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Prof Marc Pera Titus Redox Flow Batteries

22 June 2022

Solar Panels and Wind Turbines at sunset

A team from the Cardiff School of Chemistry lead by Prof. Marc Pera Titus is one of the groups selected for the UKRI call for “Adventurous ideas to make net zero a reality”. These projects will drive forward the technological advances required to address the pressing climate change emergency highlighted by COP26 and recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Prof. Pera Titus’s group will develop new approaches to Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs) capable of storing large scale electrical power. Their research will be carried out at the University’s new Translational Research Hub which has been designed to provide a home for fundamental research in materials and catalysis with a view to rapid deployment as practical technological solutions.

In 2019 more than half of Wales’s electricity (51%) was generated from renewable resources, with a target of 70% set for 2030. The largest contributions come from onshore wind and PV solar. However, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind varies in energy content so to realise this ambitious sustainable energy future we will need to use storage to smooth out the peaks and troughs in energy generation.

That’s why we need battery storage solutions. At the relatively low level of portable electronics and EV cars the high energy density of Li ion batteries is the current preferred option. But for grid levels of power the cost of the required battery materials and maintenance becomes prohibitive.

Established technology is available to use electrical power to split water (H2O) into oxygen and hydrogen. Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs) use liquid electrochemical cells to store the hydrogen by incorporating it through chemical reactions in the medium of the cell. The cell can then reverse these reactions to regenerate the hydrogen and use it to produce electrical power when it is needed by the grid with zero carbon emissions.

The team aims to develop RFBs that use storage media that does not contain toxic or expensive chemicals, delivering a clean energy source that could also be used to further decarbonise transport by direct delivery of hydrogen.

At the project launch science Minister George Freeman explained:

“Harnessing Science, Technology and innovation is fundamental to achieving clean growth."

“By investing in innovative clean tech projects like those announced today we are supporting both UK research and our global clean tech sector.”

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