A new type of energy storage platform was put to work at the University of Sydney last night by Gelion Technologies.
A Gelion Endure battery is providing energy storage for a solar powered mobile light tower at the University and over the next year other towers will be rolled out across the campus.
Gelion Technologies, spun-out of the University, is led by Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, winner of the 2018 Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science. Professor Maschmeyer believes the Gelion Endure will be a serious challenger for lithium-ion batteries.
The technology is based on zinc-bromine, which traditionally has been used in flow batteries. In terms of home solar storage, the only commercially available zinc-bromine battery on the market currently is Redflow’s Zcell, specifications of which are listed on SQ’s solar battery comparison table.
The big difference with Gelion Endure is that it’s a non-flow battery that uses, as the name suggests, a gel approach.
Professor Maschmeyer says it’s not economical to produce the amount of lithium-ion batteries that will be required as the world moves towards a renewable energy future and zinc is 9 times cheaper per electron transfer than lithium (but there’s a lot more to a battery than just these materials).
Cheaper, Safer, Easier To Scale
Cheaper, safer and using readily available materials – these are the major attributes that put Gelion technology ahead of lithium-ion says the professor. The battery doesn’t require active cooling, can be discharged 100% and its electrode surfaces can be rejuvenated remotely without the need for on-site servicing. As well as being non-flammable, the gel has proven to be a fire retardant in a laboratory setting.
Gelion Endure will have applications for micro devices through to home, commercial and utility-scale energy storage.
“One of the really cool things about the gel approach is that I can go from a capacitive type performance to very fast power discharge to very slow and steady discharge, based on thickness of the gel,” says Professor Maschmeyer.
Professor Maschmeyer states Gelion Technologies has hit its milestones 14 months early and is in discussions with construction companies with view to the company’s technology being used in building-integrated energy storage.
According to RenewEconomy, the company expects to be mass producing batteries for applications ranging from residential to grid at a cost of below $100/kWh by the end of 2021.
In terms of its home energy storage product, it will be interesting to see if Gelion is able to match the size of the ZCell for the same capacity.
Companies can tend to be a little optimistic when forecasting capabilities, costs and market releases of products still being developed. But it’s great to see technology of Australian origin creating excitement in the energy storage sector – here’s hoping it delivers.