The Little-Known Metal That Could Be The Solution To Renewable Energy’s Biggest Challenges

The Little-Known Metal That Could Be The Solution To Renewable Energy’s Biggest Challenges

The mining industry undergoes continuous advancements since its inception and it is gearing up for the next big advancement, Lithium’s evolution to vanadium batteries.

What is Vanadium?

Vanadium is a semi-hard, steel-blue metal denoted by the letter V. In the past, vanadium has been used to make powerful and durable car parts like automobile gears, crankshafts, piston rods, axles, and springs. The metal was also used to make armor plates and swords in some parts of the world, before the invention of the automobile. 

Vanadium has recently gained attention because of its ability to store large amounts of electricity which could then be fed into power grids when the need arises.

Vanadium redox-flow or V-flow, batteries promise to quickly transform the way energy is stored and generated in numerous industries, including the mining industry and power grids around the world.

Vanadium Flow Batteries are Able to Store “Almost Indefinitely”!

The biggest issue with lithium, or Li-ion batteries, is that they degrade rapidly. Current information indicates that they last for just 3000 to 4000 charge/discharge cycles (which is around 5 to 10 years) before they need to be replaced. They also lose capacity quickly with use.

However, vanadium flow batteries have a typical life cycle of 15,000+ charge/discharge cycles or up to 25 years, the other parts wear out, but not the vanadium. 

Most solar energy is collected during the day from noon to 4 p.m. With a V flow battery, we can take the energy created during those hours and store it for use that night and later on. Plus, frequent battery replacements are unnecessary. In other words, vanadium is a much more efficient source of renewable energy storage.

Benefits of Vanadium

Compared to Lithium

  1. Greater energy storage capacity. Vanadium stores energy in tanks compared to lithium batteries that store energy in cells. This difference in storage techniques allows better scaling in industrial-scale applications and in grid-scale storage systems. With vanadium, the “energy tank” can just be made larger to extend the duration, instead of adding multiple batteries as with lithium.
  1. Linear cost growth. As explained above, vanadium, or V Flow, batteries have a tank that can simply be made larger to expand energy storage; vanadium battery cost/kWh decreases as capacity is increased. With lithium, capacity is increased by purchasing additional batteries, thus the cost/kWh grows linearly.

For example, lithium batteries typically cost $600 to $900/kWh and last for 3,000 to 4,000 cycles. Therefore, their cost per cycle averages $0.21. Plus, lithium batteries lose up to 40% capacity very quickly.

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The advantage of vanadium is that at a similar price point, it can complete 15,000 cycles, lowering its average cost to as low as $0.04 per cycle.

The above advantages make V flow batteries ideal for long-duration stationary energy storage applications!

There is more!

  1. An abundance of resources. The Earth contains more vanadium than lithium, making it easier for miners to obtain. Battery makers are already experiencing lithium shortages and those shortages are expected to increase in the future, particularly as EVs will grow in popularity, increasing demand for lithium batteries.
  1. Manufacturing vanadium is ecologically safe and low cost. The electrolyte in vanadium batteries, unlike lithium, does not cross-contaminate, thus it never decays. In other words, the electrolyte can be reused forever and there is no need to mine fresh vanadium. Vanadium flow batteries have a Recyclability Index close to 100%!

The Time for Vanadium has Arrived …

Countries are now looking at safety, cost, environmental impact, and end-of-life processing when it comes to energy storage and distribution. Vanadium stands above the competition in all of these areas.

It’s only a matter of time before more energy providers and investors catch on. Companies like StoreEnTech are here to spark a renewable energy transition. 

StorEnTech has developed evolutionary vanadium flow batteries. Incubated at the Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (CEBIP) within Stony Brook University in New York, they aim to build upon the strengths of vanadium flow batteries to revolutionize the world of residential and industrial energy storage. These batteries deliver superior performances at a lower cost and fulfill market demand for more efficient and cost-effective energy storage. 

StorEnTech enhances the durability and sturdiness of the vanadium and with extensive R&D, focuses on improving the electrical efficiency of the stack, the energy density of the electrolyte, and the module. Through these processes, the company creates efficient, powerful, environmentally-friendly batteries.

The company has partnered with Ruralelec.org, an international business association that promotes a sustainable decentralized renewable energy industry for the 21st century, activating markets for affordable energy services, and creating local jobs and inclusive economies.

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