VSUN tests flow battery technology with standalone EV charger


VSUN Energy, the renewable energy generation and storage subsidiary of Perth-based miner Australian Vanadium Limited (AVL), has completed the first phase of a trial of vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) technology that it said could deliver a truly green charging network for electric vehicles (EVs).

The trial, based at the AVL and VSUN Energy Research and Development Centre in the Perth suburb of Bayswater, tested an AC charger coupled with a 5 kW/30 kWh VRFB powered entirely by a 3 kW rooftop solar PV system.

VSUN business development manager Zamien Sumich said VRFBs were the “missing piece of the renewable energy jigsaw” and the trial opens the way for standalone EV charging stations to be installed anywhere in Australia.

“The VRFB is well suited to the capture and storage of large quantities of renewable energy, enabling stable power output,” he said.

“Vanadium electrolyte doesn’t degrade, meaning that thousands of EV batteries can be charged from the one station.

“The VRFB’s long life, exceeding 20 years, makes it one of the most sustainable and long-lasting ways of storing renewable energy. At the end of the battery’s mechanical life, the vanadium electrolyte can be reused indefinitely.”

The penetration of EVs in Australia lags behind many developed nations with the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) indicating only 6,718 were sold nationally in 2020. That contrasts with China, the world’s largest EV marketplace where 1.3 million vehicles were sold last year.

EVs are however gaining momentum in Australia with new car sales data revealing that 8,868 battery and plug-in EVs were sold in the first half of 2021, which is more than in any calendar year.

AVL managing director Vincent Algar, right, explains the technology to Perth MP Patrick Gorman.

Image: VSUN

The Federal Government has forecast that 30% of new car sales in 2030 will be electric, compared to about 1% at present but Perth-based federal Labor MP Patrick Gorman said the lack of reliable EV charging infrastructure – at departure point, en route and at the destination – has been identified as a sticking point to increased ownership.

“Australia lags well behind the rest of the world when it comes to the uptake of electric cars,” he said.

“This trial is significant in that it removes one of the barriers to the take-up of electric vehicles in Australia – the distance between and availability of charging stations.

“Having a stable renewable energy charging system for electric vehicles will be a big boost for the Australia electric car market.”

VSUN is collaborating with its Singaporean partner V-Flow Tech and Western Australia-headquartered EV charging hardware and software provider Gemtek Goup for the trial.

Gemtek commercial manager Florian Popp said the company has tested a wide variety of power systems with its EV charging technologies and the solar-power VFRB is well suited for Australian conditions.

“The VSUN Energy storage system’s unique capabilities and operating life provide a substantial advantage in high temperature and remote environments,” he said.

VSUN said while the initial trial of the VFRB-based standalone charger had been a success, further installations will require initial testing prior to deployment.

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