The UTRC PureStorage system was selected for a 2013 R&D 100 Award in recognition of its ability to provide safe, energy-efficient, and readily deployable electric energy storage at 5–10 times the power density of conventional flow battery cells.
Various companies in Japan, Germany, and China are already beginning to sell conventional commercial flow battery units – but the advanced PureStorage technology could make flow battery systems even more attractive to utilities around the world for a range of applications.
The PureStorage system is potentially beneficial in regions that experience frequent power outages, since it provides assured backup power. In addition, the system can be used on a daily basis to convert irregular renewable energy sources (e.g. solar and wind) into reliable, 24/7 sources of power.
Furthermore, the battery can be used to significantly reduce a customer’s electricity bills by minimising the amount of power purchased during peak periods, when electric rates are higher and/or demand charges are applied by the local utility.
The product can be sized to suit commercial- to grid-scale applications, and the power output and energy capacity can be tailored independently to match each customer’s specific storage requirements.
UTRC says that this is achieved at approximately half the cost of competitive storage solutions, including lithium-ion batteries, molten-salt batteries, and other flow battery technologies.
Moreover, the PureStorage flow battery system eliminates the negatives of existing electrical-energy storage options that are either geographically limited without scalable options (e.g. pumped hydro and compressed air energy storage, CAES) or are cost-prohibitive at very short discharge times.
The PureStorage flow battery system also provides the flexibility to serve both short-duration/high-power and long-duration/high-energy applications. These important core attributes made this technology all the more compelling to the R&D 100 judging panel.
‘In designing the PureStorage system, we were able to pull from five decades of world-class knowledge in fuel cells, and then innovatively apply our expertise to the three major components of that technology – the flow field, electrodes, and membrane – to dramatically improve performance and reduce cost in a flow battery concept,’ explains Craig Walker, Director of UTC’s Climate, Controls & Security programme office at UTRC.
UTC is working to license UTRC’s PureStorage flow battery technology to strategic manufacturing partners across the globe.