Flow Batteries


Flow Batteries

Over the last decade, more and more renewable energy systems (wind and solar) have been installed, having an ever-increasing percentage of the energy generation market. Although they are still a small percentage of the overall generation market, renewable energy sources are slated to continue to increase in the decade ahead. As a result, electricity generation is now challenged with a different issue, a cost-effective energy storage approach. One way is to deploy flow batteries, a long-duration energy storage system. The use and growth of flow batteries in the renewable market are limited by capital and operating costs and therefore require further research and development to achieve market acceptance.

Flow battery expenditures are expected to reach $1.2 billion US dollars by 2027, a 12% CAGR from 2022. As this technology becomes a more integral part of the renewable power systems over the next five years, we expect to see flow batteries help attain an environmentally sustainable, secure supply of power that can be utilized for long-duration energy storage.

Sandia National Lab

Flow batteries are energy storage devices where electrons are stored in a liquid electrolyte solution and can be reversed to release the electrons when needed. Flow batteries are especially attractive since they can be scaled to existing energy-generating facilities. However, they use various chemical materials as electrolytes that are corrosive and limit the overall durability (life cycle) of the system.

For short-duration energy storage (<4 hours), standard battery technology is used to address grid fluctuations. In the long-duration energy storage market (> 4 hours) where batteries are not viable, flow battery technology could become a preeminent energy storage technology. Flow batteries have been known for many years but, the cost of the flow battery system is a market barrier to full deployment.

To break down the market barrier, more research and development are needed to bring flow battery costs more in line with the overall energy market. The higher costs related to flow battery systems are related to Capex and maintenance of the operating system. However, by adapting or modifying the electrodes used in the cell stack (a key component in flow batteries) to lower-cost material, cost savings can be achieved in tandem with the application of electrically conductive coatings that enhance energy efficiency and protect the electrode material from corrosion. As in any electrochemical system, the components are impacted by the operating voltage and materials used. TreadStone has developed and continues to innovate alternative coating materials that protect the electrode components in flow batteries. These coatings have been repeatedly tested to prove significant cost savings when applied.

IFBF (International Flow Battery Forum)

TreadStone is actively working on a project with the US Department of Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office to further develop and commercialize a coating that has shown promising results. The DuraC coating technology is designed as a low-cost solution and is independent of the electrolyte material used. The application of this coating technology will help flow battery companies keep costs low and maintain heightened energy efficiency throughout the storage process. The demand for efficient metal coatings developed by TreadStone will continue to rise in demand as the use of flow batteries continue to grow and expand over time.