Lead and flow batteries among future ESS technologies

Lead and flow batteries among future ESS technologies

Lead and flow batteries among future ESS technologies 814 348 Energy Storage Journal

August 3, 2023: Lead, lithium and flow batteries have been included among assessments of 10 technologies with the potential to support future long duration energy storage (LDES) projects in the US.

The Department of Energy analysis came in a series of technical reports released on July 19 under its Energy Storage Grand Challenge initiative by the Office of Electricity.

The DOE is backing LDES research, development, and deployment and aims to achieve 90% cost reductions for technologies that can provide 10 hours or more of energy storage within the coming decade.

On lead batteries, the DOE said while the technology’s energy density is relatively low at 25kWh/m3 to 100kWh/m3when compared to a lithium battery at 150kWh/m3 to 500kWh/m3 lead has excellent low-temperature stability.

Lead’s “many advantages include its low-cost and globally abundant raw materials, fundamental safety due to its aqueous electrolyte, and a 99% recycling rate, which minimizes the health and environmental risks”, the lead assessment said.

The lead battery has a strong history of market impact in automotive starting, lighting, and ignition, but also is used in forklifts and data center backup.

The assessment said grid energy storage is a relatively new opportunity for lead batteries.

LDES markets require exceptionally low-cost technology solutions — and “the only potentially viable storage chemistries are those derived from super-low-cost and abundant raw materials, such as lead”.

However, the DOE said “significant redesign” of lead batteries may be needed to meet future LDES demands.

On redox flow batteries, the DOE said they have unique characteristics such as decoupled energy and power, scalability, and potential cost-effectiveness, due to their liquid nature.

These features make RFBs well suited for various applications, including utility-scale energy storage, microgrids, renewables integration, backup power, and remote/off-grid power.

On lithium, the DOE said supply chains for materials will be critical for broad adoption of li-ion batteries for LDES.

“Even if steps are taken to mitigate or minimize the use of nickel and cobalt for the positive electrodes in LDES applications, there will remain a key need for Li.”

Finding and maintaining domestic sources of lithium and other critical battery materials will be needed for advances in R&D and deployment.

Links to all of the technologies assessed are on the Office of Electricity website.