by Carlo Brovero
StorEn* is reporting favorable initial validation results of its vanadium flow battery (VFB) prototype during testing at Environment Park, a leading cleantech scientific and technology accelerator in Turin, Italy.
The testing has been focused on innovative, patent-pending solutions from StorEn Technologies that build on vanadium battery durability and sturdiness by enhancing the electrical efficiency of the stack, the energy density of the electrolyte, and the module.
Why StorEn’s Vanadium Flow Battery is an Effective Energy Storage Solution
StorEn’s design delivers a better flow of electrolyte through the stack compared to other VFBs by employing its MULTIGRIDS™ fluid dynamic and RESAFE™ electrolyte control system.
The benefits of StorEn’s vanadium flow battery design include the following:
- Increased power density of the stack — that is, the amount of power the stack will deliver in relation to its size.
- Ability to reduce the size of the stack, since the power density is increased.
- And with smaller plates able to have performance parity with larger sizes, fewer materials such as membranes are required, lowering materials’ cost by as much as 50%.
Importantly, a better fluid dynamic allows the battery to operate effectively at lower pressure, increasing round-trip efficiency.
The RESAFE™ system eliminates leaks to deliver a virtually maintenance-free battery, and removes the time and cost associated with on-site inspections and scheduled maintenance.
Positive Prototype Performance During Validation
Initial test results show increased power density, with the StorEn team confident the design will soon reach targeted levels. Angelo D’Anzi, StorEn’s CTO, had this response to the first round of third-party testing of the company’s vanadium flow battery prototype:
“We are happy to record some exciting performance after only a few days of testing. Our new stack embedding our proprietary technology MULTIGRIDS™ delivered exceptional fluid dynamic results and seems to be working extremely well. It delivers superior power density at lower pressures.”
The Power of Partnership Accelerating StorEn’s Development
StorEn has entered into partnerships to leverage expertise in key areas needed to accelerate global sales and distribution of StorEn’s vanadium batteries.
Multicom Resources and Freedom Energy — Partners for Manufacturing and Distribution
- November 2017 marked the start of StorEn’s agreement with Australia-based vanadium mine developer Multicom Resources Pty Ltd. This agreement establishes a vertically integrated supply chain for low-cost manufacturing, sale, and distribution of StorEn proprietary vanadium flow batteries.
- The Multicom project is one of the largest vanadium deposits globally. With a well-defined drilled resource, the project is rapidly progressing through key milestones related to feasibility studies and environmental and permitting approvals.
- Freedom Energy, a subsidiary of mine developer Multicom, is making active progress in discussions with local government officials in Queensland about building an assembly and distribution factory for StorEn batteries in North Queensland.
- Vanadium Pentoxide will be trucked from the mine to the distribution facility and converted to an electrolyte. Flat packed StorEn units will be shipped to the factory for assembly, and then distributed domestically within Australia and exported to the Asia Pacific region. By 2025, 70,000 units per year are expected to be assembled and distributed from Queensland.
- In addition to the North Queensland facility, Freedom Energy is moving forward in discussions with partners in mainland Asia who will act as agents to establish a strong sales pipeline for StorEn batteries in the region. These agents will also investigate secondary sites on the mainland for satellite distribution centers.
What Partnerships Mean for StorEn
The StorEn research and development team brings a 20-year shared history of working together. The team has demonstrated success in the battery industry, with patents for fuel cells, cogeneration, and energy storage.
When the Queensland mine becomes operational, the partnership with mine developer Multicom will deliver an exclusive source of vanadium for the next 10 years under controlled pricing. Low-cost, stable pricing is expected to maintain the competitive advantage of StorEn batteries. Both companies have the option to acquire an equity interest in the other, making future work together mutually beneficial.
StorEn’s technical expertise with vanadium flow batteries united with the world-class vanadium deposit being developed by Multicom creates a strong foundation for success. In addition, estimated demand in the American market, coupled with the sales pipeline being established by Freedom Energy in the Asia Pacific region, is setting the company up for significant success.
D’Anzi is optimistic about the future of StorEn: “We are confident that our proprietary technology, and the availability of vanadium at a capped price following the vertical-integration agreement signed with Multicom Resources, will allow us to reach our target price below $250/kWh once at volume manufacturing.”
The Future Looks Bright for Flow Batteries
A recent report from ResearchandMarkets.com estimates the opportunity for flow batteries to reach $230.2 million in 2018 and $946.3 million within 5 years, delivering a 32.7% CAGR. This anticipated market growth reflects investment in renewable energy, the advantages of flow batteries, and utility demand for solutions. According to the authors:
“With electric infrastructure and the growing need for higher energy capacity and production, modernization of grid system has become essential worldwide. Also, increasing penetration of renewable energy across the grid has, in turn, increased the need for efficient, flexible, and long operating life energy storage solutions. A flow battery, with all its attractive features, has become the most preferred energy storage technology for utility-based storage, as large-sale utilities require technologies that can cost-effectively store renewable energy for future grid-use at any location.”
With vanadium flow batteries the most mature and most widely adopted option, it’s not surprising that vanadium currently holds a larger share of the flow battery market than other options such as zinc-bromide. Worldwide, more than 45 vanadium flow batteries have been installed for a variety of applications, including grid, commercial, military, microgrid, telecommunications, and EV charging stations.
Penetration of flow batteries is currently highest in North America, but highest growth is expected in the APAC region in the next 5 years. The APAC region is estimated to dominate the future market due to an increase in projects for industrial, commercial, utility, and residential applications.
Although not growing as rapidly as the APAC region, North America, led by the United States, represents a strong opportunity for vanadium flow batteries to support energy storage, according to a recent news summary on SeekingAlpha.com, which noted:
- Energy storage in the United States was up +46% in the third quarter of 2017, the most recent data available. Three states — Massachusetts, California, and Hawaii — have targeted 2045 as the year to be 100% powered by renewable energy.
- The author points toward New Energy Outlook data from Bloomberg to explain the storage expansion: “Renewable energy sources are set to represent almost three quarters of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generating technology until 2040, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including electric vehicle batteries, in balancing supply and demand.”
- As the shift toward renewables increases demand for storage solutions, vanadium batteries, with proven reliability and longer life, may begin to outpace lithium as early as 2018 in the utility sector.
Dr. Imre Gyuk, energy storage program manager for the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability has said, “Cost-effective, reliable, and longer-lived energy storage is necessary to truly modernize the grid.” Opportunities to support and invest in new technologies is key to this modernization. If you’re interested in playing a part in this shift, you can invest in StorEnTech via its equity crowdfunding campaign.
*This post was supported by StorEnTech
Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by StorEn Technologies. While we at CleanTechnica do like to promote companies and technologies we think are helping the world and have a bright future, we do not provide investment advice — use your own judgement or consult an investment professional if you are thinking about putting investment into a company or project.
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