As the digital revolution marches on, producing renewable energy is no longer a problem - it's the storage and distribution that are posing a challenge. Storing energy locally in batteries seems to be the easiest way to even out fluctuating production capacity levels. Quickly catching up with established lithium ion batteries are innovative redox flow batteries, which store electrical energy in liquid chemical compounds. As the output and energy content of redox flow batteries are directly related to the size of the membrane and tank, both parameters can be scaled independently. Experts agree that this almost unlimited scalability makes these cutting-edge batteries the perfect network storage solution for the energy revolution - for example, by storing solar energy so it can be used at night.
According to Professor Thomas Leibfried from the Institute of Electric Energy Systems and High-Voltage Engineering at KIT, the reason the technology hasn’t yet achieved a breakthrough is that it is difficult to use efficiently. While funding has been plowed into developing lithium ion batteries for decades, redox flow batteries are just starting out and therefore still need to be structurally redesigned for each application scenario. To change this, Professor Leibfried’s research group has developed a prototype automatic battery management solution that is currently being tested in a vanadium flow battery at KIT. The solution is designed to ensure the redox flow battery operates at maximum efficiency during both the charge and discharge cycle - irrespective of the area of application. Once the prototype - currently on show at this year’s HANNOVER MESSE – has proven itself, the battery management solution is set to be miniaturized and placed onto a microchip in the market-ready version.