HBr Flow Battery - Grid and Renewable Integration

A Hydrogen Bromine Flow Battery is rechargeable and reacts liquid bromine with hydrogen gas to generate electricity. The battery has no membrane which is the most expensive component of fuel cells and other batteries as it relies on laminar flow to separate the two materials which reduces cost and increases battery lifetime.

The Duck Curve

California is leading the way in utilizing renewable resources and setting environmental standards for the world to follow. The efforts have created challenges for traditional power generators since renewables produce during certain times of the day. Industry has expressed this strife as the "duck curve" showing the demand changes throughout the day where renewable production pushes utility production downward during the day and then they must ramp up production within the final three hours of the day and into the night.

With the limitations of renewables operating at night, industry is looking towards storage to solve the disparity between supply and demand. Flow batteries seem to be the best candidate for grid storage as they can quickly cycle through charging and discharge.

Energy Storage

HBr Flow Batteries can store electrical energy with very little degradation over time. The systems can scale between very small to very large by changing tank sizes. The greater amounts of electrolyte allow for greater storage.

Load Balancing

HBr Flow Batteries are the perfect storage mechanism to prepare the grid for peak usage. Integrating the systems in a distributed fashion allows redundancy for the grid on a large scale. Smaller systems can be used at the point of use.

Peak Shaving

HBr Flow Batteries have the best chance in succeeding with the need for peak shaving at the utility itself. Charging when demand is low and discharging when demand is high on a daily basis is possible with the rapid cycling rates.


Systems can store and produce power by inputting hydrogen. This is not possible with other flow batteries or Lithium Ion batteries. Adding a stream of fuel into the capabilities of the HBr Flow Battery adds flexibility to engineered systems.

How they work together.

$500b potential marketplace.


Plasma Reformers + HBr Flow Battery

As shown, while the battery is capable of being recharged on or off grid, a plasma reformer can supply needed hydrogen (from waste fuels like flare gas, landfill gas or methane from sewage) to the flow battery so that it can continuously generate electricity. Using a plasma reformer to clean the waste fuels so that it can be used in a HBr Flow Battery could allow the combustion engine to be sidelined which would alleviate emission concerns in sensitive municipalities. By combining two emerging technologies, HBr Flow Batteries could come out a clear winner by consuming waste fuels and producing power in area where permitting combustion engines have been challenging.

For example:

Wellhead Flare Gas

Instead of emitting methane rich gas into the atmosphere, oil companies burn the waste fuel in a flare stack which causes harmful emissions. Converting the wasted fuel into syngas which can be turned into electricity is a promising compromise.

Landfill Gas

Landfills have been encouraged to "tarp over" the refuse to capture the escaping methane that garbage is known to produce. The incentive comes from being able to burn the gas in a combustion engine and sell electricity back to the grid.

Cow Power

Farms produce manure which turns into methane. A popular method of collecting and digesting the excrement and burning the methane to produce power has come into question for the expensive DeNOx controls that need to be put in place in certain States like California

Industry Moves Forward With HBr Flow Batteries

Bill Gates wrote: "Energy Innovation - Why we need it and how to get it."

He states: "Another promising storage technology that deserves more investment is called a flow battery. Rather than using self-contained cells, as lithium-ion batteries do, flow batteries use a rechargeable liquid electrolyte inside two pairs of tanks-two receiving tanks and two holding tanks. While the battery is being charged, the liquid flows from the receiving tanks to the holding tanks, through a radiator like set of fins that charge the liquid with energy. Energy is released when the liquid flows out of the receiving tanks, back through the fins and into the holding tanks. The tanks could be as small as a fish tank or as large as a swimming pool; the larger the tank, the more energy it would hold." Source

The Haas School of Business of University of California Berkeley wrote: "Hydrogen Bromine Flow Battery for Grid Scale Energy Storage"

They state that there is a rapidly growing need for storage due to renewable energy production and the variability of it, gigawatt changes can happen in minutes. They believe that the HBr Flow Battery is the solution for the low cost to operate coupled with distinct technological advantages. They believe the quickest entry into the market is with grid reliability then renewable integration and then into all other markets. They estimate that in 20+ years, HBr Flow Batteries could be a $300 BILLION market in the United States alone. Source

Enfuro Ventures and KIC InnoEnergy Invest Into Elestor

Elestor invented a battery system that stores electricity for one-fifth of the cost of conventional batteries. Enfuro Ventures and KIC InnoEnergy invested into the company to bring these products to market. These investments prove the viability of the technology and offers a rapid path forward to bring useful applications into the marketplace. Their first field test is on track for mid-2016 with full commercialization in 2018.

The Elestor flow battery enables low cost energy storage. It combines low cost components with battery electrolyte/electrode materials and a unique high-pressure hydrogen fuel anode sub-system, to form to a system that outperforms f.i. all-vanadium flow battery systems by a factor of four.

About the Author

Daniel Wells received International recognition after being awarded the "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" Award from the Department of Energy and by winning the CTSI Defense Energy Technology 2012 Challenge by developing an energy positive emission control system including HC, CO, PM and NOx reduction.

Daniel is available to work on your technology and/or project! Please contact him at (541) 646-4586 to discuss your goals.

Copyright Daniel Wells 2015.