. The battery, a zinc-polyiodide redox flow battery, was developed by staff in the Electrochemical Materials and Systems group at PNNL with funding from the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

Flow batteries, typically used to store energy in support of the power grid, are rechargeable and energized by two chemical components that dissolve in liquids contained within the system. After they're fully charged, flow batteries convert chemically-stored energy into electricity. Improved energy density in the new zinc-polyiodide version allows the battery to be smaller. This reduces capital costs for system components, and is also important for urban settings that have little space.

This advanced, energy dense battery discharges record high amounts of watt-hours per liter. During testing, the battery discharged 167 watt-hours per liter of electrolyte, about seven times as much as vanadium flow batteries. The research team calculated the new battery can discharge up to 322 watt-hours per liter by adding more chemicals to the electrolyte.

The new flow battery also addresses safety concerns – it’s nearly impossible for the chemicals to catch fire and corrosion isn’t an issue. Other batteries require heating and cooling systems, cutting into power production, but the new flow battery contains electrolytes that allow it to operate in very hot and cold climates.

The research team now plans to build a larger, 100-watt-hour battery model to run additional tests. To learn more about the new battery, read the PNNL press release or the manuscript published in Nature Communications.

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