The deficit of lithium in lithium-ion batteries may necessitate the development of new types of batteries in which lithium might be substituted. The possible alternative may come in the form of the so-called vanadium redox batteries (VRB) or vanadium flow batteries (VFB).
These are backup devices mainly used for large-scale industrial grid energy storage. It seems that their merits significantly outperform their limitations since they boast larger storage capacity, good battery life and the excellent ability for repeated charges and discharges without a drastic drop in performance. Among their constraints, one can mention bulkiness and high cost of vanadium. Since early 2018 the prices for vanadium, which are tightly coupled with steel market dynamics, have been soaring amid fallen inventories, rising demand for vanadium and some reductions in supply, especially from China and South Africa (this is in sharp contrast with vanadium prices in 2017). In contrast to lithium, vanadium’s resources are plentiful, though their production is monopolised in the same manner as for lithium.
Top vanadium-producing countries
However, as compared to lithium, vanadium extraction and recycling are easier, though the maintenance of vanadium flow batteries requires substantial efforts. In general, there are calls from the vanadium industry to give a major boost to vanadium’s energy-storage applications, which may put vanadium to the forefront of the sustainable power sector.
Find more information about the vanadium market in the in-demand research study “Vanadium: 2018 World Market Review and Forecast to 2027”.