Europe to try out new zinc-bromide batteries
Renewable energy producer Acciona Energia is to submit to commercial testing this year the Anglo-Australian company Gelion’s new development at a solar power farm with a capacity of 1.2 megawatt (MW) in the Spanish province of Navarra, Gelion announced. The innovation is the use of a non-flow zinc-bromide battery only recently put to general use.

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As an alternative to the lithium-ion battery, the zinc-bromide battery uses a chemical reaction between the bromide and the zinc to produce electrical current and to ensure conductivity – a zinc bromide solution.

    In zinc bromide batteries, this solution takes a liquid form, whereas in non-flow batteries it is a gel. Both types of zinc bromide batteries are sustainable in high temperatures (up to 50 degrees Celsius) and require no special fire protection or cooling systems. In addition, discharging the battery to zero has no effect on future operational performance.

    However, using a flow battery requires a container for the zinc bromide solution. Non-flow batteries, with no such container required, are therefore more compact. Another distinctive feature is in terms of the specific density of energy storage — in flow batteries, this fluctuates between 60 to 85 watt hours (Wh) per kilogram, whereas in non-flow batteries it amounts to about 120 Wh per kg.

   Another difference is the efficiency of reception-transmission of energy – from a flow battery one can extract on average 70 % of stored energy, while the figure for a non-flow battery is more than 80 %.

    To date, the sole supplier of non-flow batteries is the U.S. company EOS, created in 2008, and the Australian startup Gelion, founded in 2015 by University of Sydney Professor Thomas Maschmeyer. In 2016, Gelion secured investments worth $11 million from the British firm Armstrong Energy, which had opened an office in Britain and in 2021 carried out an IPO on an alternative investment platform at the London stock exchange where shares in young, growing companies are traded.

    The partnership with Armstrong Energy helped Gelion create a demonstration version of its batteries under the trade name Endure with a view to moving towards commercial production. Testing at Acciona Energia solar farm in Spain in 2022 could provide an important stage on this path.

    “Our battery technology is ideally suited to support the energy transition as the world acts to prevent a deepening of the climate crisis,” Gelion quoted Maschmeyer as saying in its press release – the professor now acts as the company’s principal technology adviser.

    Should the tests prove successful, the Endure batteries will be used on a permanent basis by Acciona Energia.

    Energy storage is one of the fastest growing segments of world-wide energy development. World-wide investment in development and production of storage devices has increased from $2 billion in 2016 to $7 billion in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Energy storage devices are being used increasingly widely in Russia – Rosseti in December 2021 brought on stream 31 systems of energy storage on the basis of lithium-ion storage batteries.


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February 2022