Monitoring transportation of Flow Batteries
2019-12-16 - Blog
Reduce the risks with the use of a condition monitoring system by detecting Shocks and Impacts in real-time during transportation
A flow battery is an electric storage unit that provides energy by a chemical liquid (electrolyte) process. Flow battery technology provides electrical power using two chemical tanks of liquids separated by electrodes and a membrane. A flow of electric current happens through the membrane as the discreet fluids circulate in their vessels. Flow battery technology was first used in the 1880s but had only been widely used in recent decades.
Store the energy with Flow Battery Energy Storage Systems
The tanks of electrolytes can be configured to store enough electricity to power the electrical needs of thousands of residential houses for several hours. Today most flow batteries are composed of an electrolyte of dissolved liquid such as vanadium. The electrolyte is not flammable but is corrosive. It typically has the properties of an acid-based solution like what is found in standard lead-acid car batteries.
Flow batteries are growing in popularity in energy storage applications for electricity produced by solar and wind power. When wind turbines or solar panels generate electrons, the power is transferred and stored in tanks of electrolytes. As electricity is consumed, the spent electrolyte is pushed back through the system. After this, the electrolyte is recharged and returns to the receptacle tank. Flow batteries are a promising technology due to its scalability. Increasing capacity involves deploying larger tanks and more electrolytes. Flow batteries do not have the same composition of a lead-acid battery and are therefore far less toxic.
The construction of a flow battery is larger and less energy-dense than lithium-ion battery technology. Typically, the components of the flow battery, electrolyte, electrodes, membranes, and all the associated piping and control systems are housed in a standard metal 20’ or 40’ ISO shipping container. The unit is shipped to the destination site dry, that is, without the electrolyte filled into the vessels. Shipping the storage unit dry is logical and will avoid a rupture of the electrolyte vessels and leaking fluid all over the surrounding area. In this scenario, the electrolyte can produce toxic gas. Shipping a dry unit also makes a lot of sense because otherwise, a unit full of liquid electrolytes would be very heavy.
Impacts and Damages can occur during the transport and handling
A standard 20-foot standard shipping container weighs 4,916 lbs. (2,230 kg) and with full payload is rated to weigh up to 47,900 lbs. (21,770 kg). A standard 40-foot standard shipping container weighs 8,160 lbs. (3,700 kg) and with maximum payload is rated to weigh up to 59,040 lbs. (26,780 kg). 20’ or 40’ ISO containers are loaded onto ships and trucks for transport with the use of; gantry cranes, top loaders, straddle carriers, reach stackers, truck cranes, and forklifts. Each of these loading options presents the risk of damage to the container during its lifting and movement. Gantry cranes are huge and located beside the port dock to lift containers off and onto ships. They can be fixed in one location or have tracks at the bases that enable them to be moved up and down the dock. These cranes have a lifting capacity of 70,000 lbs. (31,751 kb) and can reach out as far as 70 meters. Gantry cranes located at seaports move at relatively high speed and can achieve between 30 to 50 container moves per hour.
When containerized flow batteries are transported overseas, they encounter the same risks as regular container shipments. Impacts and damage can occur from the handing they receive at the port and while being loaded and off-loaded from the trucks. These impacts can crack the empty electrolyte reservoir and bend or damage the piping and electronic control units. Manufacturers of flow batteries do not want the surprise of opening the door to the flow battery container and discovering internal wreckage. Flow batteries are often deployed with tight and strict timelines. Damaged batteries will require repair and additional diagnostic testing and will cause overall delays to the timetable.
Damage prevention of Flow Batteries Energy Storage Systems
The Mobitron Cargolog® system monitors impacts, temperature, and other environmental conditions of flow batteries during transportation. Shocks and impacts during transport can be detected in real-time so that engineers and project managers can know in advance what has happened to the batteries before they deploy them in the field. This knowledge will save time and provide greater visibility to where the damage occurred. If the battery experienced a hard drop at the port while off-loading with the gantry crane, the Cargolog could precisely determine this by providing the exact time it happened and the GPS coordinates.
Read more about how to assure the quality of transportation for energy storage