Redflow CEO speaks at FiRe 2015


Redflow CEO Stuart Smith spoke at the 13th annual Future in Review (FiRe) conference of global thought leaders, on October 7, 2015 at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, Utah, in the US. The following notes summarise the themes addressed in his presentation. Learn more about Redflow

Good afternoon – I am Stuart Smith CEO of Redflow from Australia which manufactures the worlds smallest flow battery.

Elon Musk has recently referred to the sun as “a handy fusion reactor in the sky” which shows up every day and produces ridiculous amounts of energy so much so that only 40 minutes of the suns energy will provide the total annual energy consumption for every person.

As a result, solar PV installations have thrived but that only addresses energy usage when the sun is shining.  Time-shifting power from solar arrays, through suitable storage, would enable the sun to become our biggest and most reliable generator.

We could replace dirty fossil-fuel baseload power generators, would have no downtime for maintenance, no extra CO2 emissions and no impact on the environment.

Now imagine if someone invented a revolutionary new battery which had the following characteristics :

  • is made from totally recyclable plastic with no rare earth materials used,
  • it happily charges and discharges 100% of its energy day in and day out with no impact on longevity,
  • that tolerates heat, humidity and harsh conditions better than any other,
  • is intrinsically safe and does not need fire suppression systems and thermal management systems
  • although it has a small footprint is fully modular and scalable up to MW capacities,
  • was capable of being manufactured by any credible manufacturing partner, and
  • it came with a 10 year warranty.

If such a battery existed it would be pretty awesome.

In fact renewable energy targets could be achieved and possibly exceeded way ahead of currently proposed dates of 2030 or 2050.

Well, Redflow has not only invented this battery, we have successfully commercialised it and are manufacturing it today.

Our flow battery actually enjoys full charging and discharging on a daily basis – something that damages or destroys other types of batteries.  It also thrives in hot, humid climates and is fully recyclable being made from plastic !  Even the electrodes, the heart of any battery, are made of plastic.

These are fundamental differences from lead acid and lithium ion.

When flow batteries are mentioned one associates them with large, bulky vanadium storage products with tanks as big as this room.   Our core flow battery product is the smallest flow battery in the world – it is a small compact modular unit measuring 33 inches by 32 inches by 16 inches that can deliver 10kWh day in and day out each and every day.  This is obviously a significant difference from the past. Contrary to what many people say, size does matter.

While our IP was developed in Australia, our flow batteries are available globally through our manufacturing partner, Flextronics, which has been a significant supporter of our vision and our technology for the past 18 months.

Based in Santa Clara, California, Flextronics is Americas largest manufacturing and supply chain solutions provider operating over 100 manufacturing plants in 30 countries.

Now that is what I call a real gigafactory !!

A critical distinction is that the Redflow product is an energy battery – a workhorse – it is designed for sustained electricity delivery over time, as distinct from a power battery that provides short-term power bursts such as those needed by an electric car or a mobile phone.

Our flow battery is now in the midst of successful harsh-environment field trials in Africa, Asia and Central America.

Our first grid-scale storage battery (comprising 48 modules) is being installed on a customer site later this year and we plan to release residential solutions early in 2016.

Many ‘new’ battery companies are advertising vapourware. They haven’t made the significant leap to the real world with consistent and reliable manufacturing. Our battery exists and it has.

In summing up, with our product we have a real opportunity to be one of the most disruptive energy storage technologies globally in a segment which is getting bigger on a daily basis and which constructively addresses climate and carbon emission issues facing the entire world.

We have one outside so feel free to take a look.

Thank you for your time.

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