Long-Lasting Flow Battery Could Run More than a Decade

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April 10, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: April 10 on

A new flow battery from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) stores energy in organic molecules dissolved in neutral pH water. Losing only one percent of its capacity per 1000 cycles, the non-toxic, non-corrosive device offers the potential to significantly decrease the costs of production.

“Lithium ion batteries don’t even survive 1000 complete charge/discharge cycles,” said Michael Aziz, the Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies.

Flow batteries, a promising solution for renewable, intermittent energy like wind and solar, store energy in liquid solutions, held in external tanks. The Harvard team modified the structures of molecules used in the positive and negative electrolyte solutions, making them water soluble.

“Because we were able to dissolve the electrolytes in neutral water, this is a long-lasting battery that you could put in your basement,” said Roy Gordon, the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science.