SABATLE – Safety assessment of flow battery electrolytes
Safe-and-sustainable-by-Design (SaSbD) – Concept
Project Deliverable by BNN
Project: SABATLE (Nano EHS – Project number: 880685)
Date of publication: April 2022
BNN team involvement: Clemens Wolf
BNN’s role was to oversee the development of the SaSbD (now commonly referred to as “SSbD”) concept to inherently improve both the safety of the electrolyte and the sustainability approach throughout the value chain. Based on the European Commission’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, their strategy proposes pathways for 80-100% decarbonization, emphasizing robust electrification through renewable sources. These pathways require a flexible energy system to effectively integrate renewables and ensure security of supply. Key objectives include identifying potential technologies, addressing barriers such as regulations and innovation gaps, and revising policies to facilitate successful market entry of flexibility solutions.
Redox flow batteries, which are emerging for large-scale energy storage to counteract grid fluctuations due to intermittent renewable energy generation, can be part of these needed solutions. These batteries use electrolyte-filled tanks. Where current electrolytes face problems of scarcity, instability, cost, and toxicity, SABATLE was investigating the safety, toxicity, and environmental impact of these newly developed electrolytes from extraction to disposal.
In order to properly address potential safety and relevant sustainability issues and other barriers, BNN’s role was to propose a future-proof safety concept with a balanced approach between Design for Manufacturing and Design for Safety and Sustainability, aiming at the creation of a real-world relevant risk profile for a given material/process. In addition, a life cycle assessment was to be carried out, identifying hotspots along the value chain, and reducing the uncertainty associated with potential hazards. The aim was to maximize safety and sustainability along the entire value chain of the materials used by implementing the SaSbD concept in the innovation and development phases. However, improving the EHS (environmental, health and safety) profile and reducing climate and ecosystem impacts must be balanced with the goal of maximizing function and performance and considering economic viability. All these considerations paired with state-of-the-art literature research resulted in a guiding concept shown below.
The concept presented was used to modify the electrolytes and their processes. The resulting electrolytes were then re-tested and re-evaluated. The results and outcomes were discussed and the further action plan and potential feedback loops were decided by the consortium members. This iterative improvement led to an enhanced design alternative following the proposed concept.
The original deliverable is confidential and can only be viewed by project beneficiaries.Learn more