By Carlo Brovero
The U.S. Department of Energy has just taken a big step toward America having an emissions-free economy by 2050 by setting aside $20 million for flow battery manufacturability.
The U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, recently tweeted:
Granholm understands that for renewable energy sources like solar and wind to take hold and become more commonly used, developing the right energy storage system is crucial.
As Congresswoman Diana DeGette of the U.S. House of Representatives recently told Energy Storage News:
“The key to unlocking the full potential of solar and wind energy is to store it for use around the clock. Flow battery technology can help us utilize the full potential of these clean-energy resources….”
Are Flow Batteries Now the Future of Grid Energy Storage?
The government’s decision to set aside money for flow battery manufacturability, along with the positive comments from Secretary Granholm, indicates a dedication within the U.S. government to longer lasting, more environmentally friendly batteries like vanadium flow batteries.
Dr. Ted Roberts, an internationally recognized expert and innovator in the field of electrochemical technology, recently said, “Vanadium batteries will enable more efficient use of electricity by enabling better matching of supply and demand. This will enhance the efficiency and utilization of renewable generation such as solar and wind, as well as conventional generation from fossil fuels and nuclear power.”
He went on to say that in the future, “Vanadium flow batteries will likely be used in residential, commercial and industrial buildings, as well as integrated into electricity supply networks.”
Investors are also starting to notice the batteries because many believe these new funds will accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of this next-generation energy storage technology.
More specifically, the current funding allocation will allow the industry players to work together to develop advanced manufacturing processes to allow vanadium flow batteries to be more widely used both in the U.S. and around the world.
This news comes on the heels of the $40 billion available through Biden’s Department of Energy Loan Program Office for Innovative Technologies, including for energy storage products and manufacturing.
The growth of the vanadium flow battery market could be swift once these challenges are eliminated.
Flow Batteries Offer Big Advantages For Energy Storage
According to Dr. Roberts, who has published more than 100 papers in international journals, vanadium flow batteries have many benefits for our future.
The government approved this funding and wants flow batteries to become more widely used because they offer many positives when used in the clean energy sector.
For example, compared to another popular type of battery — lithium — flow batteries stand out in the following ways:
- Flow batteries have a much longer life cycle compared to lithium batteries.
Renewable Energy World says lithium performance degrades over time and is affected by heat. It says, “capacity of lithium-ion cells can drop to a 50 percent level after 1,200 to 1,500 discharges.” In comparison, Renewable Energy World says about vanadium — “the active ingredient is a low-cost, rechargeable electrolyte, which never wears out due to the type of chemical reaction involved.”
Both of these advantages are mainly because vanadium batteries store energy in tanks. To increase the energy storage, one only needs to enlarge the tank, reducing cost/kWh. In comparison, lithium batteries store energy in defined cells. To increase energy storage, more batteries must be purchased and used.
So What Exactly is Vanadium?
Vanadium is a semi-hard metal. In the past, various car parts — like piston rods, axles, and crankshafts — have been made from this metal.
This little known metal could be the solution to renewable energy’s biggest challenges; it is also quite effective at storing large amounts of electricity.
Another great quality of vanadium is that there is more of it on Earth than lithium.
Battery makers have been experiencing lithium shortages recently, and industry experts expect those shortages to continue in the future due to the limited supply of lithium and fast growing demand.
How Will the New Funding Increase the Availability of Flow Batteries?
A few challenges are currently keeping flow batteries from being more widely used:
- The high manufacturing cost. With the help of government funds for manufacturability, flow battery manufacturers can quickly create efficient, cost-effective industry-scale manufacturing processes that allow more flow batteries to be created less expensively.
The funds will enable manufacturers to create a stronger infrastructure to connect more easily with their supply chains.
- Their size. Energy storage systems on the grid require large batteries with significant system components, necessitating hundreds of kilograms of electrolytes. This design will allow companies to industrialize smaller vanadium flow batteries dedicated to a variety of applications such as residential storage and industrial.
- TRL and MRL. TRL refers to Technology Readiness Level, and MRL refers to Manufacturing Readiness Level.
To put it simply, flow batteries’ TRL is currently outpacing its MRL. Vanadium technology is effective and proven, but the ability to manufacture that technology in volumes and at low cost is crucial. These funds will bring these two things into balance and ultimately allow for greater commercial distribution of flow batteries.
Major Progress is Already Being Made
StorEn Technologies is already developing evolutionary vanadium flow batteries.
Incubated at the Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (CEBIP) within Stony Brook University in New York, the company aims to build upon the strengths of vanadium flow batteries to revolutionize the world of residential and industrial energy storage.
StorEn Tech batteries deliver superior performances at a lower cost and fulfill market demand for more efficient and cost-effective energy storage.
Some of the advantages of the company’s batteries include:
- 100 percent capacity retention
- Long life of 25+ years or 15,000 CYCLES
- An ability to increase capacity simply through tank expansion
StorEn Tech recently saw its 30kWh vanadium flow battery delivered to Multicom Resources Limited, at the National Battery Testing Centre (NBTC), a flagship project of the Future Battery Industries CRC, a federal organization dedicated to creating an energy storage manufacturing industry in Australia.
The installation was funded under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s H2Xport Project. Peter Talbot, a professor at QUT, said about the new battery — “vanadium flow battery technology promises safe, affordable and long-lasting energy storage for both households and industry.”
The battery allows Australian researchers to better understand vanadium flow batteries’ capabilities and to create safety standards for their future use in the country.
To learn much more about StorEn Tech, how it is advancing vanadium flow batteries, and investment opportunities in this rapidly-growing company, click here.
This Reg A+ offering is made available through StartEngine Primary, LLC. This investment is speculative, illiquid, and involves a high degree of risk, including the possible loss of your entire investment. For more information about this offering, please read StorEn Technologies offering circular as well as the risks associated with this offering.
*This article is supported by StorEn Technologies.