New flow battery technology being developed by Vinazene

Based
on the report published in Cleantechnica.com, an “affordable” flow battery
technology is currently under development by researchers at Ann Arbor–based
Vinazene Inc., in partnership with Grand Valley State University’s Michigan
Alternative and Renewable Energy Center and its Chemistry Department. The new project
— which is funded by a DOE Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant —
is based around the use of proprietary, high-capacity organic electrolytes. The
use of these organic electrolytes, rather than relatively expensive metals like
vanadium, is what will reportedly allow for greater “affordability” — to date,
the barrier to wide-scale use of flow battery technologies has been their
relatively high costs.

Image
Credit: Vinazene Inc

Another
purported advantage of the use of these proprietary organic electrolytes is the
ability to specifically tailor the compounds used for higher solubility
(amongst other traits). The Vinazene battery will reportedly have a higher
energy density than the more well-known vanadium-based systems, owing to this
higher solubility.

Based
on Vinazene’s website, the researchers involved seem pretty bullish on the
technology — but then they often do, don’t they? Still, it sounds like there’s
potential there. Perhaps something will come of it. The researchers mention
possible uses in remote military, surveillance, and/or telecommunication sites.
Other potential uses include those in greenhouse farming and various types of
industrial production facilities.
As
per company’s words, “In our Phase II research, we will optimize the novel
organic active materials in our battery. We will construct prototypes to
demonstrate the effectiveness of our design, at two levels, a 4 watt model to
test active material and efficiency, and a 40 watt model to verify cycle life
and storage life. The 40 watt device will require scale-up of our active
materials which will be done by a toll manufacturing facility under Vinazene
supervision. The data from these prototypes will be input into a computer
simulation for design of kilowatt scale device. Our prototype and modeling will
show customers and investors that our uniquely high energy density and low cost
materials will provide valuable energy storage at a lower price than currently
available technology. Successfully entering the commercial energy storage
market with a new technology is of course easier said than done. But we’ll see.”

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