Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



ENERGY TECH
Stabilizing energy storage
by Staff Writers
Salt Lake City UT (SPX) Feb 22, 2017


This is a diagram of a redox flow battery. An energy source, in this case a solar panel, provides the energy to the central cell to charge the battery. The charge is held in tanks of electrolytes that are pumped back into the cell to discharge the battery. Image courtesy Sharmila Samaroo/University of Michigan.

Because the sun doesn't always shine, solar utilities need a way to store extra charge for a rainy day. The same goes for wind power facilities, since the wind doesn't always blow. To take full advantage of renewable energy, electrical grids need large batteries that can store the power coming from wind and solar installations until it is needed. Some of the current technologies that are potentially very appealing for the electrical grid are inefficient and short-lived.

University of Utah and University of Michigan chemists, participating in the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, predict a better future for a type of battery for grid storage called redox flow batteries. Using a predictive model of molecules and their properties, the team has developed a charge-storing molecule around 1,000 times more stable than current compounds. Their results are reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"Our first compound had a half-life of about eight-12 hours," says U chemist Matthew Sigman, referring to the time period in which half of the compound would decompose. "The compound that we predicted was stable on the order of months."

Not your ordinary battery
For a typical residential solar panel customer, electricity must be either used as it's generated, sold back to the electrical grid, or stored in batteries. Deep-cycle lead batteries or lithium ion batteries are already on the market, but each type presents challenges for use on the grid.

All batteries contain chemicals that store and release electrical charge. However, redox flow batteries aren't like the batteries in cars or cell phones. Redox flow batteries instead use two tanks to store energy, separated by a central set of inert electrodes. The tanks hold the solutions containing molecules or charged atoms, called anolytes and catholytes, that store and release charge as the solution "flows" past the electrodes, depending on whether electricity is being provided to the battery or extracted from it.

"If you want to increase the capacity, you just put more material in the tanks and it flows through the same cell," says University of Michigan chemist Melanie Sanford. "If you want to increase the rate of charge or discharge, you increase the number of cells."

Current redox flow batteries use solutions containing vanadium, a costly material that requires extra safety in handling because of its potential toxicity. Formulating the batteries is a chemical balancing act, since molecules that can store more charge tend to be less stable, losing charge and rapidly decomposing.

Molecular bumper cars
Sanford began collaborating with Sigman and U electrochemist Shelley Minteer through the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), an Energy Innovation Hub dedicated to creating next-generation battery technologies.

Sanford's lab developed and tested potential electrolyte molecules, and sought to use predictive technology to help design better battery compounds. Minteer contributed expertise in electrochemistry and Sigman employed a computational method, which uses the structural features of a molecule to predict its properties. A similar approach is widely used in drug development to predict the properties of candidate drugs.

The team's work found that a candidate compound decomposed when two molecules interacted with each other. "These molecules can't decompose if they can't come together," Sanford says. "You can tune the molecules to prevent them from coming together."

Tuning a key parameter of those molecules, a factor describing the height of a molecular component, essentially placed a bumper or deflector shield around the candidate molecule.

The most exciting anolyte reported in the paper is based on the organic molecule pyridinium. It contains no metals and is intended to be dissolved in an organic solvent, further enhancing its stability. Other compounds exhibited longer half-lives, but this anolyte provides the best combination of stability and redox potential, which is directly related to how much energy it can store.

Sharing skills to build batteries
Sigman, Minteer and Sanford are now working to identify a catholyte to pair with this and future molecules. Other engineering milestones lay ahead in the development of a new redox flow battery technology, but determining a framework for improving battery components is a key first step.

"It's a multipart challenge, but you can't do anything if you don't have stable molecules with low redox potentials," Sanford says. "You need to work from there."

The team attributes their success thus far to the application of this structure-function relationship toolset, typically used in the pharmaceutical industry, to battery design. "We bring the tools of chemists to a field that was traditionally the purview of engineers," Sanford says.

Research paper

ENERGY TECH
Looking for the next leap in rechargeable batteries
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Feb 21, 2017
USC researchers may have just found a solution for one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the next wave of rechargeable batteries - small enough for cellphones and powerful enough for cars. In a paper published in the January issue of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Sri Narayan and Derek Moy of the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute outline how they developed an alteratio ... read more

Related Links
University of Utah
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

ENERGY TECH
Russia launches Progress MS-05 cargo mission to ISS

Cabbage Patch: 5th crop harvested aboard Space Station

Study: People don't want their future revealed

Art and space enter a new dimension

ENERGY TECH
SpaceX cargo ship aborts rendezvous with space station

Energia wants to finalize Sea Launch deal with Boeing

The Unique Triumph of PSLV-C37

Russia successfully launches space freighter after crash

ENERGY TECH
Scientists say Mars valley was flooded with water not long ago

Researchers pinpoint watery past on Mars

Opportunity passes 44 kilometers of surface travel after 13 years

Scientists shortlist three landing sites for Mars 2020

ENERGY TECH
China to launch first high-throughput communications satellite in April

Chinese cargo spacecraft set for liftoff in April

China looks to Mars, Jupiter exploration

China's first cargo spacecraft to leave factory

ENERGY TECH
Iridium Announces Target Date for Second Launch of Iridium NEXT

Italy, Russia working closely on Mars exploration, Earth monitoring satellites

NASA seeks partnerships with US companies to advance commercial space technologies

A New Space Paradigm

ENERGY TECH
Scientists discover how essential methane catalyst is made

New assembly method for ultra-conformable 'electronic tattoo' devices

Serendipity uncovers borophene's potential

Penn researchers are among the first to grow a versatile 2-dimensional material

ENERGY TECH
Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

60,000-year-old microbes found in Mexican mine: NASA scientist

Hunting for runaway worlds

Exoplanetary moons formed by giant impacts could be detected by Kepler

ENERGY TECH
Juno to remain in current orbit at Jupiter

NASA receives science report on Europa lander concept

New Horizons Refines Course for Next Flyby

It's Never 'Groundhog Day' at Jupiter




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement