Researchers modify hybrid flow battery electrodes with nanomaterials

Researchers modify hybrid flow battery electrodes with nanomaterials
A binder-free horizontal electrophoretic deposition process is used to activate commercial carbon paper electrodes using nitrogen-doped graphene. Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

Researchers in WMG at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with Imperial College London, have found a way to enhance hybrid flow batteries and their commercial use. The new approach can store electricity in these batteries for very long durations for about a fifth the price of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions.

The researchers enhanced three hybrid flow cells using nitrogen doped graphene (exposed to nitrogen plasma) in a binder-free electrophoresis technique (EPD).

Wind and solar power are increasingly popular sources for . Unfortunately, intermittency issues keep them from connecting widely to the National grid. One potential solution to this problem involves in the deployment of long-duration battery technology, such as the . Despite its great promise the current costs of this system are a key determining factor to real-world adoption. An affordable grid battery should cost £75/kWh, according to the US Department of Energy. Lithium-ion batteries, which lead the charge for grid storage, cost about £130/kWh.

Now WMG researchers have found a way of enhancing hybrid flow batteries or regenerative fuel cell (RFC) technology that could store electricity for very long durations for about one-fifth the cost of current storage technologies, with flexibility in siting and with minimal environmental impact. The technology combines carbon-based electrodes with economically sourced electrolytes, (manganese or sulfur, which are abundant chemicals in the planet) by means of a simple and yet highly effective electrophoretic deposition of nano-carbon additives (nitrogen-doped graphene) that enhance the electrode durability and performance significantly in highly acidic or alkaline environments.

The researchers have published their findings in a paper titled "Hybrid Redox Flow Cells with Enhanced Electrochemical Performance via Binderless and Electrophoretically Deposited Nitrogen-Doped Graphene on Carbon Paper Electrodes" in the December 2020 edition of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Dr. Barun Chakrabarti, a Research Fellow in WMG at the University of Warwick and one of the lead authors on the paper said:

"This EPD technique is not only simple but also improves the efficiencies of three different economical hybrid flow batteries thereby increasing their potential for widespread commercial adoption for grid-scale energy storage."

The hybrid flow battery's total chemical cost is about 1/30th the cost of competing batteries, such as lithium-ion systems. Scaled-up technologies may be used to store electricity from wind or , for multiple days to entire seasons, for about £15 to £20 per kilowatt hour. These batteries are also extremely useful for grid-scale load leveling applications as their design is very flexible due to their unique feature of sizing their power independently of their energy.

The energy density of a hybrid flow battery, especially the polysulphide/air system (S-Air), is 500 times higher than pumped hydroelectric storage. It is also so much more compact and can be placed near any renewable generation.


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More information: Barun Kumar Chakrabarti et al. Hybrid Redox Flow Cells with Enhanced Electrochemical Performance via Binderless and Electrophoretically Deposited Nitrogen-Doped Graphene on Carbon Paper Electrodes, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (2020). DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c17616
Citation: Researchers modify hybrid flow battery electrodes with nanomaterials (2021, January 22) retrieved 26 February 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-hybrid-battery-electrodes-nanomaterials.html
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