Shell Canada delves into vanadium flow battery technology
An engineer with Shell Canada has come up with a way to use a by-product from the oilsands of Alberta to create large utility-scale electricity storage for renewable energy projects.
Vanadium is a lesser-known medium-hard, steel-blue metal that rarely exists in nature as a free element, but it can be found in about 65 minerals, including magnetite, vanadinite, carnotite, and patronite. It also can be found in phosphate rock and in the oil sands of Canada.
Almost 80 percent of the vanadium produced is alloyed with iron to make a shock- and corrosion-resistant steel additive called ferrovanadium, used in making everything from cutting tools to car springs and even nuclear reactors. But who knew vanadium could be used in making a rechargeable flow battery to store chemical potential energy?
A vanadium redox flow battery, or vanadium flow battery is a type of rechargeable flow battery that employs vanadium ions in different oxidation states to store chemical potential energy. The vanadium redox battery exploits the ability of vanadium to exist in solution in four different oxidation states.
This unusual property means a flow battery can be made with just one electro-active element instead of two. Because of their relatively large size, they are mostly used for grid energy storage, such as being attached to power plants or electrical grids.
However, with the cost of renewable energy coming down and the increased investments in renewable technologies globally, as well as the growing concern over the environmental impacts of lead-acid batteries, all this is expected to propel growth in the global vanadium redox battery market in the coming years.
Shell Canada’s vanadium redox flow battery
According to a new report published by Reports Monitor titled, “Vanadium Redox Flow Battery Market by Type, and Application: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2017–2025,” because of the long-scale duration, and electrical efficiency of the flow battery, strong growth is expected.