The Power of Implementing a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery on the UMass Amherst Campus
In 2020, the Leading by Example (LBE) Council announced that a Carbon Mitigation Task Force would be established for the purpose of achieving net carbon neutrality at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst campus by 2030. To meet this goal, new forms of clean energy generation and storage are expected to be implemented. Our team has focused on vanadium redox flow batteries, or VRFBs, a safer and “greener” alternative to the lithium-ion Borrego battery that currently exists for the university’s energy needs. In this paper, we argue that lithium-ion batteries pose safety concerns and profits from socially unjust mining methods. Due to the fundamental differences that flow batteries have, VRFBs offer a solution to energy storage that is much closer aligned with UMass’s goal of minimizing and ultimately, eliminating carbon emissions. Additionally, as this technology is further improved and commercialized, a VRFB can easily be integrated on campus. With a modest allotment of land and reasonable expenses, these batteries can meet the energy requirements of the university while minimizing expenditure and carbon emissions compared to the current technology. VRFBs are uniquely adaptive and can be arranged and expanded as needed, a key consideration due to plans of future campus expansion. All in all, the benefits of VRFBs outweigh those of lithium-ion batteries and we hope to adopt this revolutionary technology to set an environmental standard for the rest of the world.