A fluorescent liquid dye, BODIPY, has stored and transferred energy in a rechargeable liquid battery, making it a candidate for use in batteries that could power cars and household appliances.

A research team at the University at Buffalo announced their discovery in an issue of ChemSusChem. A motivator for the research is to provide power when alternative sources like solar and wind are unavailable.

BODIPY has the necessary chemical properties for a batteryBODIPY has the necessary chemical properties for a batteryBODIPY – short for boron-dipyrromethene – possesses the chemical properties for a battery: electron storage and participation in electron transfer. The BODIPY-based battery operates on the principle of redox flow.

Redox flow batteries consist of two tanks of fluids separated by various barriers. In use, electrons flow from one tank to the other. Solar or wind power could recharge the battery, storing energy to use when the sun sets or the wind dies down, and the process starts over again.

Liquid-based redox batteries have advantages over other storage devices. For example, they will not catch fire as do lithium batteries. In theory, redox batteries are scalable, enabling public utilities or homeowners to store energy for future use. Scalable storage has been an impediment to larger-scale solar and wind deployment.

The BODIPY battery’s advantage over other chemicals currently used in redox batteries may be that the dye does not degrade over time. This characteristic makes BODIPY a more practical battery component. The test battery reportedly performed well after the research team drained and recharged it 100 times.

The team says it expects other varieties of BODIPY to perform similarly, given the similarity of chemical properties.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com