Lithium is the #1 Choice for Most Energy Storage Systems - Could Vanadium Be a Better Alternative?
By Gita Karunakaran, Benzinga
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Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSL) is a major player today in the battery market for both electric vehicles and stationary battery applications. Its lithium batteries have a solid presence in grid-scale battery storage where energy storage of up to 4 hours is possible.
Lithium-ion batteries have also become the battery of choice in small electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones and in electric vehicles recently, due to their ability to pack a lot of energy storage into a small, light battery. But Lithium batteries are known to have a very short operating life, and also have other issues such as rapid heat generation due to which they may not be the first choice for large utility-scale commercial purposes.
Among the latest technologies to emerge in the energy storage field is the vanadium redox battery, also known as the vanadium-flow battery, which reportedly has several advantages over lithium batteries, including that they are non-flammable, reusable over long periods of time, discharge 100% of the stored energy and can last for over 20 years without degradation.
The global focus is shifting towards renewable energy sources and the need for alternate solutions in the energy storage arena is crucial.
South Carolina-based StorEnTechnologies hopes to answer the call through its potentially disruptive vanadium flow battery technology. The company says that its products are long-lasting, 100% recyclable, safe, and offer an affordable energy storage option, at what it says is the lowest cost per cycle in the world – up to eight times lower than lithium-ion batteries.
The Advantages Of Vanadium Over Lithium
Although vanadium was initially discovered back in 1801, researchers have only recently started to realize the potential it could have in the manufacture of batteries, due to its tremendous stability and endurance.
Here’s a look at how Vanadium compares with Lithium.
Vanadium-based batteries have a long lifespan of over 20 years without capacity loss, whereas lithium batteries degrade rapidly. Unlike lithium batteries which last for just 300 to 500 charge/discharge cycles before they need to be replaced, vanadium redox flow batteries can last for well over 20,000 charge/discharge cycles. This makes them highly suitable for large-scale storage from renewable sources such as solar and wind when connected to an electricity grid.
Vanadium is non-flammable and can operate at any temperature. Lithium is known to be flammable and can catch fire at relatively lower temperatures.
Vanadium-based batteries can increase discharge cycling by simply increasing the size of scaling the electrolyte storage tanks. This is because vanadium batteries store energy in tanks while lithium batteries store energy in cells. As a result, a tank expansion is all that is needed to increase energy storage in vanadium batteries. Lithium battery users would need additional batteries to increase energy storage.
The cost of ownership for vanadium flow batteries is significantly lower. Lithium batteries will degrade if not managed well and will require replacements much faster than vanadium flow batteries.
Storing energy for the future is increasingly becoming important as power generation evolves. With the anxiety around lithium supply, and the scalability issues associated with lithium batteries, flow batteries could potentially be the future of energy storage.
According to StorEn, the vanadium flow battery industry is still evolving, and only just being commercialized. It has not yet been able to tap into the eventual scale benefits that would result in cost reductions. But once the industry begins to mature, there could be opportunities for investors to make sizable gains by choosing companies poised to succeed in the vanadium flow battery space.
StorEn has recently launched an equity crowdfunding offering through StartEngine Primary, LLC, and has raised over $600,000 so far.
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The above article was originally published on Benzinga here.
StorEn Technologies, Inc. develops and sells energy storage solutions based on our proprietary vanadium flow battery technology.
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