Redox Flow Batteries: storable sunshine and reusable rays

Universities and companies from France and Germany have been helping advance innovations in electro-mobility through the cross-border exchange of scientific expertise.

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" The carbon footprint of electric cars with batteries charged via the net from fossil power plants is no better than that of cars with combustion engines. Charging must be from regeneratively created electricity. Storage systems such as the Redox Flow battery are thus essential. "

Professor Hempelmann, Project Coordinator

Researchers under the ERDF-funded ‘RFB Solar’ project developed a prototype known as the ‘Redox Flow’ battery, which is used for medium-term storage of solar electricity. Extremely relevant for the electro-mobility sector, these batteries are highly efficient and more durable than conventional ones.

Top tier scientific institutes

In order to develop the prototype, the project team first established a cross-border network of scientists and SMEs specialised in solar energy in Lorraine, France and Saarland, Germany. At the project’s centre and where much of the research was carried out, were two renowned scientific institutes: ‘The Transfer Centre Nano-electrochemistry’ at the University of Saarland and the ‘Laboratoire de Chimie Physique et Microbiologie pour l'Environnement’ at the Université de Lorraine. A competence network was also established to ensure the inter-regional exchange of experience between academia and industry. 

In addition to developing the prototype, the team also raised awareness of this cutting-edge technology and e-mobility in general by launching a demonstration device: a solar battery powered rickshaw. According to the researchers, the battery of this vehicle is not directly loaded with solar electricity, but by an intermediate external Redox Flow battery. 

Research continuing

The project finished in June 2015 and according to the project coordinator, the team has made good progress towards having a final commercialised product ready for the market. However, more R&D is required, which is currently being undertaken by a BMWi-supported ‘successor project’, involving several partners including a manufacturer of Redox Flow batteries.

The project created and maintained three jobs.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the “Redox Flow Batteries as sun-energy storage devices for electromobility” project is EUR 1 132 777, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 566 388 from the Operational Programme INTERREG IVA “Grande Région” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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