Liquid Flow Battery Now Capable of Both Cooling and Powering

Liquid Flow Battery

Scientists from IBM and ETH Zurich University are the first to build a small flow-battery that supplies power and cooling, at the same time, according to an article published in Nature journal in March 2017.

When power is generated, more heat is given out. A similar issue has been faced with powered chips that heat up quickly, giving rise to the creation of a flow battery attempting to solve this issue. The flow battery produces enough energy to power a chip while dispelling more heat than it generates. This results in smaller and more efficient chips which store their own energy.

These Redox-flow batteries make use of liquid electrolytes which are usually used for large scale storage of energy. Recently, researchers from Harvard University, created a battery capable of lasting over ten years with very little degradation, making it suitable to store solar and wind energy.

The team from IBM and ETH Zurich realized that creating a battery similar to that by the Harvard researchers would not be possible for something as small as chips. In order to make the system work, they used two liquids both possessing properties suitable as flow-battery electrolytes and cooling agents.

The team then made use of 3D printing, to develop a wedged micro-channel system for the supply of electrolytes, making use of less pumping power. The electrodes push liquids down the membrane layer where the ions can flow, in turn generating power. This system generates a power of 1.4W per square centimeter, leaving 1W to power the battery after pumping. The plus point is that this process gets rid of much more heat than it uses, making it possible to provide power to the chips, cooling them down at the same time.

This battery still needs to be engineered to generate more heat. Once done, it could be used in the application of lasers for internal cooling and in solar cells for the direct storage of electricity within the battery cells.

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