Vanadium chief backs energy storage

Cynics might say a story that can be boiled down to “Man who runs huge vanadium mine says vanadium is the key to energy storage” is not really news, but we beg to differ. True, Ron MacDonald, executive chairman of American Vanadium, which owns the only vanadium mine in North America,  sees a big opportunity in supplying the market with vanadium-flow batteries.

But in a fascinating interview (below) conducted byMining.com he also highlights the overall importance of energy storage as an essential component to the renewables mix, and quotes a figure of between USD$400 billion and a $1 trillion of global investment predicted for in energy storage between now and 2021.

In fact, from our point of view the interview is yet another sign that understanding of the issues surrounding our sector is expanding rapidly, and that can only be a good sign for the future.

A new type of vanadium redox flow batteries

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a US government facility, claims to have developed new batteries that have significantly enhanced storage compared with that of conventional vanadium redox units. In addition to boosting energy density, the new batteries can operate across a wider range of temperatures. These improvements are chiefly down to the addition of hydrochloric acid to the electrolyte, which is conventionally just sulphuric acid.

PNNL has licenced the technology to UniEnergy Technologies LLC, which is now developing the tax-payer-funded technology to create a commercially viable solution.