There's something fishy about this flow battery development

Jul 7, 2020 02:37 PM ET
  • Researchers led by MIT have suggested chitin, a carbon and also nitrogen-rich material made from waste shrimp coverings, might create sustainable electrodes for vanadium redox flow batteries as well as other energy storage innovations.
There's something fishy about this flow battery development
Image: MariaGutebring/Pixabay

Eliminating unusual, pricey or otherwise problematic materials from the battery supply chain is a crucial goal which scientists the world over are hard at work on.

When it comes to the stationary storage space needed to level energy supply from periodic renewables, the fact a battery's physical size is reasonably unimportant opens much more possibilities on the materials side.

Redox circulation batteries are among the competing battery chemistries which have actually already seen commercial uptake. Like lots of competing solutions, flow batteries normally feature a carbon electrode, and also a group led by MIT researchers has been examining alternative material resources for this carbon, mainly by considering waste items. The team asserts to have actually fabricated a vanadium redox circulation battery utilizing chitin, which it describes as a "polysaccharide, comparable to cellulose, which is located in the exoskeleton of shellfishes and insects."

Vanadium circulation batteries based on chitin electrodes are defined in the paper Exploration of Biomass-Derived Activated Carbons for usage in Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries, released in ACS Sustainable Chemistry as well as Engineering.


"Obviously, there are carbon electrodes that can yield a far better efficiency yet the secret to this task is to produce such electrodes from a waste material, in this situation chitin from shrimp shells," said Francisco Martin-Martinez, an MIT chemical designer that dealt with the paper. He added, since carbon electrodes are typically produced synthetically, the affordable and sustainability of the precursor material make it attractive as an electrode choice.

One facet of chitin-based electrodes that intrigued the scientists was that the material includes nitrogen in addition to carbon, which is included right into the structure of the electrode as well as was located to assist in electron transfer between vanadium ions, improving battery performance.

The team said it will certainly remain to investigate biomass-based products for usage in power applications, which its chitin electrodes might likewise appropriate for applications consisting of water desalination and also supercapacitor devices.