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Highly efficient grid-scale electricity storage at fifth of cost – researchers modify hybrid flow battery electrodes with nanomaterials

Researchers in WMG at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with Imperial College London, have found a way to enhance hybrid flow batteries and their commercial use. The new approach can store electricity in these batteries for very long durations for about a fifth the price of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions.

The researchers enhanced three hybrid flow cells using nitrogen doped graphene (exposed to nitrogen plasma) in a binder-free electrophoresis technique Highly efficient grid-scale electricity storage at fifth of cost – researchers modify hybrid flow battery electrodes with nanomaterials(EPD)

Wind and solar power are increasingly popular sources for renewable energy. Unfortunately, intermittency issues keep them from connecting widely to the National grid. One potential solution to this problem involves in the deployment of long-duration battery technology, such as the redox flow battery. Despite its great promise the current costs of this system are a key determining factor to real-world adoption. An affordable grid battery should cost £75/kWh, according to the US Department of Energy. Lithium-ion batteries, which lead the charge for grid storage, cost about £130/kWh.

Now WMG researchers have found a way of enhancing hybrid flow batteries or regenerative fuel cell (RFC) technology that could store electricity for very long durations for about one-fifth the cost of current storage technologies, with flexibility in siting and with minimal environmental impact. The technology combines carbon-based electrodes with economically sourced electrolytes, (manganese or sulphur, which are abundant chemicals in the planet) by means of a simple and yet highly effective electrophoretic deposition of nano-carbon additives (nitrogen-doped graphene) that enhance the electrode durability and performance significantly in highly acidic or alkaline environments.

The researchers have published their findings in a paper entitled, Hybrid Redox Flow Cells with Enhanced Electrochemical Performance via Binderless and Electrophoretically Deposited Nitrogen-Doped Graphene on Carbon Paper Electrodes’ in the December 2020 edition of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Dr Barun Chakrabarti, a Research Fellow in WMG at the University of Warwick and one of the lead authors on the paper said:

“This EPD technique is not only simple but also improves the efficiencies of three different economical hybrid flow batteries thereby increasing their potential for widespread commercial adoption for grid-scale energy storage.”

The hybrid flow battery’s total chemical cost is about 1/30th the cost of competing batteries, such as lithium-ion systems. Scaled-up technologies may be used to store electricity from wind or solar power, for multiple days to entire seasons, for about £15 to £20 per kilowatt hour. These batteries are also extremely useful for grid-scale load levelling applications as their design is very flexible due to their unique feature of sizing their power independently of their energy.

The energy density of a hybrid flow battery, especially the polysulphide/air system (S-Air), is 500 times higher than pumped hydroelectric storage. It is also so much more compact and can be placed near any renewable generation.

ENDS

22 JANUARY 2021

Notes for Editors

High-res image available at:
https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/january_2021/barun_release_image.jpg
Caption: A Binder-Free Horizontal Electrophoretic Deposition (EPD) Process Is Used to Activate Commercial Carbon Paper Electrodes Using Nitrogen-Doped Graphene
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

Full list of researchers: Co-investigators with Dr Chakrabarti at the WMG Energy Innovation Centre at the University of Warwick are: Evangelos Kalamaras (Project Engineer, Battery Testing) and Professor Jon Low (Associate Professor, Electrochemical Engineering). Co-investigators from Imperial include Anthony Kucernak and Nigel Brandon.

The full paper with all author details can be found here: Hybrid Redox Flow Cells with Enhanced Electrochemical Performance via Binderless and Electrophoretically Deposited Nitrogen-Doped Graphene on Carbon Paper Electrodes

Background history to this area of research
Development of the EPD technology began in 2013, when Professor Low joined WMG as an Assistant Professor and researched industrial Lithium-ion battery manufacturing processes. EPD involves the migration of electrically charged particles through a fluid that is under the influence of an electric field generated by applying the right potential.

Although EPD is an industrially adopted process such as for depositing industrial coatings onto conductive substrates, its mass-scale adoption for energy storage applications has only recently seen some success. Supported by EPSRC’s First Grant (EP/P026818/1, https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=EP%2FP026818%2F1) and Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund on battery and supercapacitor manufacturing (EP/R023034/1, https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=EP%2FR023034%2F1), Low’s research team have developed EPD for preparing lithium-ion battery electrodes that meet industrial standards for thickness and mass loadings and published their finding in ‘Batteries and Supercaps’ (https://chemistry-europe.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/batt.201900017). They have also produced carbon electrodes with nanomaterials for improving the practical performance of vanadium-based flow batteries using deep eutectic solvent electrolytes, and published their finding in ‘Batteries’ (https://www.mdpi.com/2313-0105/6/3/38).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Fri 22 Jan 2021, 16:39 | Tags: Energy Systems Research Battery Scale-Up

The WMG Battery School is back, and it’s virtual!

