Monday, April 15, 2013

No. 704: Sumitomo Electric starts to market redox flow batteries in 2014 (April 16, 2013)

Sumitomo Electric plans to market redox flow batteries in 2014. A redox flow battery, which has a life five years longer than a lithium-ion cell, maintains almost the same performance for 15 years and hardly causes a trouble in normal temperature operation. The company reckons that redox flow battery will be in great demand as an auxiliary power source. It has already started preparations for the mass production of major parts. The redox flow battery discharges and charges by the repetition of oxidation reaction and reduction reaction in both sides of the ion-exchange membrane, while circulating vanadium electrolyte by pump. A redox flow battery cannot easily be made small enough to incorporate in a mobile phone because of the necessity of circulating the electrolyte, but it has a long life because the electrode does not deteriorate easily.

The company will focus on the mega solar with an output of several mega watts per hour. A set of photovoltaic generation system with an output of five mega watts that incorporates redox flow batteries will be about 1,000 million yen. At present, lead batteries are widespread, but demand for small high-performance lithium-ion batteries will expand in the domestic market. A lithium-ion battery needs maintenance to prevent thermal runaway in addition to a life that is about 10 years at the longest. The company set up a division staffed with about 30 engineers exclusively for the development of redox flow battery in Osaka. In the initial stage, the company will invest 800 million yen to establish a mass production technology to produce a separating membrane that separates electrolyte into the positive electrode and negative electrode.  

Life and frequency of discharges and charges
Cost of introduction (yen per kW/h)
17 years (3,150 times)
50,000 yen
Nickel hydride
5-7 years (2,000 times)
100,000 yen
6-10 years (3,500 times)
200,000 yen
15 years (4,500 times)
40,000 yen
Redox flow
15-20 years (limitless)
Several tens of thousand yen
Smart Grid from Sumitomo Electric 

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