Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries, (VRB), are rapidly gaining traction as a solution for large scale energy storage and for other niches where energy storage is required. The fuel that drives these batteries is vanadium electrolyte. A solution made from vanadium pentoxide dissolved in water and sulphuric acid.
Australian Vanadium Limited (AVL) has installed and commissioned a pilot electrolyte plant at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Company personnel have successfully operated the pilot plant to produce vanadium electrolyte suitable for use in VRB.
The pilot plant is being used to test and verify the production of vanadium electrolyte products that are suitable for use in third party VRB. Initially plans are to supply vanadium electrolyte to VRB being sold in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Asia. However, AVL has also been approached by battery manufacturers in Europe who are seeking long term electrolyte supplies.
The pilot plant is located within the Molecular and Chemical Sciences building at the UWA. Installing the pilot plant at a university provides a cost-effective solution for the AVL and represents an excellent opportunity for collaboration between the commercial and educational fields in this technology space. It is envisaged that researchers and students at the university will have the opportunity to assist with and learn about the processes required, providing commercial knowledge application within an educational setting. The university offers state of the art analytical equipment and itself is accredited with decades of theoretical and research knowledge.
The installation of the pilot plant has enabled AVL to develop vanadium electrolyte production expertise and capability within Australia. The company’s aim is to develop both stand-alone and mine-attached vanadium electrolyte production capacity.
AVL’s Managing Director, Vincent Algar is keen to be able to create more jobs within Australia and to help build manufacturing and engineering capabilities and capacities, “We have a perfect opportunity to become world leaders in this space. We have the mineral resources, we have the skills and our economy needs these types of projects. Having our own commercial scale vanadium electrolyte production capacity will allow us to ensure that this technology becomes even more cost effective and keeps the value of the commodity in our country’.
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