University of Cincinnati team leading research in green energy battery technology

UC team Article

Dr. Jimmy Jiang is an associate professor in chemistry at the University of Cincinnati and is working alongside students to push the boundaries of battery performance through their research of a new kind of battery.

By Green Umbrella,

Published September 7, 2023

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Source: WLWT 5

University of Cincinnati team leading research in green energy battery technology

CINCINNATI — Dr. Jimmy Jiang is an associate professor in chemistry at the University of Cincinnati and is working alongside students to push the boundaries of battery performance through their research of a new kind of battery. Their hope is that not only will this improve energy storage for green energy, but it could one day be used in homes and electric vehicles.

According to Jiang, while current technology used for solar and wind farms isn’t necessarily flawed, it does have limits to its capabilities. One way that energy produced is used is by feeding directly to electric companies that implement it into their electrical grids or distributing it to other areas. When energy is being stored to be used at another time, Jiang says wind and solar farms typically have to use on-site special batteries or mechanical systems for storage.

“As more renewable energy is required for our daily use, we have to sort out energy storage devices to store that energy,” Jiang said.

With the growing energy demand, that’s where Jiang and his teams’ research comes into play by developing a new kind of what’s known as a flow battery. Flow batteries were first developed by NASA and have been used in different applications for years. However, most flow batteries use a membrane inside them to separate the positive and negatively charged solvents that store energy. These can often decrease the efficiency of the battery, but Jiang is developing a new type of flow battery that eliminates the membrane altogether.

“What we have been doing is to look for two different types of solvents so that even though there is no membrane in between, they still do not mix with each other,” Jiang said.

By using two different types of solvents stacked one on top of the other, Jiang explains that this will help solve the issue of the oppositely charged solvents mixing. This, in turn, will keep performance high and also help bring down the overall cost.

“The cost of the membrane can go up to thirty percent to forty percent of the overall cost, so it’s really a big part in terms of cost,” Jiang said.

Through initial cost estimates, the new flow battery is nearly the same as the current technology on the market. However, the team expects the cost to decrease as they get further in development when they are able to scale up larger. Along with the performance and expected cost improvements, Jiang explains that the biggest advantage of this new technology will be scalability to fit with nearly any energy storage and usage demand needed.

“You can easily scale up or scale down the batter to meet the requirement of that specific solar farm or wind turbine. So for solution-based systems, we can easily change the size of the tank to change the capacity of the batteries,” Jiang said.

Jiang and his team are still in the fundamental stages of this new technology and expect it to still be several years before it’s implemented in the real world. However, the team has submitted a provisional patent application on the promising research they’ve conducted so far.

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