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What Is a Flow Battery-Vanadium, Cost and Current Flow？
Over the years, there has been the emergence of multiple changes and innovations in the battery industry. The sole reason behind this is the need to have more sustainable options when it comes to battery usage for different applications. One of the most futuristic approaches in this regard is a flow battery. It is yet another rechargeable battery in which electrolyte flows via one electrochemical cell or more from one tank or more.
In a flow battery, it is extremely simple to maximize the energy storage capacity. It can be done via boosting the quantity of electrolyte which is stored in the tanks. In a flow battery, electroactive materials are used for the purpose of reduction and oxidation. Some of the common redox pairs are vanadium and vanadium, iron and chromium, and zinc and bromine. Vanadium flow batteries are known to be the future of utility-scale energy storage.
What is a vanadium flow battery?
A vanadium flow battery, V- flow or a vanadium redox battery is described as a great utility-scale battery storage technology that is all set to emerge in the commercial market because of its different advantages. These batteries are nonflammable, containerized, and compact in nature. There is no point of doubt that new battery technology is required and significant for new energy storage future. Since vanadium flow batteries utilize multiple valence states of vanadium to release and store charges, these batteries are becoming very promising for future needs.
The vanadium redox flow battery, i.e., VRFB, is a rechargeable battery that contains vanadium ions in various oxidation and reduction states so as to store chemical potential energy. In this type of battery, vanadium is present in the solution in four oxidation states; due to this, vanadium flow battery comprises just one electroactive component instead of two. When it comes to the invention of vanadium redox flow batteries, it is said that they were invented in the 1980s by Professor Maria Skyllas-Kazacos.
Due to different reasons, such as its bulkiness, these batteries are used for different grid energy storage purposes as of now; it includes electrical grids or power plants. These batteries are appropriate for large-scale energy storage options, which include but are not limited to residential, utility, industrial, and commercial applications. Limited self-discharge is an attribute of vanadium redox battery. Due to this, these batteries are useful where the batteries are stored for a long time with little or no maintenance while upholding their condition. For this reason, vanadium redox batteries are useful for military electronics as well.
The ability to fully cycle up and stay at a zero percent charge state makes the battery appropriate for solar and storage applications. Here, the battery is required to start each day unfilled and fill up on the basis of load and weather. There are many characteristics of vanadium flow battery that make it a leading and successful technology when it comes to energy storage. Following are some of the advantages of vanadium redox flow battery:
Unlike other battery chemistries like lithium-ion, vanadium flow batteries tend to have a long lifetime. This is due to the original nature of the battery’s chemistry and the electrochemical reactions that take place inside the battery.
?Extended Service Life:
Due to the presence of semi-permanent electrolyte with minimal electrode degradation enables a high number of full charge and discharge cycles. The electrodes of the battery do not undergo any physical and chemical changes. Along with this, cooling down of the electrodes via pumped electrolyte helps in proper heat management and distribution.
?No Loss of Charge:
If flow batteries are not used for a prolonged time, there will be a little self-discharge only because electrolytes carrying charges are stored in separate tanks.
?Low Rate of Maintenance:
There is no need for overcharging in order to ensure uniform charge, which confirms that these batteries are low maintenance batteries.
?Less Environmental Impacts:
Vanadium present in vanadium redox batteries is recyclable in nature. It can be recovered from industrial waste products as well; therefore, it can be said that vanadium recovery from waste products helps in cleaning the environment.
What does a flow battery cost?
It won’t be wrong here to proclaim that vanadium flow battery outcompetes lithium-ion battery and all other kinds of solid batteries when it comes to utility-scale applications. The reason for this is that these batteries are much safer, scalable, and long-lasting in nature. Since vanadium is more than lithium in the earth’s crust, it will cost less than half as compared to the cost of lithium-ion batteries per kWh.
If reports are to be believed, then US-based researchers have claimed to add iron sulfate to anthraquinonoid disulfonic acid in the redox flow battery. According to them, the combination will give cheap and highly stable redox flow storage for $54 per kWh. In order to enhance the solubility and stability of the redox flow battery, iron sulfate and AQDS (anthraquinone disulfonic acid) are combined.
What is the current flow in a battery?
In a flow battery, two fluids remain separated by a membrane and circulate so as to promote ion exchange between them. The fluid containing the active materials is pumped via the cell, which results in the reduction and/or oxidation on both sides of the membrane, resulting in electrical potential. In other batteries, without having a bulk flow of the electrolyte, all the electroactive materials are stored internally in the electrodes. On the other side, when it comes to flow batteries, the energy material gets dissolved in the electrolyte only.
The electrolyte is stored in the external tanks, out of which one tank is in correspondence to the negative and the other tank to the positive electrode. During the discharge process, the chemical reaction is explained in the half-reactions, which is mentioned here:
An+1 - e- → An
Cn+1 + e- → Cn