Chemours Company, an American chemistry firm has teamed up with Washington-headquartered redox flow battery manufacturer UniEnergy Technology (UET) with an eye on increasing flow battery technology uptake in the market.
While there are a range of energy storage technologies trying to fill the gap left by the variability of power generation from wind and solar power, Chemours believes that flow batteries are the key, hence its interest in UET's redox flow battery, which is based on a third generation, patented electrolyte developed at Pacific Northwest National Labs. Flow batteries are said to maintain full storage capacity over 20 years while offering scalability and improved safety profile as compared to some other more widely used storage technologies.
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Under the new partnership, Chemours is investing in UET and has signed a long-term and exclusive supply agreement for Nafion ion exchange membranes, a product produced by Chemours that can work together with a fully recyclable electrolyte in flow batteries. The firm hopes to optimise its Nafion product and help flow batteries to become more competitive in the market.
Chemours, which is a leader in fluoroproducts, also understands that the demand for fluoropolymers in the renewable energy and energy storage spaces is projected to grow by 20% over the next decade.
“A major component of our growth strategy is shifting from a product orientation to a more market orientation,” said Paul Kirsch, president of Chemours' Fluoroproducts business. “We believe this strategic partnership allows us to be at the forefront of this new energy storage technology and provides us greater insight into the needs of this emerging market from the end user perspective.”
UET's technology is already being used in significant projects, For example, the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has called for greater investment in flow batteries and set up programmes to develop vast projects in excess of 100MW capacity each. One such project already underway is a 200MW / 800MWh vanadium energy storage project in Dalian Province, by Chinese system manufacturer Rongke Power and UET.
Japanese financial services company Orix Corporation also invested in UET back in 2015.