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Protean tests vanadium battery

Protean Energy's V-KOR vanadium redox flow battery

Protean Energy has installed a vanadium battery for a four-month trial

Australian energy technology company Protean Energy has shipped its first V-KOR vanadium redox flow battery to Perth to begin trials.

Vanadium batteries are an alternative to more traditional batteries offered on current markets, such as lithium-ion batteries.

The V-KOR is able to store electricity for longer than existing batteries, and has a greater life expectancy as well.

The 25-kW (100-kWh) V-KOR battery was delivered to OzLinc Industries’ industrial manufacturing site in O’Connor Perth where it will be deployed for a four-month trial.

The V-KOR trial battery consists of two electrolyte tanks, two battery stacks of 12.5 kW, one 25-kW inverter, associated electrolyte pumps and a power management system.

Protean chairman Bevan Tarratt said: “This trial is about demonstrating the operation of a vanadium redox flow battery to potential Australian clients. We anticipate that the trial will translate to commercial orders for the V-KOR system.”

Flow batteries use two chemicals dissolved in a liquid passing by a membrane. As ions pass through the membrane, electricity is generated. Because vanadium batteries only use the one metal dissolved in an aqueous solution, this makes the batteries non-flammable, and therefore safer than many other batteries available on the market.

After the recent crash of a Tesla in Switzerland started a fire and an earlier crash in California saw the vehicle’s battery reignite multiple times, EVs and the batteries they use are now under scrutiny over their safety.

It may be that consumers and manufacturers start looking at alternative battery types to power EVs in the future.

However, at present, vanadium batteries have a comparatively low energy density, and their aqueous electrolytes make the weight of the battery impractical for EVs.

Still, with battery lifespan, capacity and efficiency being one of the major challenges facing EVs, any progress in battery technology will be worth watching.

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