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ESS Makes 12+ Hour Flow Battery For Sustainable Energy Storage

The siren call of the flow battery has lured many a renewable energy researcher with its promise of large scale, long duration energy storage. In contrast to conventional battery arrays that pour out the juice for four hours or so, flow batteries can store a day’s worth of wind or solar power. That kind of long duration output is something that the US Department of Energy has been dreaming about, and with that in mind let’s take a look at the flow battery specialist ESS Inc.

Even though the previous administration professed a love for all things fossil, the US Department of Energy has been holding the torch for energy storage and renewable energy all throughout the past four years. That includes a focus on flow batteries and other forms of long duration energy storage, and now it looks like all that hard work is about to pay off.

Flow batteries work through the magic that happens when two specialized liquids flow adjacent to each other, separated only by a thin membrane (or not, as the case may be). Scaling is simply a matter of building larger (or smaller) tanks to keep the liquids apart until needed.

So, what’s holding things up? Cost is one key factor. The Energy Department has tapped various federal labs and private companies to help push down the cost of flow batteries, and it looks like earth-abundant, low-cost, non-toxic iron has been tasked with the heavy lifting.

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