Battery SchoolThe WMG Battery School, supported by the APC and HVM Catapult, will take place, from 14th to 18th September, for key industry personnel.

WMG battery experts will facilitate a mix of live lectures and pre-recorded practical hands-on-sessions, virtually, over the five days.

The lectures will cover manufacturing Lithium batteries, module and pack design, electrical testing and ageing, battery management systems, safety and abuse testing, forensic characterisation and battery end of life. 

Meanwhile the practical, pre-recorded in the Energy Innovation Centre, lab sessions, will focus on microscopy; electrode mixing and coating; pouch and cylindrical cell fabrication; cell and module testing; and forensics.

Find the full lecture and demo programme and register your interest here or by email: WMGShortCourses@warwick.ac.uk


Charging ahead at Battery School

Energy Innovation CentreWMG is running a special three-day Battery School at its Energy Innovation Centre from 17-19 February 2020 for industry personnel.

WMG battery experts will facilitate a mix of lectures and practical hands-on-sessions, with the intention of inspiring the next generation of engineers into battery related careers, crucial for the UK’s electrification sector.

The lectures will cover areas including manufacturing Lithium batteries, module and pack design, electrical testing and ageing, battery management systems, safety and abuse testing, forensic characterisation and battery end of life.

Meanwhile the practical lab sessions will focus on microscopy; electrode mixing and coating; pouch and cylindrical cell fabrication; cell and module testing; and forensics.

Find out more and book your place here.


Used electric vehicle batteries could be used for rickshaws in Bangladesh

Used EV batteries could be used to power rickshaws in Bangladesh, as researchers from WMG, University of Warwick, seek to find out how they can be repurposed for the rickshaws and lower peoples’ carbon footprint.

Motorised rickshaws, also known as easy-bikes, have gained popularity in Bangladesh due to their cost-effectiveness with one million of them all over the country.

However, the easy-bike currently uses a lead-acid battery for power, which has a lifetime of 6-12 months and therefore increases the operating cost as well as the carbon footprint.

In order to reduce the carbon footprint, researchers at WMG are exploring the possibility of repurposing used EV Li-ion batteries thanks to a £25,000 grant from Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), an award from the UKRI aimed to deliver scalable solutions to issues faced by low and middle-income countries.

Currently, Li-ion batteries retire from EVs after reaching 70-80% of their state of health (SoH). At 70% SoH, the lithium-ion battery still have 3 times higher energy density than a new lead-acid battery, and potentially can have a lifetime of 3-5 years in easy-bike application.

The researchers hope to repurpose the batteries to improve the energy storage life from 6-12 months to 3-5 years, which in turn will reduce the number of batteries being recycled and improve the ecosystem.

The new application of Li-ion batteries will be better environmentally without an additional cost in transport. As easy-bike replaces manual driving, the quality of life will improve significantly and bring a socio-economic change to a large community in Bangladesh. Furthermore, this development could reduce the consumption of grid-connected electricity which could be used to develop industries and infrastructure.

In fact, there are currently one million rickshaw pullers in Bangladesh who earn $4.8 billion every year. The new development in easy-bikes will directly improve their economic status. A few million people involved in vehicle support such as mechanics and manufacturing industries will also be benefited.

This project eventually could lead to mass production of second-life Li-ion batteries in Bangladesh, in conjunction with UK automobile industries, which will create job opportunities for thousands of people.

Dr Mohammad Al-AminDr Mohammad Al-Amin from WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“To prevent climate change, all cars in the future will need to be electric. However, the batteries in EVs once they have reached their end of life, for car purposes, is something that can be explored more, as there is still energy left in them to be used.”

“If we can re-purpose them to be used for easy-bikes in Bangladesh it will help lower their carbon footprint and provide the country with a new economy. Thousands of jobs opportunities could be created both in Bangladesh and the UK.”

 ENDS

13 NOVEMBER 2019

NOTES TO EDITORS

High-res images available at: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/october2019/mohammad_photograph.jpg

 

About GCRF - https://www.ukri.org/research/global-challenges-research-fund/ 

 

UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 


‘Nextrode’ project to revolutionise the manufacturing of battery electrodes

· Nextrode project could revolutionise the way electrodes for Li-ion EV batteries are manufactured

· Smart high performance electrodes could enable EVs to travel further and be more durable

· WMG at the University of Warwick will research and model new and existing manufacturing processes to unlock full potential of electrochemical materials in cells

The Faraday Institution funded “Nextrode” project, involving WMG at the University of Warwick, will research ways to make electrodes for Li-ion batteries which unlock the electrochemical potential of their ingredients.

