Batteries: Swiss test Li-ion-titanate plus German redox-flow breakthrough

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne will begin testing the shipping container-sized Li-ion-titanate battery at its campus from this week

In Europe, a Swiss university this week has started an energy storage pilot based on an industrial-capacity Li-ion-titanate battery supplied by Swiss company Leclanché.

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has installed the battery at its Distributed Electrical Systems Laboratory.

The battery is connected to the Romande Energie-EPFL solar park, one of the largest in French-speaking Switzerland, according to a company statement.

Researchers will use the battery system, which is the size of a shipping container, to test its suitability for storing renewable energy (especially solar energy) and feeding it into the power distribution grid, as part of the ‘EPFL Smart Grid’ project.

The life of the Li-ion-titanate battery cells is around 15,000 charge-discharge cycles.

It can hold up to 500 kWh, which is the equivalent of the average energy consumed by 50 Swiss households over the course of one day, while managing variations in power as a function of the sunshine.

The research is carried out by professor Mario Paolone, the head of EPFL’s Distributed Electrical Systems Laboratory, who said: “Because of the system’s high capacity, we will be able for the first time to carry out real-world tests on the new control methods offered by the smart grids developed at EPFL.”

The project, which is being majority funded by Swiss administrative district – the Canton of Vaud, will run for the next 23 months.

Organic redox-flow battery

In other energy storage news this week, researchers from Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University have gone public with a new type of redox-flow battery that they claim can withstand up to 10,000 charging cycles without losing significant capacity.

The batteries are made from organic polymers and a harmless saline solution, according to a news release, and are ideally suited to store energy from renewable sources.

Redox-flow batteries were first built in the 1940s and are considered a promising large-scale energy-storage technology, according to Nature Journal.

Dr. Martin Hager, researcher of the study, from Friedrich Schiller University Jena, commented: “What’s new and innovative about our battery is that it can be produced at much less cost, while nearly reaching the capacity of traditional metal and acid containing systems.”