New battery chemistries

With R&D in full swing to develop new battery technologies, there are numerous press releases about alternate chemistry and systems. Here are just some.

Many times new battery technologies are about changing the composition of the anode (usually graphite) or cathode technologies (lithium). Rare earth elements (ready more) maybe incorporated as well.

A full list of about 70 is found on Wikipedia

Vanadium Flow Batteries

Vanadium Redox Flow batteries are a good option for stationary battery storage but are not suited to EVs. 

  • VRFBs have a lifespan of 20+ years
  • VRFBs can discharge 100%, without any damage to the battery
  • VRFBs are non-flammable
  • Vanadium electrolyte can be re-used and does not need to be disposed of
  • The batteries can be cycled more than once per day
  • They use only one element in electrolyte – V2O5

Most of the global demand for Vanadium is in steel making such as making rebar stronger. Vanadium is most often co-produced out of the slag in steel refining, and 72% of 2020 global supply comes as coproduced by steel mills. 18% comes from direct extraction, and 10% recycled out of oil refineries. China is the world’s top vanadium producer, accounting for 60% of global vanadium supply in 2020. Most of its vanadium was derived from co-production. Russia is the second-largest producer and South Africa the third-largest, accounting for 17% and 7% of 20201 supply, respectively. (BushVeld Minerals

Often high purity alumina 4N HPA used in clean energy and high technology applications are associated with V resources. 

There is no existing vanadium mined in Australia, but Australia’s Queensland Government has approved the development of Multicom Resources (‘ $183.23m (A$250m) Saint Elmo project, the state’s first vanadium mine, at Julia Creek. 

If Redox flow batteries get traction in grid storage, Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) demand is projected to be 36ktpa in 2030, equating to ~23% of the vanadium market.

Australian ASX junior minor stocks have pivoted from copper to vanadium and changed their names. They include King River Resources (ASX:KRR), previously King River Copper in the Tenant Creek area, , Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) which has flatlined for 5 years,  and Vanadium Resources (ASX:VR8), previously Tando Resources,  a junior vanadium developer who owns 74% of the world class, tier 1, Steelpoortdrift Vanadium licensed mining project in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The Steelpoortdrift titaniferous magnetite deposit is located in the prolific Bushveld Geological Complex within a known mineral and vanadium producing area within reach of proven processing plants, railway and road options and ports. The Steelpoortdrift mining project is the world’s largest vanadium deposit with an indicated and inferred JORC resource of 612 Mt @ 0.78%  V2O5 in situ, incl. 167 Mt @ 1.07%  V2O5 with an in-magnetite grade of c. 2.2%  V2O50

Zinc bromide batteries

  • Large
  • Non-perishable storage batteries
  • Used for Energy storage at lower costs than lithium ion and other batteries

Hydrogen bromine (HBr) flow batteries

  • HBr serves as electrolyte
  • Low-cost advantage

Grid-Scale Batteries

There are not many grid-scale batteries around the globe, although there are many battery manufacturers. But the grid-scale batteries have 2 components.

  • Modular battery – that can be scaled
  • Control system that manages the charging and discharge, frequency etc.

Manufacturers of Systems

This list can be added to as suppliers enter the market. For the top 50 in the USA, check out this site. In Australia the main players are:

  • Tesla – use Megapacks which are normally based on the 2170 batteries
  • Doosan – from Korea. Unclear which batteries but their software is at Doosan Energy
  • RedFlow Cell – Australia.

ABB has a good dataset of new battery technologies (Full Report Here)

There are other startup companies and University based research announcements. From lab to production is costly in time and money.

CompanyDetailsBattery Type
Solid PowerInvestment, from Ford, BMW, Hyundai, Daimler, SamsungSolid State
Quantum Scape$300m investment from VW. Claims a battery that can charge to 80% in 15 mins.Solid State
BlueSolutionsInvestment from DaimlerSolid State
InnolithEnergy density of 1000 Wh/kg,Lithium-ion
Ionic Materials$65m investment from Renault-Nissan MitsubishiSolid State
Libtec consortiumHonda, Nissan, Toyota, PanasonicSolid State
ProLogiumEnovateSolid State
SVOLT Solid State
AMTE Power Silicon anode
Enovix Silicon anode
Enevate Silicon anode
Hibar SystemsAcquired by TeslaLithium-ion
Sila NanotechnologySilicon anode
OXIS EnergyLithium-S
Métalectrique Research & Development (MAL)LG Chem, Sanyo, Johnson Matthey, the UK MoD (DSTL) and Southampton UniversityAluminium Air
Maxwell TechnologiesAcquired by Tesla, Maxwell is a specialist in ultra-capacitors and Tesla is interested in its dry electrode / solid state batteriesLithium-ion, Solid State
NanoGrafGraphene anode manufacturerLithium-ion
Kreisel ElectricCollaboration with ShellLithium-ion
QuantumScapeRecently listed on the stock exchange and partnering with VWSolid state
DysonDyson continues with investment in solid state technology despite abandoning its EV car project.Solid state
SESSolid state
StoreDotCollaboration with EVE Energy. Daimler, BP, Samsung and TDK have investedSilicon anode
FoxconnLimited production by 2024Solid state
ToyotaLimited production by 2024Solid state

Battery Technology Announcements

There are so many announcements of improvements it can be confusing. The route from research to production is very slow and only some of the technology makes it to the end.

