All-Iron Flow Batteries: An Exciting New Type of Energy Storage

The development of batteries is the future for efficiently storing renewable energy. As the number of companies investing in renewable energy surges, so does the need for a new type of energy storage. All-iron redox flow batteries introduce the possibility of minimizing energy wastage by being able to successful store renewable energy in an eco-friendly way.

What Are All-Iron Redox Flow Batteries?

Scientists at the University of Southern California claim they have developed a battery that is durable, inexpensive and scalable, based on iron sulfate and anthraquinone disulfonic acid. The battery itself is expected to have a long life-time and be far more eco-friendly than those currently on the market.

Diagram of all-iron batteries

All-iron chemistry presents a groundbreaking opportunity for stationary energy storage as the batteries are very simple to make, cost effective, abundant and safe. All-iron batteries store energy by reducing iron (II) to metallic iron at the anode and oxidizing iron (II) to iron (III) at the cathode. The total cell is highly stable, efficient, non-toxic, and safe. (Nicolas Yenson, Peter B Allen).

What Do The Scientists Have To Say About These Batteries?

Researchers claim, “while the two compounds are well known individually, it’s the first time they’ve been combined to prove potential for large scale energy storage.” This is a huge leap for the energy storage industry as the batteries are far more efficient and eco-friendly.

They take waste steel, which is in vast supply, and transform it into an energy storage product, which makes it a win-win for scientific development and the environment.

Researchers also believe the device has demonstrated coulombic efficiency, which is the ration of the total charge extracted from the battery, to the total charge put into the battery over a full cycle. The USC group says that “the coulombic efficiency during electrodeposition of iron was found to improve with increasing pH at all values of current density and we have found that ascorbic acid has an important role in determining the coulombic efficiency.” The iron-flow batteries also improve with each cycle and their coulombic efficiency was measured at 97.9%, largely due to functional electrolyte additives, pH and elevated temperature. Researchers state that this level of efficiency is one of the highest recorded for an iron electrode.

The Financial Scaleability of The Batteries

Scientists estimate they can create a battery based on iron sulfate and anthraquinone disulfonic acid that would cost $66/kWh at a commercial scale, assuming iron sulfate costs around $0.10 per kilo and AQDS $3. The researchers at USC state: “If manufactured at scale, electricity would cost less than half the energy derived from the redox batteries that use vanadium, which is more expensive and toxic.” The reduced toxicity of these batteries is important when looking at the future of energy storage. Cleaner batteries will massively benefit the environment and increase sustainability of corporate companies.

What Does This Mean For The Future of Energy Storage?

With the development of renewable energy, the integration of a battery, like the all-iron redox model, would be a game-changer to the industry. It is by far the most eco-friendly form of battery storage out there, and it can be run for a fraction of the cost compared to current models available. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the battery is that it takes a waste product, steel, and turns it into something beneficial for companies and the environment. While it’s an emerging technology that’s not readily available on the market just yet, it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Want To Learn More About Energy Storage Options For Your Company?

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