LONDON, ENGLAND — Imperial College London announced on Thursday that one of its scientists has won a €1.5 million (US$1.64 million) grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to further his research into cost-effective redox flow batteries, which are large energy storage devices that could power cities.
A typical flow battery consists of two tanks of electrolytes, which are pumped past a membrane held between two electrodes. The membrane separator allows the diffusion of ions across the membrane between the tanks while preventing the cross-mixing of the electrolyte solutions.
Dr. Qilei Song from Imperial College’s Department of Chemical Engineering won the ERC Starting Grant. The project will involve collaboration with researchers at Imperial, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Cambridge and institutions in the European Union and China, according to the Imperial College.
Dr. Song told Xinhua that currently the cost of the membrane used in making flow batteries is still very high, so his team is aiming to design and manufacture next-generation low-cost ion-selective membranes based on nanoporous polymers with well-defined porosity and ion-conductive functionality.
This kind of battery is relatively safer in large scale use compared to other forms of battery, and is suitable for large-scale energy storage.
The research could help accelerate developments in renewable energy, mitigate climate change and solve the mismatch between the intermittent supply of renewable energy and the variable power grid, according to Dr. Song.
ERC Starting Grants recognize talented early-career scientists who show potential to be research leaders and have a scientific track record showing great promise.