Sustainable ecological vanillin batteries
Stefan Spirk from the Graz Institute for Biologics and Paper Technology reports “revolutionary success in the field of sustainable energy storage technologies”. His research team has found a way to use the flavoring substance vanillin, which comes from vanilla, as a green energy storage device.
According to the results of current research, vanillin, the main flavoring substance in vanilla, is suitable for the ecological storage of electricity. (Image: New Africa / stock.adobe.com)
Researchers at TU Graz have discovered that the flavoring substance vanillin can be used as an active electrolytic redox material for liquid batteries. This knowledge is the basis for the development of sustainable and ecological electricity storage. The research results were recently presented in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.
What is a redox flow battery?
A redox flow battery, also known as a liquid battery or a wet cell, is a battery that stores electrical energy in chemical compounds. This requires two reaction partners that circulate in separate circuits in the battery. The reaction between the substances then takes place at a desired point, releasing electrical energy.
Advantages and disadvantages of redox flow batteries
Due to its design, this type of accumulator is more suitable for large consumers. So far, there are only redox flow batteries containing complex and unsustainable reaction partners such as vanadium, polysulfide, bromine, zinc or uranium. Compared to lithium-ion batteries, flow redox batteries are more easily upgradeable, less toxic, more recyclable and more flame retardant. They are also characterized by long service life and low self-discharge.
The vanilla battery
The team around research leader Spirk has now created the basis for making these redox flow batteries more environmentally friendly. Instead of dangerous heavy metals and rare earths, the Austrian task force version contains only conventional, environmentally friendly vanillin, as it is used for baking and baking.
How can vanillin be used to store energy?
Researchers have found a way to use green, soft chemistry to refine vanillin into a redox-active material so that it can replace heavy metals and rare earths in a flux battery. The team’s plan is to extract vanillin from the natural substance lignin, which is stored in the walls of plant cells and thus causes the cell to lignify. Lignin is produced in large quantities as waste in papermaking.
In an upcoming project, the research team would like to bring commercially usable vanillin batteries to market. “The plan is to hook up our system to a pulp mill and isolate the vanillin from the lignin that remains as waste,” says Spirk. With this process, the entire production chain, from the supply of raw materials and components to the production of electricity, can remain regional.
Where can the batteries be used?
Vanillin batteries can provide storage capacities of up to 800 megawatt hours and thus “relieve the electricity grid and make a significant contribution to the energy transition”, continues Spirk. It is conceivable, for example, to use it as an electricity storage device for wind and solar energy or as a backup storage device for power plants, hospitals, mobile radio systems, electronic filling stations or similar installations. (v)
Author and source information
This text conforms to the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Graduate Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
Werner Schlemmer, Philipp Nothdurft, Alina Petzold, among others: 2 – Vanillin methoxyhydroquinone for aqueous redox – Flow coils; in: Angewandte Chemie, 2020, onlinelibrary.wiley.comTU Graz: Green energy storage from vanillin (published: October 1, 2020), tugraz.at
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.