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Harvard's battery tech takes cues from vitamin B2

Engadget Engadget 19/07/2016 Mariella Moon
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A team of Harvard scientists on a quest to find an organic molecule that can be used to make non-toxic, low cost flow batteries found their answer in vitamin B2. By making just a couple of tweaks to riboflavin's original molecule, which converts carbs to fuel in our bodies, they were able to design one that can be used to store energy harnessed by solar and wind sources. The same team previously worked on a battery that uses a type of organic molecule called quinones and ferrocyanide (a food additive) instead of typical electrolyte. They decided to find other molecules that could lead to a version with better capacity, however, and were inspired by B2's capabilities.

Kaixiang Lin, a team member and one of the study's authors, said they considered "about a million different quinones" but ended up developing a whole new class of electrolyte material. He also added that it's simple to make and can be manufactured in large quantities for cheap. Flow batteries store energy in solutions kept in tanks, you see. The bigger the tank, the larger the amount of energy it can hold, so this molecule could lead to high-capacity batteries. Lin and his fellow researchers plan to study their creation more closely, but they're also still on the lookout for other organic molecules that can outperform it.

Harvard, Nature Energy

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