Why flow batteries are safe

Why flow batteries are safe

Flow batteries are an inherently safe technology.

The battery materials have low flammability: for instance, one of the key advantages of an aqueous flow battery is that “thermal runaways” are not possible, as the key component of the non-flammable electrolyte is water.

Advantages and benefits

Flow batteries have been installed in several places for a wide range of applications. They are a reliable, low cost and environmentally benign method for electrical energy storage.

  • Flow battery technology is modular and scalable so systems can be made to suit a wide range of applications, from power ratings of watts to megawatts, and with energy durations of many hours or even days.
  • The battery can be constructed of low cost and readily available materials, such as thermoplastics and carbon-based materials. Many parts of the battery can be recycled. Electrolytes can be recovered and reused, leading to low cost of ownership.
  • The battery materials have low flammability and low environmental impact.
  • The electrolytes can be used as part of the heat management strategy for the battery, reducing the need for complex heating or cooling of the battery system. This reduces costs.
  • Because electrochemical cells share a common electrolyte each cell can be in the same state of charge, simplifying cell balancing and battery operation. The state of charge of the whole system can be measured at a single point (or several measurement points can be used to check the correct functioning of the battery system).
  • Overcharging and fully discharging do not usually cause permanent damage to the electrodes or electrolytes.
  • There is limited self-discharge in standby mode and, when shut down, there is no self-discharge.
  • Energy storage capacities are independent of their power rating and so flow batteries are highly suitable for long-duration energy storage. As the incremental cost of increasing energy storage capacity reflects the cost of tanks and the electrolyte, the overall cost of a long-duration battery is lower than for other battery types.

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