WMG, at the University of Warwick, is one of six university partners in the Nextrode project, which is led by the University of Oxford, alongside six industry partners – including the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) who will be researching how to make electrodes for Li-ion Electric Vehicle batteries more efficiently.

Today’s Li-ion batteries are made using a 'slurry casting' process, whereby the active materials are mixed in a wet slurry and coated onto thin foils of aluminium or copper, then dried and compressed. This process is highly effective for mass production, but is developed empirically through trial and error, at great cost to the manufacturer.

In this project, WMG will gain greater depth of knowledge in that process with a view to being able to predictively model and optimise it, so that future electrodes can be cheaper, store more energy, and get to market faster. To do this, WMG will use their state-of-the-art “battery scale up” facility, as well as taking data from the UKBIC when it opens next year.

Furthermore, slurry cast electrodes limit the performance of the battery as the active electrochemical materials are uniformly distributed throughout the electrode structure. Research has shown that arranging the materials in a structured way can dramatically improve battery performance, but at present there is no mass-manufacturing route to do so. This project will investigate new manufacturing methods to create structured electrodes in a cost effective way at high manufacturing volumes.

Professor David GreenwoodProfessor David Greenwood from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“Battery manufacturing is a critical industry for the UK to grow. It is highly competitive, and to win, we will need excellence in both science and manufacturing. The Nextrode project brings these two elements together to make future Li-ion batteries for Electric vehicles more energy efficient and affordable. Our unique research facilities are key to acquiring the knowledge required to deliver a step change in industrial capability."

Professor Patrick Grant from Oxford University who will lead project comments:

“Nextrode aims to strengthen the scientific understanding of existing electrode manufacturing so we can make it more flexible and extract further performance gains, but we will also develop a new generation of manufacturing approaches for ‘smart” electrodes where the different electrode materials are arranged with greater precision and provide even greater performance benefits. We anticipate these benefits could be realised for almost any type of battery chemistry”.

This project is just one of five that the Faraday Institution has announced today, 4th September. In total, it will award up to £55 million to five UK-based consortia to conduct application-inspired research over the next four years to make step changes in the understanding of battery chemistries, systems and manufacturing methods.

Business Minister, Nadhim Zahawi comments:

“Today’s funding backs scientists and innovators to collaborate on projects that will deliver a brighter, cleaner future on our roads. We are committed to ensuring that the UK is at the forefront of developing the battery technologies needed to achieve our aim for all cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040.”

Neil Morris, CEO of the Faraday Institution comments:

“It is imperative that the UK takes a lead role in increasing the efficiency of energy storage as the world moves towards low carbon economies and seeks to switch to clean methods of energy production. Improvements in EV cost, range and longevity are desired by existing EV owners and those consumers looking to purchase an EV as their next or subsequent car. Our research to improve this web of battery performance indicators (which are different for different sectors) are being researched, with a sense of urgency, by the Faraday Institution and its academic and industrial partners. Our fundamental research programmes are putting the UK at the forefront of this disruptive societal, environmental and economic change.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, comments:

“Bringing together experts across industry and academia, this exciting research will grow our understanding of battery chemistries and manufacturing methods, with the potential to significantly improve the UK’s ability to develop the high-performance electric vehicles of the future.

ENDS

4 SEPTEMBER 2019

Notes to Editors

Full list of Institutions include:

University of Birmingham

University College London

University of Oxford

University of Sheffield

University of Southampton

University of Warwick

For further information about the Faraday Institution visit: https://faraday.ac.uk/

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Wed 04 Sep 2019, 11:08 | Tags: Partnerships Research Battery Scale-Up

Charging ahead at Battery School

PhD students, and future battery engineers, from leading universities across the UK joined us for a special week-long Battery School at our Energy Innovation Centre, for the Faraday Institution, recently.

eicIn our role as the Electrical Energy Storage APC Spoke, our battery experts facilitated a mix of lectures and practical sessions covering electrochemistry, applications, future technologies, manufacturing, safety, testing, forensics and battery end of life.

Fran Long, Education and Training Co-ordinator, at The Faraday Institution, said: “The WMG Battery School, at the University of Warwick, gave our PhD students a wonderful week of detailed theory and practice with an abundance of high quality lectures and ‘hands-on’ lab sessions.

“We would like to thank all of the WMG staff involved in making this such a valuable experience for the students. Encouraging the next generation of engineers into battery related careers, is extremely important for the UK’s electrification sector.”

The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage science and technology, supporting research, training, and analysis. It brings together scientists and industry partners on research projects to reduce battery cost, weight, and volume; to improve performance and reliability; and to develop whole-life strategies from mining to recycling to second use.

The Battery School is part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, along with the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (of which WMG was part of the winning consortium).

Find out more about our Energy Innovation Centre here.