A new type of energy storage system could revolutionize energy storage and reduce the charging time of electric cars from hours to seconds.


In a new paper published by the Nature Chemistry journal, chemists from the University of Glasgow discuss how they have developed a new ‘flow battery’ system which utilises nano-molecules that can store either electric power or hydrogen gas.  The technology uses a metal oxide that can be charged with electricity when added to water.

Because the material is a pumpable liquid, the battery of an electric car could be recharged in roughly the same length of time as petrol cars can be filled up.  The old battery liquid would be removed at the same time and recharged ready to be used again.

The approach was designed and developed by Professor Leroy Cronin, the University of Glasgow’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, and Dr Mark Symes, Senior Lecturer in Electrochemistry, also at the University of Glasgow, with Dr Jia Jia Chen, who is a researcher in the team.

“For future renewables to be effective, high capacity and flexible energy storage systems are needed to smooth out the peaks and troughs in supply,” Professor Cronin said.  “Our approach will provide a new route to do this electrochemically and could have application in electric cars where batteries can still take hours to recharge and have limited capacity.  Moreover, the very high energy density of our material could increase the range of electric cars, and also increase the resilience of energy storage systems to keep the lights on at times of peak demand.”

This research is funded by the University of Glasgow complex chemistry initiative as well as the European Research Council and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council. 

Added: 04 September 2018

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