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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

Metal-free redox flow batteries for the storage of renewable energies. (BAT-LIMET)

Lead Researcher:
Cristina Flox Donoso

Research Centre:
Fundación Instituto de Investigación en Energía de Cataluña (IREC). Barcelona.

Cristina Flox DonosoGiven the exhaustion of traditional non-renewable energy sources, the competitiveness of energy storage systems has become especially socio-economically important for the coming years in Europe. Redox flow batteries (RFB) are a highly appealing and promising technology for this as they offer advantages such as modularity, fast response time, energy decoupling and power. Nevertheless, current RFB are restricted by the rarity and costs of redox-active substances.

This project has the goal of overcoming these barriers by developing a prototype second-generation RFB (RFB2), based on the use of nano-structured electrode materials and organic electrolytes composed of natural redox-active p-aromatic molecules. The innovative design of RFB2 uses electrolytes that are "green, ecological and inexhaustible", and which are not subject to geopolitical batteries, with the following advantages:

  • i) Easily scaleable using abundant and cheap materials.
  • ii) Faster kinetics.
  • iii) Higher stability with low trans-membrane ion "intercrossing".
  • iv) High energy density.
  • v) The solubility and potential of redox-active substances by means of introducing functional groups in the π-aromatic system.

In addition, the aim is to develop in-situ diagnosis and prognosis strategies to monitor interphase evolution and detect fault mechanisms. This will evaluate their ageing and estimate component lifetimes. Lastly, a demonstration phase will validate the prototype RFB2 as an efficient and low cost system for inclusion in a smart grid.

Researcher's web address:

Cristina Flox Donoso

She graduated in Chemistry (2002) from the University of Castile-La Mancha (Ciudad Real) and gained her Doctorate (2008) with European Mention in the University of Barcelona. Her doctoral thesis was written under the direction of Prof. Enric Brillas in the "Laboratori d'Electroquímica dels Materials i del Medi Ambient", on the study of advanced electrochemical oxidisation processes of persistent organic pollutants in water. During this stage she developed a flow device at pilot plant scale to apply advanced oxidisation processes (AOPs), including electro-Fenton, photoelectro-Fenton and solar photo-Fenton. Subsequently (2008-2010), she made postdoctoral visits to technology centres such as AIICA and LEITAT, thanks to a Torres Quevedo contract from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain. During this time she investigated several processes for bioremediation, nanofiltration and electrodialysis on a semi-industrial scale. On 17 June 2010 she started work in the "Institut de Recerca de Energia de Catalunya" (Barcelona) with the aim of developing flow electrochemical energy storage devices such as vanadium redox flow batteries, as well as new concept batteries such as semi-solid lithium ion batteries and sodium ion and super-condenser.

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