JCESR Scientists Use Gravity to Power Advanced Battery

JCESR Scientists have developed a flow battery that harnesses gravity--making the whole thing cheaper and more efficient

Sometimes it pays to get simpler.

Scientists at the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) are working to build the next generation of batteries for our increasingly electrified world.  They have used incredibly advanced modeling techniques. They have computer simulations sifting through thousands of potential compounds.  And they have incredible labs, like the Electrochemical Discovery Laboratory,  where they can carefully control impurities like water.

But this time, innovation has come from simplifying the battery and just letting gravity take over.

JCESR scientists at MIT have put together a concept flow battery that eliminates the need for complex pump and valve systems by taking advantage of flow induced by gravity. Just like an hourglass, the battery controls flow through how tilted it is and the size of the opening.

What is a flow battery?

“A flow battery is a type of rechargeable battery where rechargeability is provided by two chemical components dissolved in liquids contained within the system and most commonly separated by a membrane. This technology is akin to both a fuel cell and a battery – where liquid energy sources are tapped to create electricity and are able to be recharged within the same system.” —Energy Storage Association

Flow batteries are incredibly attractive for storing energy on the electric grid because they are so scalable.  Their size–and therefore storage capacity–can be easily increased by adding more liquid. This proof-of-concept technology would drastically reduce both up-front costs and the ongoing maintenance.  

Learn more about this exciting development  here.

By Alex Foucault | May 26, 2016