Unbound Potential (A Swiss startup develops a low-cost, membrane-free redox flow battery for renewable energy storage)

Unbound Potential, a Swiss energy storage startup founded in 2023, develops a low-cost membrane-free redox flow battery system for long-term energy storage.

Challenges: Store renewable energy at a low cost

By the end of2022, the world had about 1,185 GW of installed solar capacity and about 906 GW of installed wind capacity. In the last decade, solar power has grown by an average of 24% per year. In the first quarter of 2023, the US solar industry installed 6.1 GW of capacity, which is 47% more than in the first quarter of 2022. On the other hand, the average power of new wind turbines installed in the US in 2022 was 3.2 MW, which is 7% more than 2021.

As more and more solar cells and wind turbines are being installed, the ability to store this clean electricity would significantly increase the efficiency and reliability of these intermittent renewable energy sources.

Flow batteries use the movement of electrolytes to store and release electrical energy. A typical flow battery has two half-cells that are separated by a membrane. Each half-cell has an electrode and an electrolyte. The electrolytes, called anolyte and catholyte, contain the redox-active species dissolved in an aqueous or non-aqueous solvent. They are stored outside the battery. When the battery is charged or discharged, they flow through the half-cells in contact with the electrodes, thanks to external pumps. This is very different from lithium-ion batteries.

However, the high cost of flow battery systems has limited their application worldwide. The capital cost of flow batteries is around $800 per kilowatt-hour, which is more than twice that of lithium-ion batteries. The membrane of the flow batteries is one of the obstacles to the widespread commercialization of the battery because it is not only expensive, accounting for up to 40 % of the total cost, but also limit the battery’s performance and lifespan. Therefore, we need cheap, high-energy, and stable flow battery systems for long-term energy storage.

Unbound Potential Technology

Unbound Potential develops a low-cost rechargeable flow battery system without a membrane. Its flow battery utilizes the immiscibility of oil and aqueous redox electrolytes, which enables a membrane-free design that can significantly reduce the battery system’s total cost. Unbound Potential’s core technology is the design of the battery reactor that enables the flow of both electrolytes for efficient electrode cell dynamics.

How Unbound Potential battery works?

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