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Award to lower costs for flow-battery membranes and reactants

By Scott Jenkins |

United Technologies Research Center (UTRC; East Hartford, Conn.; www.utrc.utc.com) has been awarded a $2.7-million cooperative research agreement to further develop two technologies aimed at lowering the capital cost of flow batteries for electrical grid-energy storage. UTRC will lead the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy) Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids (Ionics) program. Other participants in the Ionics program include Harvard University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of South Carolina and Advent Technologies. The research team will seek to build upon UTRC’s work on a polar polymer membrane that was originally used in phosphoric-acid fuel cells. The simple, porous ionic separator is doped with sulfuric acid and may obviate the need for more expensive ion-exchange membranes in stationary flow batteries. Such a membrane could lower the cost of that component by a factor of five, says UTRC researcher Michael Perry. In addition, the award will support development work on lower-cost flow-battery reactants. Currently, most flow-battery reactants are based on vanadium or other transition metals, but the research team will be screening…
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