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17 October 2022 Back to news

Longer lasting renewable battery power on the horizon after UQ industry collaboration

Households and industry alike could soon benefit from cheaper, longer-lasting renewable power thanks to research The University of Queensland is doing to improve zinc-bromine flow batteries.

UQ researchers at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and The School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences (SCMB) are working with battery firm Redflow to develop a deeper understanding of the company’s ground-breaking Zinc Bromine Module (ZBM), a battery that is already considered one of the most environmentally friendly energy storage solutions in the world.

AIBN researcher, Dr Bin Luo, said by closely examining the components of Redflow’s ZBM battery, the team would be able to help slow degradation and greatly extend the life cycle of the technology.

“Redflow’s Zinc Bromine flow battery is already a highly promising technology which has many advantages placing it at the forefront of renewable energy solutions,” Dr Luo said.

“But after thousands of charge and discharge cycles, the electrochemically active components of the battery degrade due to many reasons.

“A better understanding of what leads to this degradation will help us select superior component formulations, and improved operating conditions.”

The collaboration, titled ‘Extending Flow Battery Operation’, is operating within the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Hub for Safe and Reliable Energy Storage and Conversion Technologies administered by Deakin University.

The Safe and Reliable Energy (SafeREnergy) hub itself was created with $5 million funding from the ARC and is a collaboration between six Australian universities and ten industry partners.

SCMB Professor Ian Gentle is UQ’s node leader in the hub, and the AIBN’s Professor Lianzhou Wang is a chief investigator.

“We are excited to partner with Redflow and combine our expertise and strengths to solve what is ultimately a practical industrial problem,” Dr Luo said.

“Flow batteries have emerged as prime candidates in the development of large-scale grid-connected energy storage systems because they are more efficient, have a longer life cycle, and offer a lower cost for applications that require high energy-to-power ratios.

“This project will enhance market competitiveness of Redflow’s products and extend their application in both residential energy storage and industries that require long-duration energy output.”

Redflow chief technical officer Steven Hickey said the four-year project would employ the University’s extensive facilities to perform advanced electrolyte analysis, ultimately extending ZBM flow battery operation.

“In order to be commercially competitive, we must lower the Levelized Cost of Storage (LCOS) and extending the operation of flow batteries is a key requirement for renewable energy strategy, Mr Hickey said.

Led by Alfred Deakin Professor Ying (Ian) Chen, the SafeREnergy Research Hub aims to address safety and reliability issues, and environmental impact of current energy storage and conversion technologies.

The research Hub was established to deliver a new generation of technologies for storage from small-scale portable devices to large scale industrial applications, using recycled and natural materials, and eliminating the serious fire risk in current technologies.

Outcomes include innovative integrated energy conversion and storage technologies and new energy materials and devices designed for different scale applications, benefiting the Australian economy, and potentially transforming the energy industry landscape.




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