SBIR Phase I: High energy density, low cost, nano-enabled aqueous flow battery suitable for transportation applications

Period of Performance: 12/15/2016 - 11/30/2017

$225K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Influit Energy LLC
2312 W. Warren Blvd
Chicago, IL 60612
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR Phase I project is to develop and demonstrate novel nanotechnology based flow battery that meets demanding 2020 energy density targets for transportation and stationary storage and offers a cheaper, safer and environmentally friendly rechargeable energy-storing fluid, which could ultimately allow using batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) in the same fashion as gasoline-powered engines. The proposed innovative approach uses advancements in nanotechnology to merge solid battery chemistries into a convenient flowable format (nanoelectrofuels or NEF). The low cost and high energy density of the proposed flow batteries (up to 350 Wh/L) makes this technology highly competitive with currently used Li-ion batteries (250 Wh/L), while the flowable format enables charging the liquid in one device and use of energy in a separate device, offering new refueling opportunities for EV operations, specifically addressing range anxiety and long charging time - issues currently preventing widespread adoption of EVs. From the commercial perspective the successful development of the proposed low cost high energy density aqueous flow battery could be transformational for electrification of personal and commercial transportation, grid leveling, and integration of renewable energy sources into our individual energy usage for a climate-friendly, environmentally and economically sustainable future. In this project novel low-cost, high energy density rechargeable liquids that feature active energy storing materials in pumpable low viscosity aqueous nanosuspension (NEF) will be demonstrated in a full flow cell reactor (Phase I). The challenge of achieving electroactive suspensions with high solid loading and low viscosity is addressed by changing the surface chemistry of nanoparticles and based on the patented surface modification approach which enables high dispersibility of nanoparticles in fluids and their ability to more efficiently transport and store electrical energy. Innovation in flow cell designs are also proposed for effective battery operations with this new energy storage format. Demonstration of this technology in a full flow cell will significantly de-risk further commercialization efforts for this transformational technology and will enable highly versatile, interchangeable and rechargeable liquids for electrical energy storage solutions. The main outcome of this project (Phase II) will be the prototype of NEF flow battery with design geared towards the first market - light electric utility vehicles (EUVs, $1.3 B market in US) that currently use Pb-acid batteries. For the same volume and 25% lower price per kWh the NEF battery offers ~3 times the energy storage and the additional ability of rapid charge replenishment through active material (NEF) replacement.