An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Drexel University have reported the development of a new technology for grid-scale energy storage which could provide a fast, efficient method for storing energy on the electrical grid.
This new technology, dubbed the “electrochemical flow capacitor,” stores energy in the same way as a supercapacitor, but is much less costly to scale up for large, industrial applications.
The technology is unique in that it uses a flowable slurry of capacitive particles suspended in a liquid electrolyte carrier fluid. By utilizing this capacitive slurry instead of conventional battery electrolytes, the Drexel team says that its new design can be operated in high power applications for hundreds of thousands of charge-discharge cycles, vital for industrial applications.
Moreover, by incorporating the active material of supercapacitors into a fluid, the technology is capable of overcoming the challenges of capacity and scalability that plague conventional supercapacitors, by adopting the system architecture from redox flow batteries.
The issue of slow response rate is a common problem for most energy storage systems. However, Drexel’s incorporation of the rapid charging and discharging ability of supercapacitors into the architecture is a major advantage in effectively storing the fluctuating energy sources and deliver the energy rapidly on demand. The new technology could thus play an instrumental role in enabling the widespread implementation of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Moreover, this technology could also be used to enhance the efficiency of existing power sources, and improve the stability of the grid.
The team’s ongoing work is focused on developing new slurry compositions based on different carbon nanomaterials and electrolytes, as well as optimizing their flow capacitor design. The team is also designing a small demonstration prototype to illustrate the fundamental operation of the system.
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