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  • Writer's pictureKristin Cooper

Flow Battery Systems Manufacturing FOA

Submission Deadline for Concept Papers: 04/29/2021 5:00pm ET

Submission Deadline for Full Applications: 06/30/2021 5:00pm ET

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in electric vehicles (EVs) and portable devices for various applications, flow batteries are particularly well-suited for grid storage needs. The unique architecture of flow batteries, consisting of electrochemical cell stacks, storage tanks, and flow systems, make it possible to decouple power and energy, offering great system flexibility (i.e., simplifying the adjustment of the system size to meet the ever-changing demands). Flow batteries provide excellent operational lifetimes on the timescale of grid needs (e.g., over 10,000 cycles and 20 years lifetime for 2030), flexible modular design, and scalability to fit a wide range of power and duration specifications. In addition, they have much lower safety risks than other battery technologies. Flow batteries generally have, for example, low flammability in short-circuit conditions.9 Flow batteries can also be made using a by-product of steel manufacturing, such as for an iron sulfate-based system, potentially allowing a reduction in cost and supporting a circular economy

While flow battery technologies have shown great potential, technical and manufacturing challenges regarding scale-up and performance still prevent them from achieving cost targets and commercial viability.2,11 The level of manufacturing capability for flow battery systems is currently insufficient to meet the expected demand for stationary grid storage. Manufacturers in this area are still primarily in the prototype phases and not ready for full commercialization due to a number of issues, such as difficulty in achieving efficient industrial-scale manufacturing and lack of a well-established infrastructure that connects manufacturers and supply chains. These and other factors contribute to a prohibitively high cost for the overall systems.

The ability to manufacture flow battery systems of sufficient size is required in order to meet the expected demand for stationary grid storage. The current sizes of flow battery cells, in which the most advanced materials and components have been demonstrated, are orders of magnitude below system sizes relevant for commercial use. Typical energy storage system sizes for grid applications are in the range of MW capacities, requiring hundreds of kilograms of electrolytes and system components that are of appropriate size to cycle that volume of liquid. Thus, there is a need for production facilities capable of manufacturing large volumes of electrolytes and corresponding large sized battery system components to provide the capacity to meet the projected energy storage demand.

More importantly, disparity between Technology Readiness Level (TRL), Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL),14 and the supply chain’s preparedness for scale-up is still problematic in flow battery manufacturing. Despite the higher TRL of vanadium-based systems, for example, their MRL and supply chain ecosystem are still nascent due to the small number of global (and domestic) manufacturers, price volatility of vanadium, and high cost of certain critical components. While newer non-vanadium redox systems have shown sufficient performance, industrial-scale manufacturing methods and basic supply chains for materials, components, subsystems, and integrated systems have not yet been developed.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) aims to improve domestic flow battery systems’ manufacturing and validate as well as deepen the understanding of potential opportunities for increasing manufacturability for the energy storage community in general. Specifically, this FOA will advance the manufacturability of mid-sized flow battery systems to strengthen the domestic supply chain for flow battery technologies, focusing on specific technical barriers in specific components combined with an aim towards system integration. Desired projects will be expected to address gaps and challenges in energy storage manufacturing to:

• Enable cost-effective and scale-up of flow battery manufacturing;

• Test and validate manufacturing processes by producing a prototype flow battery system with industrially scalable processes; and

• Strengthen the domestic flow battery manufacturing ecosystem that connects the battery manufacturing stakeholders, ranging from materials and equipment suppliers to component/system manufacturers.

Estimated Funding EERE expects to make a total of approximately $20,000,000 of federal funding available for new awards under this FOA, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. EERE anticipates making approximately 4 to 6 awards under this FOA.

EERE may issue one, multiple, or no awards. Individual awards may vary between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000.

Please contact us for a free review of your project concept.

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