Why Vanadium?

Vanadium – stronger, lighter, more efficient and more powerful.

Vanadium is a strategic rare chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. It is a soft, silvery grey, ductile transition metal with good structural strength, a natural resistance to corrosion and stability against alkalis, acids and salt water.

In nature, the element is found only in chemically combined forms occurring naturally in about 65 different minerals and in fossil fuel deposits. 70% of vanadium supply results from smelting iron rich ores containing vanadium to produce pig iron and a vanadium rich slag.

  • Mined vanadium supplies only 18% of the market and is currently supplied by Brazil and South Africa while recovery from used vanadium products (often fuel catalysts) makes up around 12% of supply.
  • Listed by the Australian and United States Government’s as a “Critical Mineral”. China, Russia and South Africa currently account for almost all worldwide production.
  • China holds around 42% of the world’s reserves, but produces around 62% of vanadium, while Australia holds 18% of the world’s reserves but currently does not produce vanadium.

Vanadium Uses

  • Most vanadium consumption (up to 92%) is ferrovanadium (a mixture of iron and vanadium) to significantly increase the strength and hardness of steel.
  • Vanadium is used in many industries and applications, from automobiles, hand tools, ships, industrial tools and aeroplanes, along with batteries for energy storage.
  • Vanadium has begun to play a pivotal role in the advancement of battery technology, namely in stationary energy storage applications for both renewable and conventional energy. In the case of energy storage systems, the Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) is a leading energy storage system given its virtually unlimited storage capacity, long battery life, low maintenance requirements, adaptability and nominal environmental footprint.
  • VRFBs store energy and can be adapted to meet specific energy storage and power demands.  Vanadium consumption for VRFB’s is forecast to grow at an average 20.7% a year over 2020 to 2029.

What are Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries?

Pioneered by Australian chemical engineer Maria Skylla-Kazacos, the VRFB is a type of rechargeable flow battery where rechargeability is provided by vanadium electrolyte dissolved in solution. Vanadium has a unique characteristic of having four different stages of oxidation. In each of the four stages, vanadium contains a different electrical charge and is therefore used as a catalyst to store energy.

Since the electrolyte that stores the energy is housed in external tanks, it allows power and energy density to be scaled up independently of each other. To store more power, simply increase the size of the tanks. This makes the VRFB a very adaptable energy storage system, with kilowatt capacities ideal for residential and commercial applications and megawatt capacities for the power grid and stand-alone storage systems for solar and wind farm installations. Development of VRFBs could prompt increases in the use of renewable, intermittent power sources.

The largest VRFB development in the world, the Dalian /Rongke Power energy storage system, was connected to the Chinese power grid in May 2022. The battery storage system is anticipated to lower the peak load on the grid in Dalian City’s, Shahekou District, which is located in Liaoning Province in north eastern China and support the deployment of renewable energy sources to the grid. The energy system currently has a capacity of 100 MW/400MWh (although a second phase of construction intends to increase its total capacity to 200 MW/800 MWh). By comparison, Europe’s largest battery storage power station is located in Jardelund, Germany and can store approximately 50 MWh of electric power and release it with an output of 48 MW.

Want to know more? Visit the Vanitec website here.

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