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Active One-to-One Research Projects

Mechanical Engineering

Development of a Non-Aqueous Vanadium Redox Flow Battery with Improved Electrolytes and Electrodes

Shao Horn
Professor Yang Shao-Horn

Professor Saif Saeed Al Mheiri
PI at Masdar Institute


One of the biggest challenges to renewable power sources, such as solar and wind, is the integration with the electric grid due to the intermittency in the power produced. Therefore, electrochemical energy storage solutions, such as flow batteries, are an essential component in the development of solar plants and wind farms. Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs) are an attractive storage solution due to the rapid reaction kinetics in these systems and the decoupled nature of energy and power ratings.
A major disadvantage to RFBs, however, is the use of aqueous electrolytes that hold the electroactive species. This imposes two limitations: first, the operating temperature range for RFBs is limited by the temperature in which water is in liquid form (0 – 100 degrees C). Second, the open circuit voltage is limited to about 1.2V because at such potential the aqueous electrolytes are electrochemically stable. This limitation results in limiting the energy density of RFBs. Another drawback of using water is that achieving long term cycling of the aqueous electrolytes is challenging due to the possibility of electrolyzing the solvent; i.e. water.

Given the above constraints, this project intends to explore using non-aqueous solvents instead of water.The ultimate goal is to develop a novel non-aqueous Vanadium RFB (VRB) system with higher conductivity, better solubility limits, and stable electrodes. Designing advanced electrodes with improved kinetics and stability will be part of the project. Finally, this project intends to build a working flow battery cell and check the stability and cyclability of the entire system.


This project uses advanced design and material development which is the vision of the Institute Center for Energy (iEnergy) at the Masdar Institute. In addition, the project is relevant to the MENA region as Abu Dhabi is becoming a major hub for clean and alternative power sources and this work is directed toward solving the problem of power intermittency in order to have a sustainable supply of power.