One of the biggest problems with lithium-ion batteries is that they degrade over time. After a few year of heavy use, these batteries can lose a lot of their capacity and therefore aren’t the best option for energy storage systems.
A team of researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) is trying to solve this problem. They have developed a new flow battery that loses just one percent of its capacity per 1000 cycles and may last for over a decade. It looks to be a great storage solution for renewable energy like wind and solar.
Scientists developed the new battery by modifying the structures of molecules used in the positive and negative electrolyte solutions as well as making them water soluble. This also means that the battery is a lot safer and if it leaks, it wouldn’t do much damage since the medium is noncorrosive.
In addition to lasting longer and being a lot safer to use, the new battery developed by the team of researchers is also a lot cheaper to produce. The majority of flow batteries use expensive polymers that are capable of withstanding aggressive chemistry that’s found inside of the device. By using salt water on both sides of the membrane, these polymers, which account for up to one-third of the total cost of a battery, can be replaced by hydrocarbons that are a lot more affordable.
The new battery technology has a lot of potential, but it will probably take quite a bit of time before it hits the market. If that even happens. A lot of these new battery inventions look promising at first but unfortunately never make it to the market. Let’s hope this one is different.