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Flow Battery: What You Need to Know

Key Details

  • Flow batteries consist of two tanks of electrolytes and electro-active materials.
  • Flow batteries have the advantages of a long lifespan, high efficiency, less maintenance, and increased density.
  • When compared to lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, flow batteries are more cost-effective and efficient.
  • Recycling flow batteries should be done with the help of professional recyclers.

What is a Flow Battery?

A flow battery is a type of rechargeable battery that stores energy in a chemical solution. Unlike traditional batteries that store energy in solid materials like lithium or lead, flow batteries store energy in a liquid electrolyte solution.

Most flow batteries consist of two tanks of electrolytes or chemical components that are dissolved in liquid and separated by a membrane.

Compared to other battery types, flow batteries are characterized by a longer lifecycle because of the way they are built.

Flow batteries have several advantages over traditional batteries, including longer lifespan, high efficiency, and flexibility in sizing. However, they also have some drawbacks, such as higher upfront costs and lower energy density compared to traditional batteries.

What are the Active Materials of a Flow Battery?

Flow batteries vary in size, so the materials available in each battery vary, but they all have regular materials. Flow batteries consist of electro-active materials that are utilized only during operation.

  • Electrolytes: Contain vanadium and sulfuric acid, whose functions are to carry electric charges.

  • Ions; Groups of an atom that have electric charges. Their function in a flow battery is to trigger motions and currents, sending signals to necessary parts of the battery.

  • Electrochemical cell; It gives out chemical energy to be distributed through the system.

  • All-Vanadium; An all-vanadium in a flow battery is an electrochemical energy storage system that controls the surplus discharge of current in the circuit.

  • Flow cells: They are arranged in stacks, and they aid the transferring of electrical currents (electrolytes)

Why Choose Flow Batteries?

Flow batteries offer efficient and lasting energy storage. They're also a good pick if you are in the market for a low-maintenance battery.

Long lifespan

Flow batteries can last for up to 15 years with proper maintenance and usage. Depending on the size and capacity of the batteries, you can use them for up to 10 hours with a single charge. This is optimal in comparison to lead-acid batteries.

High efficiency

Flow batteries offer higher efficiency when serving as solar panel batteries and can be trusted to perform better even in unfavorable conditions.

Less maintenance

Flow batteries do not require much maintenance, as they are designed to withstand different situations.

Optimal Battery Density

Flow batteries can hold more power, even if the size of the battery doesn’t look large. You get portability and strength in a single unit.


Flow batteries can also discharge by themselves when the battery is getting overcharged, this protects the battery and gives it a longer lifespan.

Flow batteries are often used in large-scale energy storage applications, such as grid-scale energy storage, where they can help balance the supply and demand of electricity. They can also be used in remote or off-grid locations to provide backup power during outages.

Which is Better, Flow Battery or Lithium-ion Battery?

Flow batteries have varying benefits, which include longer life, less maintenance, and even more. Some of the benefits of choosing a flow battery include:

Longer Duration

Flow batteries tend to have a longer duration compared to Lithium-ion batteries. They are optimized to perform for long hours. Lithium-ion performs for just 8 hours before a charge is needed.

Adaptability to Temperature

Flow batteries are less affected by temperature. They operate well whether the temperature is hot or cold. Lithium-ion batteries are not better suited for harsh weather conditions.

Longer asset life

Flow batteries have an unlimited cycle and do not get degradable as usage goes on. It could operate for up to 11 years while maintaining its capabilities and capacity.

Less maintenance

Lithium-ion batteries do not require frequent maintenance costs. The materials in it do not require as much maintenance. Flow batteries require regular maintenance checks, this is to prevent problems.

Which is Better, Flow Battery or Lead Acid Battery?

The main differences between the two batteries are in performance and cost. Flow batteries are more expensive and efficient, while Lead Acid batteries are less expensive and less efficient.

Life Span

Flow batteries have an unlimited battery cycle, making it possible to have a longer life span. Lead Acid Battery does not have an unlimited battery cycle, it is shortchanged and requires frequent change.


Flow batteries are safe, as they don't contain flammable materials, and most of the materials that they are composed of are environmentally friendly. Lead Acid Battery contains more flammable and hazardous materials.


Lead Acid Battery is small and can be portable and used for mobile equipment. Flow batteries are large and are mostly relative to the capacity they offer. They could take up more space, but they offer more relative power.

Can I Replace a Flow Battery with a Lead Acid battery?

Although a flow battery can be replaced with a lead acid battery, this does not work in all cases. Differences in size, voltage, capacity, or charging mechanism may prevent replacements.

Are Flow Batteries Safe or a Fire Hazard?

Flow batteries have a lower risk of catching fire than other batteries. That's because a flow battery is made up primarily of non-flammable electrolyte water.

Flow batteries also consist of vanadium flow batteries, which are described as one of the safest storage technologies.

Some steps you can take to keep your Flow Battery safe include: \

  • Batteries should be kept at room temperature. Even though flow batteries are created to adapt to harsh temperature changes, you have to make sure that it is kept in a cold and dry place.
  • Use appropriate chargers to charge or boost the battery whenever needed.
  • Ensure not overcharge it. Overcharging Flow battery contributes to steady degradation.
  • Always turn it on/off properly while in use or after use.

Does Tesla Have a Flow Battery?

No, it does not. Tesla uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The lithium-ion battery seems better suited for Tesla’s use.

How to Find Flow Battery Recycling Near Me?

Flow batteries are capable of a continuous cycle of use and reuse. So even after years of use, their materials and components can still be reused. Contact local California to find the best flow battery recycling near you.

Tips on how to recycle used Flow batteries

Flow Batteries Should Not Be Disposed Of Carelessly

If you have a flow battery that is spoiled, in need of repair, or not very useful, keep it out of the reach of children and the outdoor environment.

Keep From Extra Damage

You should keep the battery out of harm’s way. It’ll be better to deliver something recyclable to your recycler than to deliver a spoiled battery.

Reach Out To A Professional Recycler

In your state or country, there exist stores and shops that specialize in recycling. Get in touch with them, and the normal recycling processes would be followed, and you would contribute a lot by keeping yourself and the environment out of harm's way.