By Climate Progress:
A California firm called Imergy believes it’s hit on a new chemistry that can drastically reduce the costs of certain advanced battery systems.
In this case, it’s what’s called a “flow” battery. Most batteries create an electric current by shuttling ions between two positively and negatively charged solids. Flow batteries use two positively and negatively charged fluids, and create the ion reaction by pumping the fluids across either side of a membrane. This comes with several advantages: they’re long-lasting, they can be built to different scales and uses, and the tanks can be easily swapped to recharge the battery…..The downside of flow batteries is that their liquids currently rely on a solution of a mined material called vanadium — and the purer forms of vanadium that flow batteries require are also used by the steel industry. So the competition and constrained supply make vanadium expensive and hard to come by, which drives up the costs of the batteries. What Imergy did, according to reports by GreenTech Media, was come up with a chemistry that requires less pure forms of vanadium that it can purchase for much lower costs….instead of the 99.5 percent purity or higher most flow batteries need for their vanadium, Imergy can get by with 98.5 percent. That means Imergy doesn’t need to compete in the same markets as the steel industry, and instead can buy vanadium that’s been recycled from mining slag, oil field sludge, and other sources that come with a bit more contaminants.
Read more at Has Battery Technology Just Taken A Huge Leap Forward?.