Renewable hydrogen generation from a dual-circuit redox flow battery†
Redox flow batteries (RFBs) are particularly well suited for storing the intermittent excess supply of renewable electricity, so-called “junk” electricity. Conventional RFBs are charged and discharged electrochemically, with electricity stored as chemical energy in the electrolytes. In the RFB system reported here, the electrolytes are conventionally charged but are then chemically discharged over catalytic beds in separate external circuits. The catalytic reaction of particular interest generates hydrogen gas as secondary energy storage. For demonstration, indirect water electrolysis was performed generating hydrogen and oxygen in separate catalytic reactions. The electrolyte containing V(II) was chemically discharged through proton reduction to hydrogen on a molybdenum carbide catalyst, whereas the electrolyte comprising Ce(IV) was similarly discharged in the oxidation of water to oxygen on a ruthenium dioxide catalyst. This approach is designed to complement electrochemical energy storage and may circumvent the low energy density of RFBs especially as hydrogen can be produced continuously whilst the RFB is charging.