Engineering and the Environment

Research project: Redox flow cells batteries: zinc - cerium

Energy storage is essential in view of the rapidly growing demands for low cost energy based on sustainable resources. Redox flow batteries have the capacity to store the energy generated during periods of larger production and low demand.

Currently Active: Yes

Project Overview


Zinc-cerium redox flow battery prototype


Redox flow batteries (RFB) involve the flow of a liquid electrolyte through an electrochemical cell. The energy is stored in the active materials contained in the electrolytes, normally contained in separate tanks. The electrolyte is pumped through a stack containing a series of single cells with two electrodes each separated by an ion-exchange membrane. The size of the electrolyte storage tanks determines the energy rating while the size of the battery stack determines the power rating of the system. Redox flow batteries often use an ion-exchange membrane similar to that of fuel cells; hence they are called regenerative fuel cells sometimes. Typically power densities are 18 W kg-1 and energy density of 16 W h kg-1, with 70-80% DC-DC efficiency and 65-72% AC-AC efficiency.

Challenges in the zinc-cerium RFB include leakage of species across the ion-exchange membrane causing mixing of the respective active components of the electrolytes, achieve long cycle life and improving energy efficiencies. The formation of zinc dendrites during the charging cycle limits the cycle life to about 1500-2000 cycles.

Related research groups


Publications associated with this project from The University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints):

Key Publications

Arenas-Martinez, L.F., Walsh, F.C. and Ponce de Leon, C. (2015) 3D-printing of Redox flow batteries for energy storage: a rapid prototype laboratory cell. [in special issue: JSS Focus Issue on Printable Functional Materials for Electronics and Energy Applications] ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology, 4, (4), P3080-P3085. (doi:10.1149/2.0141504jss).
Walsh, Frank C., Ponce de Leon, Carlos, Berlouis, Len, Nikiforidis, George, Arenas-Martinez, Luis Fernando, Hodgson, David and Hall, David (2015) The development of Zn–Ce hybrid redox flow batteries for energy storage and their continuing challenges. [in special issue: Metal-Air and Redox Flow Batteries] ChemPlusChem, 80, (2), 288-311. (doi:10.1002/cplu.201402103).
Leung, P.K., Li, Xiaohong, Ponce de Leon, Carlos, Shah, A.A., Berlouis, Leonard, Low, C.T. John and Walsh, Frank C. (2012) Progress in redox flow batteries, remaining challenges and their applications in energy storage. RSC Advances, 2, (27), 10125-0156. (doi:10.1039/c2ra21342g).
Leung, P.K., Ponce de León Albarran, Carlos and Walsh, F.C. (2012) The influence of operational parameters on the performance of an undivided zinc–cerium flow battery. Electrochimica Acta, 80, 7-14. (doi:10.1016/j.electacta.2012.06.074).
Leung, P.K., Ponce de Leon, C., Low, C.T.J., Shah, A.A. and Walsh, F.C. (2011) Characterization of a zinc-cerium flow battery. Journal of Power Sources, 196, (11), 5174-5185. (doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2011.01.095).
Leung, P.K., Ponce de Leon, C. and Walsh, F.C. (2011) An undivided zinc-cerium redox flow battery operating at room temperature. Electrochemistry Communications, 13, (8), 770-7733. (doi:10.1016/j.elecom.2011.04.011).
Leung, P.K., Ponce de Leon, C., Low, C.T.J. and Walsh, F.C. (2011) Ce(III)/Ce(IV) in methanesulfonic acid as the positive half cell of a redox flow battery. Electrochimica Acta, 56, (5), 2145-2153.


Members of staff associated with this project: