Low-cost, high-energy batteries powered by rhubarb

Flow batteries, a type of rechargeable fuel cell using chemical compounds dissolved in liquids, have seen some of the biggest advances …

The (new) research holds the promise of sharply reduced costs, with … the family of molecules used – known as quinones – were sourced from crude oil, the material could as easily have been sourced from rhubarb or most other green plants, Professor Aziz said.

Unlike lithium, for instance, there is little chance the batteries will ignite. “Our molecules are deliberately dissolved in water, so they don’t catch fire,” he said.

The work, funded by the US government, is likely to result in a three-year extension to develop a commercial technology. The aim is to produce a battery capable of storing 24 kilowatt-hours of energy – the equivalent output of a typical roof-top solar photovoltaic array over 8 hours – before scaling up to much larger units.