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A Sustainable Solution for New Zealand’s Energy Landscape

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Associate Professor of Physical and Chemical Sciences at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha, the University of Canterbury (UC) Deborah Crittenden believes that high-performance organic batteries can be reached to support in realms of renewable energy.

This research focuses on enhancing the energy density of current redox-flow batteries by utilising affordable and abundant organic materials in room-temperature molten salts. This advancement aims to make redox-flow batteries a viable substitute for conventional lead acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries currently employed in electric vehicles.

According to her, redox-flow batteries, which utilise liquid electrolytes instead of degradable solid electrodes, maintain their charge capacity even after several years of use, comparable to when they are brand new. These batteries are expected to match lithium-ion batteries in terms of energy density and voltage.

Furthermore, their liquid energy storage components allow for instant refilling and recharging. At the same time, their sustainable and recyclable materials contribute to significantly lower environmental impacts compared to other batteries in the market.

Redox-flow batteries have the potential to substitute lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles (EVs). This scenario envisions a future where EV drivers can conveniently refill their vehicles with charged battery fluid at stations instead of waiting at charging stations. The station operator can then recharge the used battery fluid, making it ready for the next vehicle.

Associate Professor Crittenden envisions a future where organic batteries play a transformative role in Aotearoa, New Zealand’s energy landscape. With their cost-effectiveness and environmental consciousness, these batteries have the potential to revolutionise the storage of energy harnessed from rooftop solar panels. Organic batteries offer a sustainable solution that aligns with the country’s commitment to renewable energy by replacing traditional lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries.

On a larger scale, these batteries could address the challenge of storing energy generated from renewable sources, such as wind and solar farms, and facilitate their integration into the national grid.

As New Zealand strives to achieve its ambitious climate change goals, including 100% renewable electricity generation by 2035 and carbon neutrality by 2050, adopting organic batteries becomes pivotal. Their ability to store and deliver energy efficiency could be the key to unlocking the full potential of renewable resources and ensuring a sustainable and resilient energy future for the nation.

The global energy storage market is expected to surge beyond USD$200 billion by the end of this decade as countries worldwide focus on harnessing more renewable power sources for electricity generation. In this context, New Zealand can position itself as a pioneer in grid-scale energy storage technologies. If the project progresses to the manufacturing stage, it would be strategically advantageous for Aotearoa, New Zealand, to leverage overseas manufacturing facilities while retaining intellectual property ownership. This approach would stimulate the local economy and foster research and development jobs within the country, nurturing a thriving ecosystem of innovation and expertise.

Associate Professor Crittenden suggests that if the project advances to the manufacturing phase, it will benefit New Zealand to leverage overseas manufacturing facilities while retaining intellectual property ownership. This approach would create local research and development employment opportunities within Aotearoa, New Zealand.


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