Newsletter #1 — A word from our Project Coordinator

You can read BALIHT’s first newsletter by following this link.

Energy flow and energy demand rarely coincide — which is perhaps the biggest challenge for non-continuous renewables. This makes batteries essential to Europe’s decarbonisation — batteries supply energy when it is needed, rather than when the sun shines or the wind blows.

But not all batteries are alike. The redox flow battery (RFB) technology, despite higher upfront costs and lower energy density, has a shorter payback time thanks to a good capacity retention even after many thousands of cycles. Their modular design enables energy storage capacities ranging from mere megawatt-hours to gigawatt-hours. RFB technology can suitably supply both small companies and entire regions — and anything in between.

While existing flow batteries commonly use electrolytes made of metals, organic redox-active molecules show promising prospects as a low-cost and abundant alternative. They also offer high tunability of both potential and solubility. And whereas metal-based chemistries require expensive corrosion-resistant materials to maintain strongly acidic or alkaline conditions, the organic-based chemistries are safely and easily contained in polymeric tanks.

Redox flow batteries are usually designed to work at room temperatures up to 40°C. If they are used in repetitive charging cycles or warmer climates, such batteries may heat up and therefore require cooling and complex battery management systems to avoid malfunctioning and electrolyte degradation.

This is why BALIHT is developing a new organic redox flow battery suitable to work up to temperatures of 80°C. The battery will not require a cooling system and therefore be up to 20% more energy efficient than existing organic redox flow batteries.

To make this innovation happen, our team of researchers and industry experts have been working on various aspects of the battery’s development over the past months.

BALIHT partners identified, characterised, and synthesised organic lithium-based electrolytes that can be used in warm environments under heavy use. The appropriate candidate will be scaled up to a pilot phase to produce enough material for a prototype system. In addition, our team developed an exhaustive list of essential requirements for redox batteries to be used in repetitive cycles of charging and discharging or placed in warm climates.

On the exploitation side, BALIHT’s partners studied the current state-of-the-art and patents related to BALIHT’s organic-based electrolytes, ionic membranes, electrodes and battery frames, electrolyte tanks, energy & battery management systems and other battery components. We also studied and analysed all available information on regulatory and cultural barriers which may hamper the uptake of organic redox flow batteries, which paves the way for the future exploitation of our innovative technology.

Finally, our team has been busy with the internal organisation of the project to facilitate the consortium’s work, with regular meetings to exchange on the evolution of our work and to assess whether BALIHT’s objectives are being met. And to ensure that word about our project results is spread, the consortium is actively communicating about the project and reaching out to its stakeholder community such as through this newsletter — which we hope you will find interesting and informative!

Javier Peña — AIMPLAS, Project Coordinator

You can read BALIHT’s first newsletter by following this link.

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