Researchers at TU Graz have found a way to convert the aromatic substance vanillin into a redox-active electrolyte material for liquid batteries. The technology is an important step towards ecologically sustainable energy storage.
“It is ground-breaking in the field of sustainable energy storage technology,” says Stefan Spirk from the Institute of Bioproducts and Paper Technology at Graz University of Technology. He and his team have succeeded in making redox-flow batteries more environmentally friendly by replacing their core element, the liquid electrolyte, which are mostly made up of ecologically harmful heavy metals or rare earths — with vanillin, an important ingredient of Austrian vanilla croissants.
Sustainable energy storage
Vanillin, a commonly used flavour compound, is one of the few fine-chemicals produced from lignin. Spirk and his team refine lignin into vanillin into a redox-active material using mild and green chemistry without the use of toxic and expensive metal catalysts, so that