New generation of electricity storage

Landshut University of Applied Sciences wants to promote the energy revolution with low-cost and environmentally friendly energy storage systems – and strengthen Germany's position as a business location compared to low-wage countries as a result.

80 percent of the energy used in Germany is to come from regenerative sources by 2050. One central pillar of this required energy revolution is safe, affordable and environmentally compatible storage technologies to compensate for inconsistencies in energy production. As part of the FERRUM project, Landshut University of Applied Sciences is now conducting research together with the VoltStorage company on a new generation of electricity storage systems for private use in single and multi-family homes based on iron redox flow technology (IRFB). Compared to the widely used lithium-ion technology, this is much more environmentally friendly and cost-effective and therefore clearly superior to all other storage technologies from a sustainability perspective. The research project at Landshut University of Applied is being funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) with more than 186,000 euros. The project is headed by Prof. Karl-Heinz Pettinger, research director at the Landshut University of Applied Sciences Energy Technology Centre (TZE).

Advantages for households, companies and Germany as a business location

"Both homeowners and companies and housing associations could benefit from the new technology," explains Pettinger, "and at the same time, Germany could assume a key position here as a business location and be able to compete with low-wage countries such as China, for example." The first step for the research team is to develop a storage system with a capacity of eight kilowatt hours. This should fit into any home or be installed outdoors and be fully compatible with renewable energy systems such as solar power or wind turbines. During the course of the project, the scientists will build this system as a prototype and evaluate it. The final goal is to create a storage system with a capacity of 50 kilowatt hours, which will be used as a commercial and industrial storage facility for SMEs, apartment buildings and utilities. ?

More sustainable and less expensive than other technologies

One crucial advantage of the IRFB technology compared to the previously widespread electricity storage systems is that the materials required for production are environmentally friendly, cost-effective and widely available within Germany or the EU. "As a result, no toxic, flammable materials or materials harmful to the environment or water are used for production and operation – in contrast to lithium-ion batteries, which are associated with ecological and political disadvantages," says Pettinger. In addition, IRFB technology could reduce the costs by up to half compared to the batteries currently available.

The goal is a marketable product

The reason why this technology has not been transferred to a marketable battery system yet, despite its unbeatable advantages, is that the energy efficiency and long-term stability have been too low so far. The FERRUM project now wants to overcome these technological obstacles and develop a marketable storage system based on IRFB. The researchers' ultimate goal is a system with a capacity of 50 kWh that is fully cascadable and therefore suitable for all possible applications for the intermediate storage of renewable energies or for relieving the load on the electricity grids.

Expertise already exists at the Energy TC

The researchers can build on the existing expertise in the field of energy storage. For example, the two research assistants for the research project Christina Zugschwert and Saskia Dinter have been working intensively on future energy storage at the Energy TC in recent years. At the same time, they were also involved in the establishment of the cross-border research platform FSTORE, where battery manufacturers, grid operators and researchers from all over Europe exchange information on redox flow technology.

About the project

The "FERRUM – All-Iron Redox-Flow Battery as an Environmentally Friendly and Cost-effective Energy Storage System" project will run until the end of February 2022 and is being carried out by Landshut University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the VoltStorage company at the Energy Technology Centre in Ruhstorf an der Rott. The project is headed by Prof. Karl-Heinz Pettinger. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is responsible for funding.

Photos: Landshut University of Applied Sciences

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Project name:

All-Iron Redox-Flow Battery as an Environmentally Friendly and Cost-effective Energy Storage System (FERRUM)

Project duration:

01.03.2020-28.02.2022

Project partners:

Landshut University of Applied Sciences Energy Technology Centre

VoltStorage GmbH

Overall project management:

Prof. Karl-Heinz Pettinger

Landshut University of Applied Sciences funding:

EUR 186,599

Funding:

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

Programme:

"Central Innovation Programme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)" funding programme