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Physical Sciences Division
Research Highlights

January 2014

Commercialization License To Advance Batteries for Renewable Energy Storage

PNNL's vanadium redox flow battery technology licensed by WattJoule

battery testing
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s redox flow battery technology, which is expected to advance renewable energy storage, has been licensed to Lowell, Mass.-based WattJoule Corporation. Shown here is a 2009 photo of Zimin Nie evaluating the technology.

Results: A Massachusetts startup has signed a license agreement with Battelle to commercialize battery technology that can help store large amounts of renewable energy and improve the reliability of the nation's power grid. The license with Lowell, Mass.-based WattJoule Corporation is expected to advance the commercial use of redox flow battery technology.

"Redox flow battery technology is well-suited for storing intermittent, renewable energy on the electric grid. The technology can help balance supply and demand, prevent disruptions and meet the grid's varying load requirements," said Imre Gyuk, energy storage program manager at DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability, which supported the licensed technology's development at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Why It Matters: "Successful commercialization of DOE-sponsored technology development is vital for creating the grid of the future, and sustaining U.S. leadership in advanced technology," Gyuk added.

Methods: Smoothly integrating intermittent renewable power such as wind and solar onto the electric grid while also maintaining grid stability has been challenging. First developed in the 1970s, the redox flow battery shows promise in meeting this challenge. Until recently, these batteries have been limited by their ability to only work well within certain temperature ranges, their relatively high cost and their low energy density.

But researchers at PNNL, which is managed by Battelle, have made significant progress in improving the performance of redox flow technologies. PNNL developed novel vanadium electrolytes that overcome the limitations of earlier redox flow batteries. The result is a dramatically improved operating temperature range, higher energy density and lower cost for vanadium redox flow batteries.

What's Next? WattJoule plans to combine its own proprietary technology with PNNL's to develop an energy storage platform for a broad variety of energy companies, including those involved in wind and solar power. This is the third and final license granted for PNNL's technologies to all-vanadium, mixed acid redox flow battery developers.

Related Reference: Li L, S Kim, W Wang, M Vijaayakumar, Z Nie, B Chen, J Zhang, G Xia, J Hu, G Graff, J Liu, and Z Yang. 2011. "A Stable Vanadium Redox-Flow Battery with High Energy Density for Large-Scale Energy Storage." Advanced Energy Materials 1(3):392-400.


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