Optimization for Redox Flow Battery Design

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Article Mass Transport Optimization for Redox Flow Battery Design Nicholas Gurieff 1, Declan Finn Keogh 1, Mark Baldry 2,3, Victoria Timchenko 1, Donna Green 4, Ilpo Koskinen 5 and Chris Menictas 1,* 1 School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia; n.gurieff@unsw.edu.au (N.G.); d.keogh@unsw.edu.au (D.F.K.); v.timchenko@unsw.edu.au (V.T.) 2 School of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; mark.baldry@sydney.edu.au 3 School of Physics, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia 4 Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia; donna.green@unsw.edu.au 5 Design Next, UNSW, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia; ilpo.koskinen@unsw.edu.au * Correspondence: c.menictas@unsw.edu.au; Tel.: +61-2-9385-6269 Received: 14 February 2020; Accepted: 15 April 2020; Published: 17 April 2020 Featured Application: The wedge-shaped cells with static mixers simulated in this research can be applied to innovative high-performance toroidal vanadium redox flow battery (VRB/VRFB) designs for commercial development in public settings/urban environments. Abstract: The world is moving to the next phase of the energy transition with high penetrations of renewable energy. Flexible and scalable redox flow battery (RFB) technology is expected to play an important role in ensuring electricity network security and reliability. Innovations continue to enhance their value by reducing parasitic losses and maximizing available energy over broader operating conditions. Simulations of vanadium redox flow battery (VRB/VRFB) cells were conducted using a validated COMSOL Multiphysics model. Cell designs are developed to reduce losses from pump energy while improving the delivery of active species where required. The combination of wedge-shaped cells with static mixers is found to improve performance by reducing differential pressure and concentration overpotential. Higher electrode compression at the outlet optimises material properties through the cell, while the mixer mitigates concentration gradients across the cell. Simulations show a 12% lower pressure drop across the cell and a 2% lower charge voltage for improved energy efficiency. Wedge-shaped cells are shown to offer extended capacity during cycling. The prototype mixers are fabricated using additive manufacturing for further studies. Toroidal battery designs incorporating these innovations at the kW scale are developed through inter-disciplinary collaboration and rendered using computer aided design (CAD). Keywords: vanadium redox flow battery; power density; limiting current; cell geometry; mass transfer; electrolyte mixing; static mixer; industrial design; multidisciplinary research; energy transitions 1. Introduction The transformation of our energy systems including generation, distribution and storage is rapidly underway around the world. This process requires the ability to intelligently manage electricity supply and demand via digital smart grids. Power networks will need to manage existing requirements, new demands such as electric vehicles, and an increase in variable asynchronous generation. A key enabler of this development will be large-scale energy storage, particularly batteries [1]. Amongst commercially available technologies, redox flow batteries (RFBs) stand out with their inherent technical advantages: long lifetimes, recyclable materials, non-flammable Appl. Sci. 2020, 10, 2801; doi:10.3390/app10082801 www.mdpi.com/journal/applsci

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