“Historically, flow batteries have not been competitive because of the low energy density,” said Cushman at Purdue. “For example, conventional flow batteries have an energy density of about 20Wh/kg [while] a lithium-ion battery runs on 250 Wh/kg. Our flow battery has the potential to run between three and five times that amount.”
THe difference for the Purdue technology is that it does not need a membrane or separator that can get clogged. The single-fluid technology oxidizes the anode to produce electrons, and through a reduction at the cathode, it generates the current of energy to power vehicles. The oxidant is a macro-molecule that lives in the electrolyte, but is reduced only at the cathode. The spent battery fluids or electrolytes can be collected and taken to a solar farm, wind turbine installation or hydroelectric plant for recharging.
“We are at the point now where we can generate a lot of power. More power than you would ever guess could come out of a battery like this,” said Cushman. “It is the full circle of energy with very little waste. IFBattery’s components are safe enough to be stored in a family home, are stable enough to meet major production and distribution requirements and are cost-effective.”
IFBattery licensed part of the technology through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and has developed patents of its own.