Published on 14th April 2022
With the increase in variable renewable energy (solar and wind power) penetration globally, long-duration energy storage (LDES) solutions will be essential in meeting the decarbonization goals, grid efficiency, and reliability needs.
Among various technologies, flow battery technology is a highly flexible, reliable, and safe long-duration energy storage solution.
Also known as redox (reduction-oxidation) batteries, flow batteries are increasingly being used in LDES deployments due to their relatively lower levelized cost of storage (LCOS), safety and reliability, among other benefits.
What is a flow battery made of? Who makes flow batteries? Keep reading to learn more about our top 10 picks for flow battery companies.
An Introduction to Flow Batteries
Top 10 Flow Battery Companies
Vanadium Redox Flow Battery vs. Iron Flow Battery
Blackridge Research & Consulting – Global Flow Battery Market Report
What is a flow battery? A flow battery is an electrochemical cell that converts chemical energy into electrical energy as a result of ion exchange across an ion-selective membrane that separates two liquid electrolytes stored in separate tanks. Typical flow battery chemistries include all vanadium, iron-chromium, zinc-bromine, zinc-cerium, and zinc-ion. However, current commercial flow batteries are based on vanadium- and zinc-based flow battery chemistries.
Vanadium’s unique ability to exist in four states of oxidation makes it a preferred material in a flow battery’s reduction and oxidation processes.
While a traditional redox flow battery uses metal ions for the electrolyte, an organic flow battery uses naturally abundant elements like carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen to store and release energy. Apart from the fully recyclable organic electrolyte, a uniquely scalable design makes an organic flow battery more efficient and sustainable for bulk storage applications.
Flow batteries offer several advantages, such as:
As a rechargeable battery, a flow battery leverages the charging and discharging processes that allow selected ions to pass and complete chemical reactions in a constant “flow.”
Here is how a flow battery works:
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) was one of the major battery chemistries used for electrified transportation and stationary storage. While time-tested lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion batteries) are believed to account for more than 80% of grid-scale energy storage, the biggest issue is the extremely low duration of stored electricity that can be fed back to the power grid.
Furthermore, fire risk, performance degradation, recycling challenges and other factors limit the application of lithium-ion batteries.
As investors start looking for energy storage solutions not constrained by supply shortages and price volatility, future-ready ESS (energy storage systems) flow batteries unlock new opportunities in energy storage.
Moreover, flow battery systems meet environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards and are, therefore, positioned to effectively reduce environmental contamination.
In recent times, global-scale flow battery technology adoption is closely linked with the surging energy storage market. Flow batteries help create a more stable grid and reduce grid congestion and fill renewable energy production shortfalls for asset owners.
Global R&D is fueling the development of flow battery chemistry by significantly enabling higher energy density electrodes and also extending flow battery applications.
For example, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL) redox flow laboratories conduct fundamental research and test large-scale battery stacks under various real grid application conditions to optimize redox flow battery efficiency.
Now that we got to know flow batteries better, let us look at the top 10 flow battery companies (listed in alphabetical order):
Location: Wiener Neudorf, Austria
The Austrian company Enerox GmbH is the manufacturer and distributor of vanadium redox flow batteries under the brand name “CellCube.” CellCube is one of the leading companies in long-term energy storage solutions.
CellCube provides high-quality, cost-efficient on- and off-grid redox flow battery solutions to meet the global demand for energy storage infrastructure. CellCube has an outstanding reputation for realizing the highest number of flow battery projects in the industry.
South African vanadium company Bushveld Minerals has invested in Enerox to scale up sales and manufacturing capacity against the backdrop of the fast-growing demand for long-duration energy storage solutions.
The CellCube system meets the most stringent safety standards and is ideal for different applications—from micro-grid and off-grid storage to the integration of renewable energy at various grid levels.
CellCube is one of the leading choices for multi-hour storage systems. In a stringent endurance test over many years, the key components of the CellCube system went through over 10,000 cycles without interruption—demonstrating robust performance even under the most demanding circumstances.
Location: Wilsonville, Oregon, United States
Established in 2011, ESS designs, builds, and deploys long-duration and low-cost iron flow batteries for commercial and utility-scale energy storage applications. In 2019, ESS Inc. raised USD 30 million in a major Series C round funding from the investor group Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and SoftBank Group’s SB Energy.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures is led by investors comprising Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Mukesh Ambani, and Richard Branson, among others.
Using abundantly available iron, salt, and water for the electrolyte, the company’s Energy Warehouse™ and Energy Center™ represent more flexible and non-lithium-ion storage that delivers top-tier performance with minimal environmental impact.
What are the ESS advantages?
Location: St. Helier, Jersey
North America’s Avalon Battery and British company redT energy merged to form “Invinity Energy Systems”—a leading global vanadium flow battery company that specializes in utility-grade energy storage for commercial & industrial (C&I), grid-scale, and micro-grid applications.
Being non-flammable and safe by design, the factory-built and tested vanadium flow batteries provide long-term flexibility and reliability.
As several commercial and industrial businesses around the world unlock low-cost, low-carbon, and ROI-maximizing energy, Invinity batteries act as an ideal complement to photovoltaic (PV) systems, with significant benefits like improved resilience, increased operational freedom, and reduced electricity costs.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
As one of the world’s leading vanadium companies, Largo provides innovative energy solutions for a low-carbon future. Largo sources its VPURE™ and VPURE+™ Flakes from the highest-grade vanadium deposits at the company’s Maracás Menchen Mine in Brazil. Largo’s VCHARGE products support grid stability and reliability as electricity systems gradually move away from fossil-fuel generation to lower the carbon footprint.
The company produces industry-preferred vanadium products, such as vanadium pentoxide flakes and vanadium pentoxide powder that are ideal for use in master alloying, catalyst and steel applications, vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs), and other applications.
In addition, Largo Resources launched Largo Clean Energy to provide vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) systems to the rapidly growing renewable energy storage market. The newly launched company acquired the assets, including 12 patent families previously owned by the U.S. storage specialist VionX Energy—a manufacturer of power and energy storage products.
This acquisition marks a new beginning in the renewable energy storage business that continues to attract disruptive innovators with proven commercial and operational capabilities.
Location: Bethesda, Maryland, United States
Humble beginnings made by Glenn L. Martin and the Lockheed brothers, Allan and Malcolm Lockheed, more than 100 years ago have transformed into a rich innovation legacy over the years.
Lockheed Martin has come a long way to establish an enviable repository of capabilities, including advanced manufacturing, energy storage, electronic warfare, and integrated air and missile defense.
The company has set a new standard in long-duration, large-capacity energy storage with GridStar® Flow—an innovative redox flow battery that is optimized for 6+ hours of flexible discharge and ideal for multiple applications, such as:
What are the benefits of GridStar® Flow?
Location: Hayward, California, United States
Primus Power Solutions provides low-cost, fade-free, and long-duration energy storage systems to commercial, industrial, renewables, and utilities markets. In an energy-optimizing world, it is crucial to balance grid and power fluctuations and ensure a stable, reliable supply of energy.
Keeping up with the demand for long-duration batteries to reduce outages and satisfy peak power needs, the company’s award-winning EnergyPod 2 ensures multiple hours of battery power (20-year life) without degradation and minimizes expensive utility upgrades on overloaded substations.
EnergyPod 2 presents superior energy capacity with a stable zinc-bromine flow battery (ZBFB), exceptional cell architecture and flow architecture, and an industry-leading LCOS.
Moreover, EnergyPod 2’s optimized design eliminates life-limiting battery components, including complex plumbing, graphite electrodes, and membranes/separators. Fire concerns? Not at all!
Location: Freudenstadt, Germany
With over 155 years of company history, the SCHMID Group is well known for innovative energy storage systems and industrial machinery manufacturing with manufacturing sites in China, Germany, Turkey, the USA, and worldwide sales and service locations.
The SCHMID EverFlow® energy storage solution is based on the advanced vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) technology to provide the best efficiency possible.
VRFB-based SCHMID energy systems provide decisive benefits, including:
Location: Osaka, Japan
With a 120+ history of manufacturing innovation, Sumitomo Electric operates in five business segments, including automotive, infocommunications, electronics, environment and energy, and industrial materials.
The company provides various battery-based services to consumers, electric power companies, power retailers, and renewable energy producers. What makes Sumitomo Electric’s redox flow battery unique?
Location: Mukilteo, Washington, United States
UniEnergy Technologies (UET) is well known for ReFlex™ batteries for 100 kW to 10 MW smart grid and renewable storage. The industrial-grade batteries are flexible, resilient, and safe. What are the main advantages of using UET’s ReFlex™ batteries?
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
A company that is recognized globally for vanadium redox battery (VRB) technology is VRB Energy—majority-owned by Ivanhoe Electric, a subsidiary of I-Pulse. VRB Energy is credited with developing the world’s longest-lasting vanadium flow battery.
VRB Energy’s products are reliable, recyclable, safe, and scalable. What makes them different from other battery systems?
Also known as the vanadium flow battery (VFB) or the vanadium redox battery (VRB), the vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) has vanadium ions as charge carriers. Due to their relative bulkiness, vanadium flow batteries are mainly used for grid energy storage.
The vanadium redox flow chemistry consists of vanadium redox couples (V2+/V3+ in the negative and V4+/V5+ in the positive half-cells) as active chemical species of the redox flow battery.
During the charging and discharging processes, H+ ions get exchanged between the two electrolyte tanks through a hydrogen-ion permeable polymer membrane.
On the other hand, an iron flow battery uses electrolytes made up of iron salts in an ionized form. As iron flow batteries consist of earth-abundant and non-toxic materials, they are environmentally friendly, safe, and one of the most reliable electrochemical energy storage devices.
Battery manufacturers are collaborating with utility companies to implement iron flow battery projects with the aim of eliminating a majority of the diesel-fueled power generation with the environmentally friendly flow battery system.
Furthermore, iron flow batteries have a longer asset life than Li-ion batteries. Unlike conventional battery chemistry with limited cycle life (7 to 10 years with a need for augmentation), iron flow battery chemistry such as that of ESS lasts 20 years or more without any capacity fade or degradation.
Do you want to know the market share and ranking of top flow battery companies? Blackridge Research & Consulting’s global flow battery market report is what you need for a comprehensive analysis of the key industry players and the current global and regional market demand scenarios.
You will find actionable insights into the flow battery market based on geography, technology, and end-use segmentation, market trends, fastest-growing segments, and much more.
Furthermore, the report closely examines the competitive landscape, important commercial developments, drivers, restraints, regional trends influencing the market demand and growth, etc.
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Worldwide renewable energy installation is increasing with a focus on the clean energy transition. How can we meet the ever-growing energy demand and make the transition at scale?
We can achieve realistic and relevant outcomes by adopting clean technology (cleantech) and incentivizing the development and commercialization of long-duration energy storage solutions.
As a flexible, reliable, and lower LCOS alternative to other battery chemistries, flow batteries are safe and sustainable. Already, flow battery applications are going well beyond the traditional grid-scale usage.
Compared to lead-acid, lithium-ion, or solid-state batteries, flow batteries are a potentially better substitute due to the easy replaceability of the liquid electrolyte. However, there is a need to scale up production and develop manufacturing synergy to reduce the component and material costs.
The flow battery market is expected to grow significantly as the share of renewables is bound to increase in the primary energy mix. Despite the higher CapEx cost in contrast to lithium-ion batteries, flow batteries are expected to be used extensively for both front-of-the-meter and behind-the-meter applications in the next several years.
Flow batteries have an edge when it comes to powering the world with clean and cost-effective battery technology—flow battery companies are surely going to lead the way.