VFlowTech, a cleantech company founded in 2018 in Singapore, develops and manufactures low-cost and efficient modular vanadium redox flow batteries for long-duration energy storage solutions.
Challenges: energy storage
Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are becoming increasingly prevalent in the global energy mix. However, they are inherently intermittent; they are unavailable when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. This intermittent nature creates a significant challenge for integrating renewable energy into the power grid, as the energy must be stored when it is available and then released when it is needed.
Vanadium redox flow batteries are a promising technology for storing large-scale renewable energy. They are particularly suitable for autonomous energy supply systems in areas with no individual power supply, such as remote farms or mobile radio antennas, as well as for storing energy generated by photovoltaic systems or wind power plants.
Flow batteries are a type of rechargeable battery that stores and releases energy via the movement of electrolytes. The electrolyte is stored outside the battery cells and is pumped through the system during charging and discharging, making them distinct from conventional batteries. This design makes flow batteries an ideal candidate for large-scale energy storage applications due to their scalability advantages over conventional batteries.
One of the most significant advantages of flow batteries is their long lifespan. Typically, they can operate for at least 10,000 charge and discharge cycles, which translates into a lifespan of over 20 years. This durability makes them a very cost-effective option for large-scale energy storage applications.
Additionally, flow batteries have a high level of safety. Unlike conventional batteries, they do not produce heat or gas during operation, which eliminates the risk of thermal runaway or explosion. This feature makes them an attractive option for grid-scale energy storage applications, where safety is a primary concern.
Flow batteries can independently scale the energy storage capacity and power output of the system by merely increasing the volume of stored electrolyte, making this technology highly adaptable to the local conditions of the energy source.
Despite these advantages, flow batteries have a significant drawback in that their typical operating efficiency ranges from 70 to 80%, which reduces the economic benefit of renewable energies. This inefficiency is caused by the need to continuously pump electrolytes through the system, which results in energy losses.
VFlowTech develops flow battery systems with improved efficiency of up to 85%. The flow battery systems have smart pump and stack management that can improve their efficiencies by 3-5% because some of the pumps can be deactivated under low-load conditions. In addition, the design of primary and auxiliary stacks enables an economic mode to be activated when only the primary stack is required to supply the load, allowing the auxiliary stack to be disconnected and its electrolyte pumps to be deactivated to save power.
The structure of VFlowTech’s flow battery
The diagram below depicts VFlowTech’s flow battery system.
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