Applied Energy, Vol.236, 437-443, 2019
Vanadium redox flow battery with slotted porous electrodes and automatic rebalancing demonstrated on a 1 kW system level
Capacity loss due to electrolyte crossover through the membrane and pump losses due to pressure drop at the porous electrodes are widely known issues in vanadium redox flow batteries during operation. In commercial systems, these losses account for a significant reduction in the overall efficiency. Previous studies have been focused on the development of new membranes to solve the capacity loss, and design modification to reduce the pressure drop. In this work, we propose unique solutions to solve both problems and are demonstrated in a multi cell stack for the first time. A 20-cell, 1 kW vanadium redox flow battery stack was assembled using thin bipolar plates and porous electrodes featuring interdigitated flow channels. Such a stack design is novel of its kind and can mitigate various problems associated with flow distribution and pump power in flow batteries. In addition, the electrolyte tanks were shunted together to rebalance the electrolyte automatically. The stack showed a very good and stable performance with an energy efficiency of 80.5% at a current density of 80 mA cm(-2). The use of hydraulic shunt resulted in a constant capacity over 250 cycles while the use of flow channels on the porous electrodes resulted in - 40% reduction in pressure drop, compared to a stack with standard felts. The reduction in pressure drop by employing flow channels reduced the pump power proportionally. Overall, capacity retention and utilization of active materials have been improved substantially. These methods are simple and applicable to any size of vanadium redox flow battery.