Success Story

Advanced Battery Stores Renewable Energy, Improves Grid Reliability

Low-cost, large-scale energy storage is a priority not only for integrating renewable energy like wind and solar into the electrical grid but also to improve the reliability of the nation’s power grid. Experts consider a type of battery called redox flow batteries the most promising option; however, operational challenges and high cost have impeded widespread adoption.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL) redox flow battery technology increased the batteries’ energy density by 70 percent, expanded the operational temperature range by 80 percent, and reduced the overall system cost by nearly 40 percent for an 8-hour energy storage system.

PNNL negotiated licenses with five commercial partners, an achievement that won a national Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer in 2013 and a Deals of Distinction Award from the Licensing Executives Society the same year. One of the licensees, UniEnergy, launched its first product in 2014. At a press conference featuring UniEnergy’s and utilities’ roles in Washington State’s Clean Energy Fund, Governor Jay Inslee called the PNNL-developed battery system “world-class technology that is going to put renewable energy to work.” UniEnergy has already created 45 jobs.

DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability funded the research and development for the advanced battery. UniEnergy benefitted from PNNL’s Technology Assistance Program, which provided a week of technical assistance at no cost to the company. Another licensee, Aartha USA, is collaborating directly with PNNL to customize the technology for its use.