A team of Harvard scientists and engineers has demonstrated a new type of battery that could fundamentally transform the way electricity is stored on the grid, making power from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar far more economical and reliable.
The mismatch between the availability of intermittent wind or sunshine and the variability of demand is the biggest obstacle to getting a large fraction of our electricity from renewable sources. A cost-effective means of storing large amounts of electrical energy could solve this problem.
The new flow battery developed by the Harvard team already performs as well as vanadium flow batteries, with chemicals that are significantly less expensive, and with no precious metal electrocatalyst.
Quinones are abundant in crude oil as well as in green plants. The molecule that the Harvard team used in its first quinone-based flow battery is almost identical to one found in rhubarb. The quinones are dissolved in water, which prevents them from catching fire.
Who would have thought that rhubarb would be a game changer?