Energy Storage is an overrriding issue towards the massive integration of renewable and fluctuating power. Energy can be stored in many way, also according to the kind of service storage devices are called for. FcLab interests fall into chemical storage of electrical energy, for both short-term and long-term regulation. To this end, electrolysis via high temperature electrolyzers and redox flow batteries are the main topic of investigation.
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Recent developments in high temperature fuel cells increased the interest in high temperature electrolyzer, based in the same technology. In particular Solid Oxide Electrolyzers (SOEs) allow obtaining higher efficiency and power densities compared to alkaline and PEM electrolyzers.
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Research activities is based on experimental results on the operation of SOE varying gas composition, operative temperature and current density operation. Single cells studies permit evaluating long-term operation , while stack experiments mainly regard thermal balance. Studies are in particular dedicated to the hydrogen electrode composition and new strategies for the oxygen electrode. Based on experimental evidence of steam and CO-electrolysis, system design studies are elaborated for innovative energy storage solutions for the production of hydrogen and, subsequently, synthetic fuel mix and blends (i.e. methane and liquid higher hydrocarbons).
Redox Flow Batteries
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The redox flow cell or battery is an electrochemical system that stores energy in two solutions containing different redox couples with electrochemical potentials sufficiently separated from each other to provide an electromotive force to drive the oxidation-reduction reactions needed to charge and discharge the cell. Unlike conventional batteries, the system power and capacity can be independently varied by adjusting the size of the cell stack and the electrolyte volumes. The redox flow cell is therefore more like a rechargeable fuel cell than a battery. The vanadium redox battery pioneered has shown the greatest potential for large-scale energy storage applications with long cycle life and high energy efficiencies of over 80% in large installations (Skyllas-Kazacos, 2004). This battery employs VO2+/VO2+ and V2+/V3+redox couples in sulfuric acid solution as its positive and negative half-cell electrolytes and an ion exchange membrane as its separator. Ion exchange membrane, which separates the positive and negative electrolytes, is a key component of the vanadium redox flow battery.