A new unique design of flow batteries, which combines the latest mechanical technologies with novel chemistry, is offered by the startup EnerVault, promising longer hours of energy storage at a much lower cost.
The first demonstration will be installed and connected to a solar grid in California later this year. According to Bret Adams, EnerVault’s director of business development, until then, the company will be testing the performance of the technology for various uses.
EnerVault aimed to develop an innovative alternative to batteries used in the grid, which can store energy for many hours. Hence, they decided to focus on flow batteries, since these are the most suitable energy storage technologies for renewable energy sources.
Flow batteries are safe, because unlike conventional grid-scale batteries, these do not cause a thermal runaway, which often results in fires.
Although experts have already demonstrated the potential of flow batteries to be integrated in the global grid, the cost still presents a huge limitation.
Since its establishment in 2008, EnerVault has developed a new electrolyte pumping system to boost efficiency of the charge and discharge cycles. They also replaced the costly vanadium with the much cheaper iron chromium materials.
The company is still on the look for the best location for their multi-hour storage system. The potential of their improved flow battery technology is very high, promising increase in revenue of wind and solar plant farms.
Unfortunately, there is still a very low demand for this sort of technologies. The main reason for this is the fact that the competition from natural gas plants is severe. Nevertheless, Adams is certain that the low cost of the materials, and the high efficiency will provide enough to compete with the giants on the market right now.