Batteries are indispensable part of our life. From phones to laptops, Tablets to cars, Kitchen appliances to gadgets. They are also a key part of making renewable energy viable as a long-term solution to our power requirements.
Scientists from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences build a new flow battery that could stores energy in organic molecules dissolved in neutral-pH water.
Flow batteries can store energy in liquid solutions in external tanks- the bigger the tanks, the more energy they store. By storing energy in liquids, these batteries should retain their capacity and discharge rates for well over a decade.
The trick was to modify the molecules in the electrolytes, ferrocene and viologen, so that they’re stable, water-soluble and resistant to degradation. When they’re dissolved in neutral water, the resulting solution only loses 1 percent of its capacity every 1,000 cycles. It could be several years before you even notice a slight drop off in performance.
Basing battery technology around electrified water may sound rather dangerous and suspect, but in reality the use of water makes battery packs far safer than the current acidic models used today. For one, it’s non-corrosive and isn’t toxic, meaning no more dangerous exploding smartphones in your pocket. Using water will also severely drop the cost of manufacturing too, ensuring battery-based energy storage solutions finally become cost effective.
Currently there are no plans to bring these flow batteries to market, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t already manufacturers out there eyeing up the potential new technology.