grid-scale flow batteries may be a good addition to power grids

Startup EnerVault has a proposal for an economical to build grid-scale flow battery setup that emphasizes upon the use of a proprietary pump system. Flow battery design has proven to be a potential way to store power for off-hour use on today’s power grids.

This specific type of setup is ideal for fluctuating power needs, as capacity can be added as needed, separate from the power output of the grid. It also is easy to integrate into current installations, due to it’s modular design.

According to the source Technology Review:

Flow batteries use two big tanks of liquid electrolytes, which are circulated several times through a vessel where an electrochemical reaction takes place across a membrane. When connected to a load, a current is produced when electrons move from negative electrolyte to the positive. During recharge, a current is applied to reverse the reaction. Flow batteries are generally considered safe, an important issue for grid-scale batteries where thermal runaway of conventional batteries has caused fires at least two cases.

However the initial cost is still considered fairly high compared to other more economical solutions, such as pumped Hydro and compressed air storage methods, so more research will need to be done.

By Michael Nace

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