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A solution for scalable-flow batteries
Flow batteries, in which the redox active components are held in tanks separate from the active part of the cell, offer a scalable route for storing large quantities of energy. A challenge for their large-scale development is to avoid formulations that depend on toxic transition metal ions. Lin et al. show that quinones can be dissolved in alkaline solutions and coupled with ferricyanides to make a flow cell battery (see the Perspective by Perry). This gives scope for developing flow cells with very low costs, high efficiencies at practical power densities, simplicity of operation, and inherent safety.
Storage of photovoltaic and wind electricity in batteries could solve the mismatch problem between the intermittent supply of these renewable resources and variable demand. Flow batteries permit more economical long-duration discharge than solid-electrode batteries by using liquid electrolytes stored outside of the battery. We report an alkaline flow battery based on redox-active organic molecules that are composed entirely of Earth-abundant elements and are nontoxic, nonflammable, and safe for use in residential and commercial environments. The battery operates efficiently with high power density near room temperature. These results demonstrate the stability and performance of redox-active organic molecules in alkaline flow batteries, potentially enabling cost-effective stationary storage of renewable energy.