New 'flow' battery tech: powers and cools chip at once

Scientists build a small 'flow' battery that both cools, and powers a chip at the same time.

1 minute & 34 seconds read time

The future of batteries could be similar to what scientists from IBM and ETH Zurich university are showing off, with the scientists building a new "flow" battery that both powers, and cools a processor.

The new "redox flow" batteries use "liquid electrolytes are normally used on a large scale to store energy", reports Engadget - with Harvard researchers recently creating one that can last over 10 years with little degradation, making it perfect for storing solar/wind energies. ETH Zurich and IBM found two liquids that work with both "flow-battery electrolytes and cooling agents that can dissipate heat from chips in the same circuit", Engadget continues.

Doctoral student Julian Marschewski explains: "We are the first scientists to build such a small flow battery so as to combine energy supply and cooling".

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3D printers were used to make a "wedge-shaped micro-channel" systgem that provides the system with electrolytes, all without using too much power - allowing the electrodes pressing liquid into the membrane layer where ions can flow, which generates power. Amazing stuff, really. In the end, the current system is capable of generating 1.4 watts per square centimeter, with 1 watt of power left over to power the battery itself.

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There's also more heat dissipated than a traditional system, but it's also powering the system at the same time. In future models, the researchers want to generate more electricity than they're generating now, as they need to shift from research, and into the engineering stages. The team is already thinking outside of the box, with this new battery not just cooling down chips, but lasers with internal cooling, solar cells capable of storing electricity into the battery cell directly, and even large flow batteries optimized with liquid cooling channels.


Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering and has recently taken a keen interest in artificial intelligence (AI) hardware.

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