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Electrolysis-Based Energy Storage in Development in Japan

With the instability of energy production from renewable sources being a major problem, the storage of energy is becoming increasingly important. It is currently a very hot topic around the world, attracting investors and scientists alike, and all advancements in the field are being met with great intrigue.

A team based at the Kyushu University’s International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research in Japan, has managed to create an energy storing device in chemical form through electrolysis (the process of passing a current through ionic substances to decompose them into simpler substances). Until now, hydrogen has been the most popular choice when exploring chemical storing, but the researchers in Japan discovered that glycolic acid has a much greater energy capacity. The acid, which can be produced from a form of oxalic acid, can be used to devise an electrolytic cell based on a membrane-electrode assembly, sandwiched between which are an anode and a titanium cathode.

In practise, this means that whilst most electrolyses dealing with liquids produce a batch-type process, the team’s electrolysed does not. Instead, it creates a continuous flow by putting the electrolyte in direct contact with electrodes, simultaneously eliminating any impurities.

Miho Yamauchi, who is the co-author of the study, sees much promise in the work: “We calculate that the maximum volumetric energy capacity of the glycol acid solution is around 50 times that of hydrogen gas. To be clear, the energy efficiency, as opposed to capacity, still lags behind other technologies. However, this is a promising first step to a new method for storing excess current.”

The requirement for a high-functioning energy storage solution is a universal one, and we, at Dashboard, are excited to see how the electrolysis-powered storage will influence the industry landscape. Depending on other factors, it could prove to be a suitable alternative for powering IoT devices. To this end, we will be following the team’s progress with great interest.