Engineering

Strong Battery Made from Plastic and Salt

High-performance and low-cost power storage are a key technology for the energy revolution. On the way scientists from Jena have an important step: you have developed a redox-flow battery, comes with plastic and salt.

Nanoflowcell QUANT-Salon International Geneve 2015
The electric sports car Quantico, which was presented in March at the Geneva Auto show, is also a redox-flow battery using salt solution on board.

Power can is soon completely produced from renewable energy sources, technically no problem. There are two big obstacles but: the lack of distribution networks and the too low capacity on power saving, to compensate for the natural fluctuations of the wind and Sun. The jump over the first requires above all money, for the second inventor spirit. Because the large batteries that it uses so far, are extremely expensive and harmful to the environment.

Redox flow batteries are called these devices that store energy in solids such as metals, but in electrolyte solutions. They are stored in two tanks, making the negative and the positive terminal separated by a special membrane. So far, the electrolyte solutions consist usually of vanadium ions dissolved in sulphuric acid. Because sulfuric acid is known to be very aggressive, the batteries hold also very long. And although vanadium is a very common on Earth element, which must be reduced but in an expensive process to pure metal.

Performance almost as high as in conventional technology in Strong Battery Made from Plastic and Salt

Chemists from the University of Jena have now developed a redox-flow battery in the vanadium nor sulfuric acid is necessary. “The novel to our battery system is that it can be produced far more cheaply, but achieved yet almost the capacity and performance of traditional, metal and acid systems”, says Dr. Martin Hager. Their battery technology present scientists in the latest issue of the Science Magazine Nature (DOI: 10.1038/nature15746).

Strong Battery Made from Plastic and Salt
Wind turbine by Dong Energy: to prevent the emergence of fluctuating wind and solar energy, more energy storage are necessary. Now, Jena researchers have developed a redox-flow battery that comes with low-cost materials to good results.

The liquid storage medium consists of polymers, which swim in a simple saline solution in the new invention. These new plastics were similar in their construction Plexiglas and styrofoam, the scientists explain. Compared to these traditional materials, they have but it is the advantage that they can absorb electrons and leave.

Because the saline solution is watery and hardly aggressive, researchers can use a layer of cellulose which is simple and cheap as a membrane between the electrolyte tank. “These polymer-based redox-flow battery making it ideal as a energy storage for large wind and solar systems”, says Prof. Ulrich S. Schubert, Chair of organic and macromolecular chemistry at the University of Jena.

Long shelf life and often rechargeable

Up to 10,000 times the Jenaer according to own statements could reload their new batteries, and that no significant loss of charge capacity. Now they are working mainly to increase the energy density and to develop stronger and more efficient systems. They want to offer then market-ready products when it will be ready in their own start up JenaBatteries GmbH.

Using a similar technique, the Liechtenstein company Nanoflowcell succeed production of small power units. Included in the electric car in Quantico, which Nanoflowcell has presented in March at the Geneva Auto show, is a redox-flow battery, which should also work with solution line and allow the car a range of 1000 km.