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13 June 2018

Imperial dispatches RFC Power

New spinout RFC Power believes it has found a more cost-effective solution for large-capacity flow batteries used for power grid balancing and standalone plants.

Author: Callum Cyrus, reporter

Imperial College London unveiled a new UK-based battery developer called RFC Power yesterday to commercialise technology that improves electricity storage for distribution grids and isolated power plants.

The company, which holds three patents, was launched by Imperial Innovations, the tech transfer affiliate of Imperial College London now owned by commercialisation firm IP Group.

RFC Power is developing a rechargeable large-capacity flow battery that could last longer than today’s models and reduce costs for electricity production firms.

Flow batteries are generally used to balance electricity loads on distribution grids and to provide storage for standalone power plants such as wind or solar farms.

The technology exploits an electrolyte based on the chemical manganese, which it regards as lower cost and more abundant in supply than conventional alternatives such as lithium and vanadium. RFC Power claims an early prototype of its battery demonstrated comparable energy efficiency to existing models.

RFC Power is based on research led by Nigel Brandon, the dean of Imperial’s Faculty of Engineering, and Anthony Kucernak, a professor of physical chemistry in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the same university.

The spinout was formed under Imperial’s Founders Choice program, which offers academics increased equity in exchange for pared down tech transfer support.

RFC hopes to develop its first commercial batteries by 2020, initially targeting small off-grid wind and solar plants before progressing onto the development of larger flow batteries for on-grid applications and megawatt-scale wind or solar farms.

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