Researchers at TU Graz University of Technology in Austria have developed a redox flow battery that uses conventional vanillin as the electrolyte. They've already patented the separation and refinement process and have published the test results in Angewandte Chemie.
The process works at room temperatures and with common household chemicals.
“We can buy it quite conventionally. If you want, you can even buy it in the supermarket,” explains Spirk. “We can also use a simple reaction to separate it from lignin, which in turn is produced in large quantities as waste product in paper production.”
The academics now want to commercialize the technology, as the process is highly scalable and suitable for continuous production. “The plan is to hook up our plant to a pulp mill and isolate the vanillin from the lignin that is left over as waste,” Spirk said, adding that the team has begun talks with German paper manufacturer Mondi. “Whatever is not needed can subsequently flow back into the regular cycle and be used energetically as usual.”
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