Towards enabling ultralow cost grid storage, we demonstrate an ambient-temperature aqueous rechargeable flow battery that uses low-cost polysulfide chemistry in conjunction with lithium or sodium as the working ion, and an air-breathing cathode. Four different laboratory cell constructions are used to test the half-cell and full-cell reactions, including a pumped air-breathing cell that exhibits stable room-temperature cycling over 960h with a lithium polysulfide anolyte and dissolved lithium sulfate catholyte. In this approach the solution energy density is 30-150 Wh/L, which exceeds current solution-based flow batteries, and the chemical cost of stored energy is exceptionally low, especially when using sodium polysulfide (~1 US$/kWh). Results of techno-economic modeling are also presented, which show that when projected to full system-level, this new approach has energy and power costs that are comparable to those of pumped hydroelectric storage (PHS) and underground compressed air energy storage (CAES), but without their geographical and environmental constraints.
This work was supported as part of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, an Energy Innovation Hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences.