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Prussian Blue Dye Batteries

Alveo Energy

Open Framework Electrode Batteries for Cost-Effective Stationary Storage

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$4,599,814
Location: 
Palo Alto, CA
Project Term: 
02/21/2013 to 03/31/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Our national electric grid has limited ability to store excess energy, so electricity must constantly be over-generated to assure reliable supply. Though wind and solar power are promising clean alternatives to fossil fuels, their natural unpredictability and intermittency make them incapable of delivering the power on-demand necessary to operate today's grid. The U.S. needs technologies that can cost-effectively store renewable energy for future grid use at any location. Flexible, large-scale storage would create a stronger and more robust electric grid by enabling renewables to contribute to reliable power generation.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

Alveo is developing a grid-scale storage battery using Prussian Blue dye as the active material within the battery. Prussian Blue is most commonly known for its application in blueprint documents, but it can also hold electric charge. Though it provides only modest energy density, Prussian Blue is so readily available and inexpensive that it could provide a cost-effective and sustainable storage solution for years to come. Alveo will repurpose this inexpensive dye for a new battery that is far cheaper and less sensitive to temperature, air, and other external factors than comparable systems. This will help to facilitate the adoption and deployment of renewable energy technology. Alveo's Prussian Blue dye-based grid-scale storage batteries would be safe and reliable, have long operational lifetime, and be cheaper to produce than any existing battery technology.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, Alveo's grid-scale storage battery would provide inexpensive, durable, high-power energy storage to help facilitate the widespread deployment of clean, renewable energy.

Security: 

A more efficient and reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions.

Environment: 

Electricity generation accounts for over 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Enabling large-scale contributions of wind and solar power for our electricity generation would result in a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions.

Economy: 

Increases in the availability of wind and solar power would reduce fossil fuel demand, resulting in reduced fuel prices and more stable electricity rates.

Innovation Update: 

(As of August 2016)
Alveo Energy has developed a storage battery using Prussian Blue dye as the active material, which is most commonly used in blueprints. Since the conclusion of its ARPA-E award, Alveo has received follow-on funding from a number of venture capital firms, including Khosla Ventures, NanoDimension, and Fluxus Ventures. Alveo is still in the development phase for its first commercial battery cells and has potential customers with high interest in back-up power. Alveo’s breakthrough low-cost cycle life technology has multiple applications in renewable power integration scenarios and start/stop for electrified transportation.

To create its battery storage solution, Alveo developed an open framework cathode material based on Prussian Blue and developed an anode based on a similar crystal structure. The anode-cathode combination was designed and demonstrated to have an average cell voltage high enough for practical commercial pack systems. The team implemented this in a substantially aqueous cell to provide intrinsic safety. Alveo carried out extensive charge/discharge testing of the system components and demonstrated that the cells have a high power capability for large form factor production cells – higher than present commercial Li-ion power cells at a fraction of the cost. The team was also able to overcome the problem of active material dissolution and instability in purely aqueous electrolytes by developing a novel nonflammable aqueous organic electrolyte, achieving industry-leading calendar and cycle life. The battery developed by Alveo has a useful combination of attributes, including extremely long cycle life (projecting to greater than 30,000 cycles), high power, low capital cost, and fundamental safety. The trade-off for this is a moderate energy density (50 Wh/L), which makes this technology most suitable for grid-scale energy storage and backup power.

For a detailed assessment of the Alveo team's project and impact, please click here.


Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik
Project Contact: 
Dr. Colin Wessells
Release Date: 
11/28/2012