Could flow batteries back up electric grids?

03/25/2013 | New Scientist

An onion farm in Oxnard, Calif., is using a flow battery to supply 600 kilowatts of electricity over a six-hour period, saving the farm substantial amounts of money. To power flow batteries, two aqueous electrolytes held in different tanks are pumped through a membrane into a separate chamber, causing a chemical reaction that produces electrons. Flow batteries may be more cost-effective in the long run and safer to manage than lithium-ion batteries, they're also expensive and difficult to maintain. However, manufacturers are confident that with additional testing, they'll be able to soon introduce them to the mainstream.

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