Flow batteries are soon replacing lithium-ion batteries in renewables

The renewable industry is the future of energy production since many nations are shifting to zero-emission strategies aiming to reduce the use of fossil fuel. The gases released due to the combustion of fossil fuel like nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide are the major ozone pollutants. The nations have instigated regulations to minimize the emission like tax imposed on petrol and diesel cars and eliminating automotive that utilize fossil fuel by 2035. The UK government has sought to promote the renewable industries by installing Electric Vehicle charging points in the country to minimize the use of petrol or diesel cars.

However, since renewable energy depends on solar and wind energy that is variable, the sector was compelled to design batteries that can store energy for a long duration of time before they are recharged. In the electric vehicle industry, the use of lithium-ion batteries has revolutionized the design and level of cars manufactured. The models are dependent on the rate of charging time and the battery capacity that determines the distance the vehicle can travel before the next recharge. 

On the other hand, flow battery seeks to replace lithium-ion batteries due to longer battery lifecycle. Flow batteries use electrolyte liquid and contain two terminals that include the cathode and the anode like the lithium batteries. Additionally, the flow battery is composed of two tanks consisting of the liquid, each bearing different charge. The electric current flows from one tank consisting of the electrolyte to the other container which is interconnected with a membrane between the electrolyte tanks.

As stated above, the flow battery has a longer lifecycle. The reason for more extended durability is due to the flow of electric current from one cathode tank to the anode tank without damaging the membrane. The flow batteries utilize the reduction or oxidation process dubbed as a redox reaction. The flow battery utilizes vanadium that presents a significant challenge for its production since vanadium is costly. Nevertheless, a recent innovation constructed by the researchers in the University of California uses cheaper products in the construction of the flow battery.

The scientists utilized iron sulphate in one end of the electrolyte and anthraquinone disulfonic acid in the other end of the tank. The Iron sulphate is generally available in any lab while AQDS can be produced from carbon compounds. However, since the innovation utilizes carbon, it presents a lesser evil compared to the gases released from fossil fuel. The world is yet to produce a durable and sustainable battery system.