Flow Batteries

Efforts to incorporate renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power into the electrical grid have increased the need for reliable and inexpensive energy storage systems. Redox flow batteries offer great promise to meet the demands of grid-scale storage. Flow batteries operating in non-aqueous media are particularly attractive (yet underdeveloped) targets, as they leverage the high cell potentials available in organic solvents such as acetonitrile. These batteries consist of dissolved solutions of redox active organic molecules or transition metal complexes. As such, the design, optimization, and testing of new battery materials are achieved through a combination of synthetic and physical organic chemistry along with electrochemical testing. Our group is focused on addressing several key challenges in the field, including: (i) the development of highly soluble organic and inorganic molecules that undergo reversible redox processes; (ii) the design of redox activate molecules capable of multiple electron transfers to enhance battery capacity; and (iii) the identification of molecules that are stable and persistent in their oxidized or reduced states to increase battery lifetimes. Our research in this area includes:

  • The design and synthesis of unique anolyte and catholyte molecules for applications in non-aqueous redox flow batteries
  • Persistence and stability analyses of electroactive compounds using a variety of electrochemical, spectroscopic techniques (in collaboration with Prof. Matt Sigman and Prof. Shelley Minteer at University of Utah)
  • The development of strategies to Implement these new anolyte and catholyte materials in full flow battery systems (in collaboration with Prof. Matt Sigman and Prof. Shelley Minteer at University of Utah and Prof. Levi Thompson at the University of Michigan

Key references:

  1. Sevov, C.S.; Brooner, R. E. M.; Chenard, E.; Assary, R. S.; Moore, J. S.; Rodríguez-Lopez, J.; Sanford, M. S. “Evolutionary Design of Low Molecular Weight Organic Anolyte Materials for Applications in Nonaqueous Redox Flow Batteries,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015137, 14465-14472.
  2. Cabrera, P. J.; Yang, X.; Suttil, J. A.; Hawthorne, K. L.; Brooner, R. E. M.; Sanford, M. S.; Thompson, L. T. “Complexes Containing Redox Noninnocent Ligands for Symmetric, Multielectron Transfer Nonaqueous Redox Flow Batteries,” J. Phys. Chem. C 2015119, 15882-15889.