Liquid battery could lead to flexible energy storage

August 14, 2018, University of Glasgow
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new type of energy storage system could revolutionise energy storage and drop the charging time of electric cars from hours to seconds.

In a new paper published today in the journal Nature Chemistry, chemists from the University of Glasgow discuss how they developed a system using a nano-molecule that can store electric power or giving a new type of hybrid storage system that can be used as a flow battery or for hydrogen storage.

Their 'hybrid-electric-hydrogen' flow battery, based upon the design of a nanoscale battery molecule can store energy, releasing the power on demand as electric power or hydrogen gas that can be used a fuel. When a concentrated liquid containing the nano-molecules is made, the amount of energy it can store increases by almost 10 times. The energy can be released as either electricity or hydrogen gas meaning that the system could be used flexibly in situations that might need either a fuel or .

One potential benefit of this system is that could be charged in seconds, as the material is a pumpable liquid. This could mean that the battery of an electric car could be "recharged" in roughly the same length of time as petrol cars can be filled up. The old liquid would be removed at the same time and recharged ready to be used again.

The approach was designed and developed by Professor Leroy (Lee) Cronin, the University of Glasgow's Regius Chair of Chemistry, and Dr. Mark Symes, Senior Lecturer in Electrochemistry, also at the University of Glasgow with Dr. Jia Jia Chen, who is a researcher in the team. They are convinced that this result will help pave the way for the development of new energy storage systems that could be used in electric cars, for the storage of renewable energy, and to develop electric-to-gas energy systems for when a fuel is required.

Professor Cronin said: "For future renewables to be effective high capacity and flexible are needed to smooth out the peaks and troughs in supply. Our approach will provide a new route to do this electrochemically and could even have application in electric cars where batteries can still take hours to recharge and have limited capacity. Moreover, the very high energy density of our material could increase the range of electric cars, and also increase the resilience of systems to keep the lights on at times of peak demand."

Explore further: Turbocharge for lithium batteries

More information: Jia-Jia Chen et al. Highly reduced and protonated aqueous solutions of [P2W18O62]6− for on-demand hydrogen generation and energy storage, Nature Chemistry (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41557-018-0109-5

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4 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2018
Another numbers-free article.
What is the energy density?
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2018
.. polyoxoanion, [P2W18O62]6−, that can be reversibly reduced and protonated by 18 electrons/H+ per anion in aqueous solution, and that can act either as a high-performance redox flow battery electrolyte (giving a practical discharged energy density of 225 Wh l−1 with a theoretical energy density of more than 1,000 Wh l−1), or as a mediator in an electrolytic cell for the on-demand generation of hydrogen.
not rated yet Aug 14, 2018
Starting from Lithium tungstate (Li2WO4, 7.64 g, 0.029 mol) was dissolved in boiling water (12 mL in a 50 mL round-bottomed flask) and stirred for 10 min. Then, 16 g of 85% phosphoric acid (H3PO4) was added slowly..
Aug 14, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
3 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2018
t, which is liquid even at the -11 K

At -11 Kelvin? I doubt that.

It could be possible to tank molten lithium

You really, really don't want pump molten lithium in vehicle tanks that are of unknown state of maintenance. That is the worst fire you've ever seen waiting to happen.

One issue with redox flow batteries is that you're pretty much stuck to one type once you roll it out for mobility applications. They are a really good idea for stationary applications, though (where you can have different types depending on what the best material was when you built the installation)

Another is that you are again beholden to the makers of this 'fuel' (and their random price policies)...whereas with a battery EV you have the option of taking the production of the fuel into your own hands.
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2018
or mixture of sodium and potassium, which is liquid even at the -11 K

I believe that should be −12.6°C (and no lower) for a 77% potassium 23% sodium mix.
There isn't such thing as -11 K (in case you didn't already know that).
1 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2018
Or you could just use water.

-The brilliant mad dr. Mills has been busy indeed-
not rated yet Aug 17, 2018
Oh cool, so now when vehicles crash they can be more explosive and spray chemicals all over everyone?
1 / 5 (2) Aug 17, 2018
You mean as opposed to now where they can crash and spray chemicals all over everyone?

Vehicles carry energy. In all cases you can fabricate a scenario where this energy is released in an uncontrolled manner. The type of energy carrier is irrelevant* (Though battery powered cars are a lot more efficient than ICE cars and thus need to carry less total energy for the same amount of utility)

*that is until we get fusion powered cars or somesuch. Those could actually not explode.

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