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Iron-Based Flow Batteries for Grid-Scale Energy Storage

  • Date
    Mon, Mar 24

    2:00 PM — 3:15 PM

    Steinman Hall 160 - Lecture Hall

    p: 212.650.5748


  • Event Details

    The ChE Department would like to welcome Robert Savinell from Case Western Reserve University

    Large-scale energy storage is required to meet a multitude of current energy challenges.  These challenges include modernizing the grid, incorporating intermittent renewable energy sources (so as to dispatch continuous electrical energy), improving the efficiency of electricity transmission and distribution, and providing flexibility of storage independent of geographical and geological location.  In addition, such storage would be scalable for centralized or distributed use.
    The technology approach considered here is based on using very low cost iron electrolytes in a flow battery that will be economically feasible and competitive.  Capital cost for this Iron Flow Battery (IFB) is estimated to be $100/kW (without power conditioning) and, based on 10 hours of energy storage, $10/kWh (for a decoupled system). Additional advantages of the IFB include abundant, non-toxic, and non-corrosive materials that are used to provide an energy storage solution that has inherently safe operation and is environmentally friendly.  The Iron Flow Battery will further reduce downstream lifecycle costs (including maintenance and disposal) that are often underestimated.  Relevant scientific literature illustrates that the chemistry has been demonstrated in laboratory cells, which involved a ferrous/ferric ion redox couple for the positive half-cell and a ferrous/iron metal couple for the negative half-cell.

    In this presentation Professor Savinell will describe our design approaches for the negative electrode of the IFB where iron is plated on the charge cycle and de-plated on the discharge cycle.  Two approaches are being taken in our laboratories; one where iron is stored within the stack like a conventional battery, and a second approach where iron is plated on moving slurry of conducting particles and thus the power and energy capacity of a system can be decoupled.  Each approach has a range of potential advantages and applications, and of course, a number of technical and economic challenges.  Through experiments and analysis we are probing the challenges and limitations of each approach, which are often controlled by design and by materials composition, structure, and cost properties.  He will describe some of our electrode designs, operational strategies and analysis.  Results will be presented of electrode materials and rheology property studies, and experimental/calculations to probe and diagnose operating performance of these electrode structures in operating half-cells.  Energy storage performance testing approaches and results in full cells will also be presented.  The implications of these results for developing practical and efficient large scale energy storage systems will be discussed.

    Dr. Robert F. Savinell received his BChe from Cleveland State University in 1973, and his MS (1974) and PhD )1977), both in chemical engineering from University of Pittsburgh.  He was employed as a research engineer for Diamond Shamrock Corporation, then as a chemical engineering faculty member at the University of Akron (1979-1985) before joining the faculty at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in 1986.  Professor Savinell was the director of the Ernest B. Yeager Center for Electrochemical Sciences at CWRU for ten years (1990-2000) and served as Dean of Engineering at CWRU for seven years (2000-2007).  Professor Savinell  has been engaged in electrochemical engineering research and development for forty years.      Savinell’ s  research is directed at fundamental science and mechanistic issues of electrochemical processes; and at electrochemical technology systems and device design, development, modeling and optimization.  His research has addressed applications for energy conversion, energy storage, sensing, and electrochemical materials extraction and synthesis.      Savinell is the co-inventor of the PBI/PA water-less proton conducting membrane which was licensed to several companies, and now is the basis for several commercial products.  This invention and related research stimulated a global research effort on high temperature membranes for PEM fuel cells.     

    Professor Savinell is the current Editor of the  Journal of the Electrochemical Society.  He is a Fellow of the Electrochemical Society, Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and Fellow of the International Society of Electrochemistry.