A new breakthrough in battery technology could allow flow batteries to last up to a decade with minimal upkeep. By using neutral PH water as one of the primary components, these newer batteries would also be virtually nontoxic, which means that if they leak, there is no concern about acid burning your skin or damaging any property.
What is a Flow Battery?
A flow battery is a type of rechargeable battery where rechargeability is provided by two chemical components dissolved in liquids contained within the system and most commonly separated by a membrane. This technology is akin to both a fuel cell and a battery – where liquid energy sources are tapped to create electricity and are able to be recharged within the same system.
One of the biggest advantages of flow batteries is that they can be almost instantly recharged by replacing the electrolyte liquid, while simultaneously recovering the spent material for re-energization. SOURCE: EnergyStorage.org
While most batteries run into issues after a certain number of charges and discharges, these water based batteries have only a 1% of loss of efficiency after a decades worth of typical charge and discharge cycles. These could be a big advance for those who need to use battery storage for solar, wind, or other systems, especially while living off grid.
Another benefit is that if these types of batteries can be mass produced, they could help drive the cost of alternative energy even lower, and given that the cost of wind and solar are already reaching or even falling below the costs of more traditional forms of energy, it would make it more expensive to use fossil fuels in many power applications. Making off grid living more affordable, less toxic, and less corrosive with more advanced batteries is a hurdle that it appears we now have the technology to clear.
For more details, see the official press release here: Press release on new Flow Battery Technology