Due to the capricious nature of renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, large-scale energy storage devices are increasingly required to make the best use of the renewable power. The redox flow battery is considered suitable for large-scale applications due to its modular design, good scalability and flexible operation. The biggest challenge of the redox flow battery is the low energy density. The redox active species is the most important component in redox flow batteries, and the redox potential and solubility of redox species dictate the system energy density. This review is focused on the recent development of redox species. Different categories of redox species, including simple inorganic ions, metal complexes, metal-free organic compounds, polysulfide/sulfur and lithium storage active materials, are reviewed. The future development of redox species towards higher energy density is also suggested.
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