Ana awarded a Faraday Institution SEED project to investigate 3D printed electrodes for redox flow batteries

A diagram of a redox flow battery. Credit: Ana Sobrido

Queen Mary’s Dr Ana Jorge Sobrido will lead a project to overcome engineering issues that are currently preventing the wide-spread adoption of redox flow batteries (RFBs).

RFBs are emerging as a crucial technology for the transition to renewable energy, since their large capacity can help to stabilise energy grids and store energy from intermittent sources such as wind.

Researchers will combine two flexible, scalable manufacturing methods – 3D printing and electrospinning – to develop an innovative concept of 3D electrodes that will enable optimised mass transport and electrochemical properties. This will be validated by testing a prototype vanadium RFB.

Dr Sobrido, Associate Professor in the School of Engineering and Materials Science, said, “I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded this Seeds Project funded by the Faraday Institution to investigate 3D porous electrodes for redox flow batteries. With collaborators from the UK and from Canada, I will combine the benefits of bespoke 3D-printed electrode engineering with tuneable surface properties of high surface area electrospun fibres. This will produce controlled microstructural properties that can optimise mass transport through the electrode, and enable increased surface area over commercial carbon felts. This project represents a fantastic opportunity to advance the field of redox flow batteries and I am grateful to the Faraday Institution for their support.”

Dr Sobrido expects that the materials developed could also find be useful in other battery technologies, fuel cells and electrolysers where engineered electrode structures would have mass transport performance benefits.

Professor Pam Thomas, CEO of the Faraday Institution, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that with the launch of this project that QMUL has joined the Faraday Institution research community. The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage research, skills development, market analysis, and early-stage commercialisation. It brings together research scientists and industry partners on projects with commercial potential that will reduce battery cost, weight, and volume; improve performance and reliability, and develop whole-life strategies including recycling and reuse. The Faraday Institution now has 27 university partners and 500+ researchers looking to address these challenges – very much a national programme.”

The award is one of 16 small, fast-paced, focused projects in areas not covered within the Faraday Institution’s existing battery research portfolio. In total, 14 universities are involved with the seed projects, which will run for 12 months and represent a £2 million investment in research by the Faraday Institution. The funding round was highly competitive; it was oversubscribed by four times.

Linh passes her PhD viva!

Congratulations to Linh for passing her PhD viva on the 12th July 2022. Linh’s PhD thesis studied NiFe LDH on electrospun fibres as freestanding oxygen electrocatalysts. Well done Linh! Thanks to Frank Marken (Bath University) and Lauri King (Machester Metropolitan) for their time and effort in promoting great discussion!

UK RFB Network Annual Meeting hosted at Queen Mary University of London

The 6th Annual Meeting of the UK Redox Flow Battery Network (UKRFBN) took place on the 11th July 2022. This year the event was held at Queen Mary University of London and hosted by Ana Jorge Sobrido, who is an active member of the UKRFBN Committee.

Around 80 people registered for this hybrid event, with 45 people attending in person. Keynote talks from industry (Shell and RFC Power) gave a great overview of the potential of redox flow batteries moving forward and their role in decarbonising our energy supply.

PhD students and postdocs had the opportunity to present their work in flow batteries with their talks and also in the poster session.

Ana participates in the EPSRC workshop on the Future of Fundamental Electrochemistry in the UK – 7th-8th July 2022

Organised by Prof Dryfe (University of Manchester), Prof Katherine Holt (University College London), Dr Mark Symes (University of Glasgow) and Dr Upul Wijayantha (Loughborough University), this stimulating event gathered around 40 academics from UK institutions working on topics with a significant electrochemistry component to debate current challenges of the area and discuss potential solutions.

The workshop was held in beautiful Gregynog Hall in mid Wales. Actions will follow to create a UK Electrochemistry Hub and unite practices and standards in the different areas underpinning electrochemistry.

Szymon passes his PhD viva – 28th June 2022

Many congratulations to Szymon who passed his PhD viva with minor corrections! Szymon’s PhD thesis studied cobalt-based oxygen electrocatalysts. A lot of struggle along the way, but well done Szymon! And thanks so much to Caroline Knapp (UCL Chemistry) and Mike Reece (Queen Mary) for taking the time to read his thesis and being such good examiners, too!

Festival of Communities – June 2022

The group had a fantastic time at the Festival of Communities, held at QMUL Mile End Campus on the 12th June 2022. Our stand ReCharge showcased the world of batteries and how to use sustainable resources to produce sustainable devices. People attending were able to light an LED building a lemon battery, also understand a bit about what a redox flow battery is. We showed how candyfloss is somewhat similar to the process we use to produce our fibres from biomass that will then become electrodes for batteries! The little ones had lots of fun with the giant jenga we built following the paper by E. Driscoll from Birmingham. It was a great success!

Thanks Hattie, Eneith, Pavel, Szymon, Michael, Jesus and Mauricio for all your efforts in making it possible!