Company officials at Lockheed Martin have revealed that they are now aiming to release a new flow battery made of nothing but (or nearly so) inexpensive, nontoxic materials — one intended to boost usage of renewable energy, among other things — in “little more than a year.”
The senior vice president for sustainability and ethics at Lockheed Martin, Leo Mackay, noted to reporters at the company’s Global Vision Center in Virginia that: “You open up a chance not only to make renewables more marketable and more useful, you might even change the structure of at least a portion of the utility market.”
Notably, specific costs and timelines weren’t announced, so who knows exactly what to make of it, although, as noted earlier, the company’s vice president for energy initiatives Frank Armijo stated that the plan was to launch in not much more than a year.
For those unfamiliar with the technology, flow batteries are energy storage devices based around the use of water-soluble electrolytes (or equivalents); as such they can usually more easily handle the scaling-up process, among other things.
Reuters provides more:
“A report in the utility industry press early this year said Lockheed hoped to introduce a flow battery by the end of 2018, but there were no details on what kind of materials it would be made of…Armijo said the company is developing a so-called flow battery using proprietary electrolyte chemistry that combines low cost earth metals with chemicals that are also inexpensive.
“Armijo said flow batteries can last 6 to 10 hours compared to about 2 to 4 hours for lithium ion batteries. In addition, flow batteries do not have rapid degradation issues that lithium ion has…Utilities have always had to rely on large power plants for generating electricity during peak hours. Mackay said flow batteries could eventually help utilities become less centralized and more site specific.”
With regard to materials, Armijo stated: “The challenge with existing flow batteries is that they lean heavily on materials like vanadium and zinc bromide which are extremely expensive and toxic. Ours is neither of that.”
There have been other companies working on flow batteries of a sort like that as well, in recent years, it should be remembered.