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Utilizing Free Convection in the Design of a Gravity Driven Flow Battery

As the cost of variable renewable energy resources like wind and solar decline rapidly the major barrier to decarbonization of the electrical grid becomes that of energy storage. Current storage technologies are much too expensive to justify widespread adoption and it is unclear what type of technology is even capable of fulfilling this role. Flow batteries are an often proposed technological solution to this problem but they are plagued by high cost and reliability issues due to the expensive and complex balance of plant included in the system design.

In this work a new design for a gravity driven flow battery is explored which is capable of drastically lowering the cost of flow batteries by removing the pumps and membranes and replacing their function with density stratification and flow driven by the density change of the electrode reactions. A design for a zinc-bromine battery which makes use of this free convection during operation is explored. The system is studied through construction of prototype cells, exploration of key design variables, and a techno-economic analysis of the technology is performed showing cost viability. The free convection phenomenon which underlies the battery operation is expanded upon by connecting non-dimensional correlations in heat transfer with electrochemical transport equations in order to create predictive understanding of flow behavior based on system composition. This correlative understanding is used to construct a model of a zinc-bromine gravity driven flow battery. This model shows results which align with experimental data and gives insight into the complex transport dynamics of the system.
Date January 2023
CreatorsMohr, Robert Charles
Source SetsColumbia University
Detected LanguageEnglish

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