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Research Papers

Pathways Toward Enhanced Techno-Economic Performance of Flow Battery Systems in Energy System Applications

[+] Author and Article Information
Menglian Zheng

Mem. ASME
Institute of Thermal Science and
Power Systems,
State Key Laboratory of Clean Energy Utilization,
School of Energy Engineering,
Zhejiang University,
Zheda Road 38,
Hangzhou 310027, China
e-mail: menglian_zheng@zju.edu.cn

Jie Sun

Institute of Thermal Science and
Power Systems,
School of Energy Engineering,
Zhejiang University,
Zheda Road 38,
Hangzhou 310027, China
e-mail: 11627019@zju.edu.cn

Christoph J. Meinrenken

Columbia Climate Center,
Earth Institute,
Columbia University,
New York, NY 10025
e-mail: cmeinrenken@ei.columbia.edu

Tao Wang

State Key Laboratory of
Clean Energy Utilization,
School of Energy Engineering,
Zhejiang University,
Zheda Road 38,
Hangzhou 310027, China
e-mail: oatgnaw@zju.edu.cn

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received March 27, 2018; final manuscript received July 10, 2018; published online September 17, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Partha P. Mukherjee.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 16(2), 021001 (Sep 17, 2018) (11 pages) Paper No: JEECS-18-1029; doi: 10.1115/1.4040921 History: Received March 27, 2018; Revised July 10, 2018

Redox flow batteries have shown great potential for a wide range of applications in future energy systems. However, the lack of a deep understanding of the key drivers of the techno-economic performance of different flow battery technologies—and how these can be improved—is a major barrier to wider adoption of these battery technologies. This study analyzes these drivers and provides an extensive comparison of four flow battery technologies, including the all-vanadium redox (VRB), iron–chromium, zinc–bromine, and polysulfide–bromine flow batteries, by examining their current and projected techno-economic performances. We address the potential for performance improvements and resulting cost reduction by developing a component-based learning curve model. The model considers the near-term learning rates for various subcomponents of each of the four battery technologies as well as their technological improvements. The results show that (i) both technological improvements in the performance parameters as well as mass production effects could drive significant cost reductions for flow battery systems; (ii) flow battery systems could be cost-effective in a variety of energy system applications in the near future; and (iii) from a techno-economic perspective, VRB systems are more suitable for the applications that require low energy and high power capacities.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Methodology for the flow battery cost calculation and prediction (The dashed, dotted, and dash-dotted lines indicate that the parameters are based on the year 2016's average, year 2016's best, and year 2020's best conditions, respectively.)

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Fig. 2

Schematic of a flow battery system

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Fig. 3

Past technological development trajectory [49,5860,6774] of (a) iron–chromium flow battery (from 1978 to 2016); (b) all-vanadium redox flow battery (from 1975 to 2016); (c) zinc–bromine (from 1977 to 2015); and (d) bromine–polysulfide flow battery (from 2004 to 2014). HKUST and NASA are abbreviations for Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the U.S., respectively.

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Fig. 4

Cost breakdown of flow battery systems (sized at 25 kW/50 kWh; capital cost only; “average,” “best,” and “projected” denote the average-, best-, and projected-case scenarios, respectively; error bars represent one standard deviation above and below the mean; values smaller than one are not marked.)

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Fig. 5

Levelized storage cost at varying energy-to-power ratios (average-case scenario; DESS and T&D denote the distributed energy storage system and transmission and distribution system, respectively; the full definitions and descriptions of the plotted applications can be found in Ref. [13].)

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Fig. 6

Cost reduction (comparing the costs under the average- and projected-case scenarios) contribution of various technological improvements and material cost reductions: (a) at energy-to-power ratio of 0.25 and (b) at energy-to-power ratio of 2

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