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New tools show a way forward for large-scale storage of renewable energy

last modified Apr 28, 2020 01:45 PM

A technique based on the principles of MRI and NMR has allowed researchers to observe not only how next-generation batteries for large-scale energy storage work, but also how they fail, which will assist in the development of strategies to extend battery lifetimes in support of the transition to a zero-carbon future.


The new tools, developed at the University of Cambridge, will help scientists design more efficient and safer battery systems for grid-scale energy storage. In addition, the technique may be applied to other types of batteries and electrochemical cells to untangle the complex reaction mechanisms that occur in these systems, and to detect and diagnose faults.

The researchers tested their techniques on organic redox flow batteries, promising candidates to store enough renewable energy to power towns and cities, but which degrade too quickly for commercial applications. The researchers found that by charging the batteries at a lower voltage, they were able to significantly slow the rate of degradation, extending the batteries’ lifespan.

"We need to understand both how these systems function and also how they fail if we are going to make progress in this field." Professor Clare Grey.

The researchers now want to apply their NMR setup on other types of organic redox flow batteries, as well as on other types of next-generation batteries, such as lithium-air batteries.

Read the full University of Cambridge article here.


Read the Nature publication "In situ NMR metrology reveals reaction mechanisms in redox flow batteries"

Image credit: Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash