Electrochemists at the University of Cincinnati have reinvented the redox flow battery. Their design could one day power your house.
Flow batteries work by sending positively and negatively charged liquids past each other, separated by a membrane. Electric charges pass through the membrane, creating a current.
The batteries have been cumbersome and expensive, making them suitable mostly for industrial or grid-scale storage from solar, wind, and other renewable power installations.
The membrane is a sticking point: it reduces the battery’s efficiency and makes up as much as 40 percent of the cost.
The Cincinnati group has designed a membrane-free flow battery. Instead, their design uses two solutions that naturally repel each other but still allow electric charges to travel.
The new battery is not only far cheaper than other flow batteries but also stores more energy in the same amount of space. By altering the volume of fluids and size of the battery’s tank, it could fit into a garage or a home’s basement, delivering green energy even when the air is still or the sky is dark.
TRENDPOST: Home-scale batteries and solar and other off-grid energy sources will become more common in homes, especially newly built ones. Competing battery technologies will help boost efficiency and drive down costs and prices as home batteries proliferate well into the next decade.