Interview with E. Caglan Kumbur, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Electrochemical Energy Systems Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Drexel University

Advancing the Technological and Economic Potential of Electric Storage Operations for Real-Time Applications

Energy storage technologies have the potential to improve grid efficiency and reliability by optimizing power flows and supporting variable power supplies. However, storage applications are often costly and don't always produce achievable returns in every grid scenario. Finding a reliable and profitable strategy within electric storage can be a daunting and confusing task, as utilities struggle to understand the tools necessary for accurately determining its economic impact and viability.

E. Caglan Kumbur answered a series of questions written by marcus evans before the forthcoming 3rd Annual Energy Storage Conference, January 8-10, 2013 in Phoenix, AZ. Mr. Kumbur shares his thoughts on timely reporting and regulatory compliance.

Can you explain your latest research and project findings and how it differs from other battery innovations?

Caglan Kumbur: We develop a new technology called "electrochemical flow capacitor" which utilizes the principles behind flow batteries and supercapacitors. This new concept enables rapid charging/discharging with high power density, and at the same time provides scalable energy storage (i.e., scalability in energy storage capacity), which is a major issue in supercapacitors. This new concept uses flow battery architecture where the power and energy are decoupled, but the energy storage mechanism is similar to supercapacitors (which is much faster and efficient than conventional batteries), therefore this concept combines the advantages of both supercapacitors and flow batteries.

What does your technology mean for the future of storage development?

CK: This new concept promises unique solutions and advantages for grid scale energy solutions. The main advantages include: rapid charging/discharging with high power density, significantly longer life time (potentially up to 100,000 cycles), safe/environmentally friendly, easy scalability and low maintenance. All these features makes this concept suitable for renewable and grid scale energy storage applications.

What do you think is necessary for the technologies like yours to become market viable / feasible for grid implementation?

CK: The concept is very new and is currently being explored. We have shown proof-of-concept and all the current work is conducted at the laboratory scale. To accelerate the technology development process, support/resources from government and industry is needed. Close collaboration with industry is very important to bring the technology to a level where it becomes competitive for market in a short period of time.

Where do you see this technology going in the next few years?

CK: At this point, the technology has primarily been explored at the laboratory scale. We are currently working to develop a bench top demonstration unit to illustrate the full system operation. It is very difficult to forecast when this technology may be implemented in an industrial application, but it is possible that we may see an operational demo unit installed in the upcoming years provided that necessary resources are allocated and collaborations are established.

Dr. E. Caglan Kumbur is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the founding director of the Electrochemical Energy Systems Laboratory ( at Drexel University. He earned his B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey in 2002. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Prior joining Drexel University, he was a Research Associate at the Pennsylvania State University.

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About the 3rd Annual Energy Storage Conference
This unique event will take place in Phoenix, AZ from January 8-10, 2013. Industry leaders attending this event will benefit from a dynamic presentation format consisting of workshops, panel discussions and case studies. Attendees will experience highly interactive conference sessions, 10-15 minutes of Q&A time after each presentation, 4+ hours of networking and exclusive online access to materials post-event.

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