Researchers at Harvard University have developed a battery that stores energy in liquid solutions. Dubbed the “flow battery,” the solution modifies the molecules in electrolytes, ferrocene and viologen to make them stable, water-soluble, and stop them degrading over time. The battery only loses one per cent capacity every 1,000 charging cycles and is estimated to last a decade–rather impressive compared to Lithium-ion types, which typically last a few months.
“Because we were able to dissolve the electrolytes in water, this is a long-lasting battery that you could put in your basement,” said Roy Gordon, professor of chemistry and materials science at Harvard University who co-led the research. “If spilt on the floor, it wouldn’t eat the concrete and since the medium is noncorrosive, you can use cheaper materials to build the components of the batteries, like the tanks and pumps.”
Energy storage is on the rise, and batteries can be worth the investment when it comes to natural disasters. ClearWorld’s battery allows for up to 80 hours of off-grid energy storage, so a power outage won’t leave residents in the dark. Harvard’s ultimate goal is to build the flow battery to be capable of storing energy for less than $100 per kilowatt-hour. If achieved, the goal will put stored renewable energy on par with traditional power plants.