Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs) for Long-Duration Energy Storage

Photo: Frank Michaux, NASA


After so many decades of intensive use of coal and oil as major sources of energy, humanity must now face the pollution and global warming problems that they have induced. Massively embracing solar, wind, and tidal renewable energy for electricity production is a relevant response to the global energy needs. However, due to the transitory nature of most renewable energy, their use requires many adjustments, primarily the development of energy storage systems able to store electricity during periods of overproduction (e.g., daytime for solar) and then redistribute it during periods of high electricity demand (e.g., evening and night).

While Li-ion-based batteries are a potential short-term response, the depletion of lithium stocks and their strategic geopolitical importance make it essential to develop new solutions. Several sustainable approaches are being considered in the energy-storage field. Among them, a promising, large-scale storage technology is Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs), in which energy is stored in liquid electrolyte solutions that flow through a battery of electrochemical cells. To date, reliable chemical solutions have been developed based on metal ion electrolytes, but these face toxicity problems that are gradually becoming too damaging and too costly for larger civilian applications.

The goal of this project is to develop a new class of electrolyte for RFBs that can manage long-duration energy storage and overcome the limitations of Li-ion-based and vanadium-based batteries. To that end, students involved in this project will conduct research on one or more of the following topics:

  • Synthesis of novel electrolytes
  • Testing the solubility of the electrolytes
  • Analyzing the electrochemical behaviors of the electrolyte
  • Developing and engineering the battery prototype
  • Analyzing the data
  • Molecular models

Issues Involved or Addressed

  • Renewable energy
  • Energy storage
  • Electric grid sustainability
  • Batteries
  • Climate change

Methods and Tech

  • Organic synthesis
  • NMR and EPR spectroscopy
  • UV-Vis spectroscopy
  • Cyclic voltammetry
  • Redox Flow battery
  • DFT calculations

Academic Majors of Interest

  • Chemistry
  • Engineering (Electrical, Computer, Mechanical)
  • STEM
  • Honors College
  • Computer Science / Data Science

Team Advisors

Thomas L. Gianetti, PhD

Jules Moutet, PhD