While countries have been adopting more green energy practices by harnessing solar and wind power, the research in terms of conversion and storage has not yielded desirable results. But now a team of Harvard scientists have created a flow battery from organic compounds that provides not only high performance, but also a low-cost solution to the energy storage problem. Though flow batteries—rechargeable energy units that use chemicals to generate energy—have been in use for long now, Harvard researchers have come up with a way to use the core of riboflavin (vitamin B2)—commonly found in dairy products, corn and bananas—to power batteries.
Two years ago, the same Harvard researchers created the first organic battery from a compound commonly found in rhubarb, a common culinary herb. The advantage with the new compound is that it can be produced with a high yield at room temperature in a rather simple process, from very inexpensive ingredients. The researchers, in a study published in Nature Energy, reported an efficiency of 99.7% and a capacity retention of 99.8%. Once the technology becomes available on a commercial scale it can further the cause of green energy, especially for electric vehicles some of which use flow batteries at the moment.
The only problem for now is that the capacity of the battery is proportional to the size, which may hinder the use of these batteries on a large scale. But more than that, the use of organic compounds to power up devices opens up a new area of research. With more and more uses of organic and biological substances being discovered, hopefully organics can provide solutions to our future needs.