Quest : Flow Batteries : Ideas : Extraction of V from CCP and detection reaction

Coal combustion products often contain significant amounts of Vanadium which is needed for certain types of flow batteries. This post also talks about a detection reaction for Vanadium

Project Lab

Florian Lienert

Date: 01 July 2020 15:44

I am sorry if this post is messy but I had intended this post as one, but it doesn't let me write more than 8000 characters so I had to split it up in two; first post is about a detection reaction for Vanadium and the second post about the extraction of Vanadium from coal combustion products!

So, I was reading about Vanadium and came across the biological role of this element. I thought about a detection reaction which could probably be done at home: Hydrogenperoxide reacts with Vanadium (+5) building red-brown [V(O2)]3+ cations. H2O2 solution can be bought in a pharmacy without prescription and by freezing and then pouring off the non-frozen hydrogenperoxide you can increase the concentration of H202. It would also be interesting to look at if certain cellorganelles contain higher concentrations of Vanadium, for example the chloroplasts as Vanadium apparently plays a key role in the first stages of photosynthesis. However safety precautions need to be taken when experimenting with Hydrogenperoxide. For those who do not have access to microscopes they can build one themselves with different methods. I tried to take some pictures of cells myself today with just a drop of water, one layer of an onion, a flashlight and a smart phone camera. It didn't go so well though:

(I realized I can't post pictures but my result wasn't actually half bad)

You can however make out single cells if you zoom in and there are methods with some simple convex lenses that work a lot better.

The post continues in the other comment although they are only loosely connected!

EDIT: If I didn't make this clear: This experiment is not supposed to drive innovation much, rather to get students/children interested in vandium, batteries, science in general, ...

Edited: 03 July 2020 14:27

Florian Lienert

Date: 01 July 2020 15:46

This is the second part and original intent of my post:


Anyway, because Vanadium can be found in the cells of plants, there might be a method to extract Vanadium from something we typically throw away: fly ash. When we burn coal, different coal combustion products are left behind, one of them, fly ash, contains between 15619 and 40879 mg/kg of Vanadium depending on the type of fly ash (DP/PP). About 60% of coal combustion products are typically thrown away (burried in landfills or disposed of in other ways), however there are ways of recovering Vanadium from industrial waste which could be employed in the future. As Vanadium prices possibly rise because of increasing demand news ways like this could become an option.


This is however complete speculation on my part, I am not at all an expert on this topic and I am not sure if this isn't already widely established. I just wanted to share my idea even though it might not have any relevance. Possibly these almost trace amounts of Vanadium are not even worth extracting, I do not know anything about the economic side of this method. Also, I am not sure how well the described experiment in the first paragraph would actually work and would advise against children working with H202 without parental supervision.


Thanks for reading, I hope I didn't write complete bogus,


Florian Lienert

Florian Lienert

Date: 03 July 2020 14:23

Update: This article (also found in the article section of the flow batteries quest) talks about using chitin for vanadium redox flow batteries, so I guess looking into the nature to find solutions for these batteries wasn't so bad an idea after all (doesn't have much to do with my original idea though ;)

Simon Brändle

Date: 04 July 2020 16:37

I tried the microscope thing and it worked! That's so cool, I saw the cells and a nucleus too! I used just a drop of water and then put a one-cell-layer of onion skin over a flash light and it worked! Thanks, more of this!

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