Organic, water-based battery a game-changer for renewable energy

A battery that runs on naturally occurring organic materials dissolved in water could be a “game-changer” in the quest for grid-scale electricity storage, according to its inventors, a team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC). The water-based organic battery is claimed to be long lasting, cheap and environmentally friendly.

As described in a statement from the university, the battery uses no metals or toxic materials. It is intended for use in power plants, where its large-scale storage capacity can add resilience and efficiency to the power grid.

Sri-Naratan-professor-chemistry-University-Southern-California-energy-storage-battery-organic-carbon-dioxide-quinones-EDIWeekly
Chemistry professor Sri Narayan of the University of Southern California worked on a new water-based organic battery.

“The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated 15-year lifespan,’ said Sri Narayan, professor of chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and corresponding author of a paper describing the new batteries in Journal of the Electrochemical Society. ‘Lithium ion batteries degrade after around 1,000 cycles, and cost 10 times more to manufacture.”

Organic flow batteries like this one will be game-changers because of their simplicity, cost, reliability and sustainability, one of the research team said. It is the lack of such reliable “mega-scale” energy storage capacity, and the problem of intermittency in the generation of power, that is holding back the country’s use of more renewable energy sources.

The USC battery is based on a redox flow design, similar to a fuel cell, with two tanks of electroactive materials dissolved in water. The tanks can be as large as needed. The solutions are pumped into a cell containing a membrane between the two fluids with electrodes on either side, releasing energy. The release of the energy can be controlled, which alters the amount of power generated by the system.

The breakthrough in this battery is in the electroactive materials. Instead of metals and toxic chemicals, the USC scientists found by experimentation and molecule design that certain oxidized organic compounds called quinones could be used. Quinones are found in plants, fungi, bacteria, and some animals, and are involved in photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

They are the types of molecules “that nature uses for energy transfer.” The potential exists, the USC statement says, to derive quinones from carbon dioxide. Currently they are manufactured from naturally occurring hydrocarbons.

 

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Vanadium dioxide (VO2) metal conducts electricity — with ten times less heat
  • French aerospace companies to set up shop in Montreal
  • Stronger concrete made from recycled tires developed by UBC Engineers: could help reduce carbon footprint of 3 billion tires-a-year
  • Canada could lead the world in cleantech: report
  • Major iron ore mine gets approval in Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Windsor's good fortune with Chrysler hiring tempered by TPP concerns
  • US could be free of non-North American oil by 2020
  • Flying car maker looking for first orders for its sports car/gyrocopter PAL-V
  • Cars with “Nerves”? Self diagnostics and magnetostrictive material may deliver cars with feeling.
  • Bankrupt hockey skate manufacturer bought by Canadian investors
  • Oxygen from moondust? The European Space Agency is working on an "breathable air" plants for moon bases
  • Drivers want hydrogen-fueled cars says Hyundai
  • Bill Gates betting we can invent our way to a clean energy world
  • Are we ready to let go of the wheel? The current state of self-driving car technology.
  • First vehicle powered by sodium-ion battery shown in UK
  • Scientists claim 30 per cent improvement in solar cell efficiency
  • Toyota Canada top producer for first time in 2015; RAV4 on a roar
  • Bombardier promises to deal with Toronto's streetcars, while CSeries sales take off
  • Keystone XL clears another hurdle but fight not over
  • Russian leasing company orders 42 CSeries jets from Bombardier
Scroll to Top