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  • Investing in Vanadium Redox Batteries

    Date: Feb 13, 2018

    Lithium has been the most relevant energy metal over the past few years.

    In recent months, cobalt has become the energy metal favored by investors.

    The demand for both of these metals is set to increase rapidly as demand for lithium-ion batteries continues to grow. But the energy metal with the biggest upside right now is one you might not associate with energy, or even know: vanadium.

    There’s nothing particularly exciting about vanadium. It’s actually quite boring. Vanadium is an industrial metal that’s used mostly to harden steel. About 90% of vanadium demand currently comes from the steel industry.

    High-strength vanadium-alloy steels are used in high-rise buildings, bridges, heavy equipment, industrial tools, automotive parts, medical devices, ship plates, rail lines, turbine engines, airframes, military vehicles, and tools.

    Over the past 12 months, the price of vanadium has been increasing due to higher demand and tightening supplies from China. But what makes vanadium the energy metal of the future is its application in battery technology.

    In particular, I’m talking about the arrival and proliferation of the vanadium redox battery (VRB).

    Originally conceived by NASA during the energy crises of the 1970s, vanadium redox batteries mainly consist of two tanks of liquid. This liquid flows adjacent to each other and past a membrane, which generates a charge by moving electrons back and forth. Due to their size and weight, these batteries are expected to be mainly used for grid storage.

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    Currently, grid energy storage facilities use lithium-ion batteries to store electricity. But lithium-ion batteries have flaws.

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