A German battery lab is breathing new life into an old concept — solid flow batteries — by removing rare metals from the components list.
“Nature had a choice to use metal or organic molecules to store and release energy. It chose organic. So are we,” the company states on its website, referencing the chemical reaction powering living cells.
Flow batteries work by pumping liquid electrolytes — the substance where the charge/discharge cycle happens — from external tanks through positive and negative electrodes in a “constant flow,” per CMBlu.
“We’re transitioning from a fossil fuel economy to a renewables and metals economy — there’s so much metal” needed for common batteries, CMBlu U.S. Division President Ben Kaun told Canary Media. ”What we have here at CMBlu is a rechargeable polymer, a rechargeable plastic. We can make the plastic [and] recycle the plastic.” The company touts fully recyclable electrolytes.
The tech is meant for large-scale storage. CMBlu claims that with maintenance, the battery can “potentially” achieve “unlimited” cycles with up to 90% efficiency. It’s nonflammable as well, according to the company.
Bulk storage tech is an important part of harnessing intermittent renewable energy from the sun, wind, and waves. Tesla is in the sector with its Megapacks, which use lithium. Other concepts leverage the power of gravity and water to store energy.
The company recently landed an investment roughly equivalent to $109 million, according to Canary Media. It has contracts with utilities in the U.S. and Europe and intends to start delivering batteries here in 2025.
In the U.S., CMBlu is targeting areas (Wisconsin and Arizona among them) with a waning coal power presence, all per Canary Media. The story notes that some other companies have flow battery projects set to go online by the decade’s end.
For CMBlu, the goal is to give new life to an old concept for a cleaner future.
“A clean and renewable energy future demands radical new concepts for energy storage,” the company states on its website.
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