The growing need for grid-scale energy storage has inspired dozens of innovative approaches and hundreds of millions of dollars in venture funding over the past five years. Although various lithium-based technologies get much of the press, two firms have recently announced breakthroughs in vanadium-based flow batteries.
In a flow battery, liquid electrolytes are stored in separate tanks and interact via a cell membrane to accept or release a charge. In theory, they could be superior to lithium-ion batteries for grid-scale applications. But first-generation products suffered from numerous problems, including unexpected failures.
Now, two firms are proclaiming breakthroughs. WA-based UniEnergy Technologies has a vanadium redox flow battery that features improvements originally developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where the company's founders worked until recently. At least $2 million in federal funding went into the PNNL research that led to the technology UET is bringing to market, according to Xconomy.
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