Innovative Iron Flow Battery on it’s way to Schiphol

February 2023

It’s on its way from Oregon to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol by ship; the Iron Flow Battery. With this sustainable and innovative giant battery, Schiphol wants to charge its electric handling equipment at remote locations at the airport, where there is not enough heavy charging infrastructure. We will be testing it on the AB platform from August 2023. In a second pilot we will simulate that it is powered by solar panels, as part of the TULIPS programme. If these pilots are successful, this is a double win, as it both reduces Schiphol’s carbon footprint and air pollution. 

Electrification and decarbonisation 

Electrification of handling equipment is an important step in making the airport operation more sustainable. In the future, Schiphol will increasingly switch to electric handling equipment, without emissions. Such as the electric ground power units (e-GPUs), which power aircraft during handling. At Schiphol, we now have seven at pier D. This is part of Schiphol’s decarbonisation strategy.  Schiphol aims to be zero emission in 2030 and energy positive in 2050.

Challenges in electrification of ground equipment 

The switch to zero emission ground handling equipment does bring new challenges for the airport operation. How do you charge them at remote locations where there is insufficient power or grid capacity?  And can the power grid cope with this ever-increasing demand? An energy storage system can be a solution for this, such as the Iron Flow Battery.  

How can the Iron Flow Battery help? 

An Iron Flow Battery is a large battery that uses common, non-toxic, fire-resistant materials, namely salt water and iron. Also, this battery does not wear out. The capacity is guaranteed to remain the same for up to 20 years. These are major advantages over the widely used lithium-ion batteries. The raw materials for these are often mined under poor environmental and working conditions. Furthermore, they are fire-hazardous and subject to wear and tear. The Iron Flow Battery has a capacity of 500 kWh and a rated capacity of 75 kW.  

The pilots we’re planning 

For the tests, the Iron Flow Battery will be placed on the AB platform, where KLM Cityhopper aircraft are handled. Consequently Schiphol will be able to deploy e-GPUs for the first time on this location. In a second test, we plan to simulate the solar panels at the U-platform providing the Iron Flow Battery with energy. This test is part of the TULIPS programme.   

Which partners are involved? 

Partners involved in testing the Iron Flow Battery are Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Volker Infra, KES and TNO. The battery is developed and built by ESS Inc in Oregon, USA.