  • Researchers at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) have developed an approach to anode fabrication that could lead to extremely fast-charging lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). The group used poly (benzimidazole), a bio-based polymer that can be synthesized from raw materials of biological origin as the precursor material for the anode. They achieved very fast charging (XFC) 18.6 A g−1 and had minimal degradation over 3000 cycles (Mining.com) with over 90% charge retention.

Pumped Hydro

Short-term off-river pumped hydro energy storage (“STORES”) sites require pairs of reservoirs at different altitudes, typically ranging from 10 hectares to 100 hectares, in hilly terrain and joined by a pipe with a pump and turbine. Water is pumped uphill when wind and solar energy is plentiful, and electricity is available on demand by releasing the stored water through a turbine. Pumped hydro simply relies on gravity and water and does the opposite of existing hydro electric power stations. Sometimes the water turbines and generators are specialised to have bi-directional, and sometimes different mechanical systems – one for hydro generation and one for using electricity to pump back uphill. New ones are likely to be a single unit.

In a study from Australia National University in 2017 lead researcher Professor Andrew Blakers said the short-term off-river pumped hydro energy storage (STORES) sites combined had a potential storage capacity of 67,000 Gigawatt-hours (GWh) – much more than the capacity required for a zero-emissions grid. “Australia needs only a tiny fraction of these sites for pumped hydro storage – about 450 GWh of storage – to support a 100 per cent renewable electricity system,” said Professor Blakers from the ANU Research School of Engineering.

Australian Sites

StateApproximate sites Approximate energy storage (GWh) Head* (metres)  
NSW/ACT8,60029,000300 
Victoria4,40011,000300 
Tasmania2,0506,000300 
Queensland1,7707,000300 
South Australia185500300 
Western Australia3,8009,000200 
Northern Territory1,5505,000200 
TOTAL22,00067,000
From ANU https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/anu-finds-22000-potential-pumped-hydro-sites-in-australia
How to Improve Pumped Hydro Storage Efficiency
Pumped Hydro image

Compressed Air Batteries

Compressed air storage works on a similar theme to pumped hydro, using times of low prices to “charge up” and store significant amounts of energy. Instead of using water, rare in remote areas, it compresses air in suitable caverns, the type that can be found in old mines. One company, Hydrostor’s has A-CAES technology and claims to be able to deliver vast amounts of storage – in the case of the Broken Hill project in Australia up to 1,500MWh – enough to supply the town for days or even weeks.

Hydrostor announced in Jan 2022 it had secured a preferred equity financing commitment of $US250 million from Goldman Sachs for over 1.1GW, 8.7GWh of Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) projects in Australia and California.

Hydrostor's advanced compressed air energy storage (A-CAES) pilot plant in Ontario, Canada
Image from Hydrostore https://newatlas.com/energy/hydrostor-compressed-air-energy-storage/

Heavy Blocks

Energy Vault is the first off the blocks and funded via a SPAC and plan to build made from recycled and locally sourced materials such as waste mining material blocks and use gravity / kinetic energy. Inspired by pumped hydro, but minimal capital cost and automation provides the operation.

Energy Vault completed mechanical construction of the first of its kind, grid-scale unit located in Switzerland (Ticino). This commercial-scale system a 1:4 scale pilot system built and operated in 2018, where all core technology elements were tested and validated. The CDU is connected to the Swiss national utility grid and is being utilized for continued testing and software commissioning.

The Energy Vault system goes from fully charged (left) to empty (right)
Heavy blocks – 30 tonnes each from Energy Vault https://www.energyvault.com/

Saltwater Redox Batteries

There have been announcements but unclear if they have progressed. Ewe Gasspeicher’ss GMBh battery, called brine4power, is based on a system developed by the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, which uses saltwater electrolytes with recyclable polymers as the active molecules. Those materials, the team says, are far more environmentally friendly than the heavy metal/sulfuric acid mix that other redox flow electrolytes are often made of.

The brine4power system was to be set up in the Jemgum gas storage facility to make use of two huge underground salt caverns, which are currently used to store natural gas. Each of these cavities has a volume of 100,000 m3 (3.5 million cu ft), giving the battery a capacity of up to 700 MWh and output of up to 120 MW.

Ocean Pumped Hydro

Ocean Grazer has developed a proof of concept pumped hydro, modular that fits on and under the seafloor making it ideal for offshore windfarms. It uses a clean water reservoir and a bladder system with the pump / generator connecting the two. To store energy, the system pumps water from the rigid reservoirs into the flexible bladders on the seabed. Now the energy is stored as potential energy in the form of water under high pressure. When there is demand for power, water flows back from the flexible bladders to the low-pressure rigid reservoirs. Driving multiple hydro turbines to generate electricity.

They envisage these to be paired with each wind turbine and provide 80% efficiency.

Illustration from Ocean Grazer.
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