Two promising successors to lithium ion batteries
Founded in 2012, Joint Centre for Energy Storage Research is one of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Innovation Hubs. The mission of these Hubs is to advance promising areas of energy science and engineering from the earliest stages of research to the point of commercialization.
The mission of JCESR, DOE’s Batteries and Energy Storage Hub, is to overcome critical scientific and technical barriers and create transformative battery technology for transportation and the electric grid. JCESR was launched nearly four years ago. Their vision was bold: high-performance, low-cost electricity storage that would lead to widespread deployment of electric vehicles and transformation of the electricity grid with renewable generation and distributed energy resources.
With that vision in mind, JCESR set as their five-year mission the attainment of three legacies:
A library of fundamental knowledge of the materials and phenomena of electrical energy storage at atomic and molecular levels
Two prototypes—one for transportation and one for the electricity grid—that, when scaled to commercial production, are capable of delivering five times the
energy density at one-fifth the cost of commercial batteries available in 2011
A new paradigm for battery R&D, integrating discovery science, battery design, research prototyping, and manufacturing collaboration in a single highly
With only a little more than a year left JCESR are well on their way to attaining their first legacy, a library of fundamental knowledge for beyond-lithium-ion batteries including a database of simulated materials properties open to all interested researchers. In all, more than 24,000 Electrolyte Genome/Materials Project calculations have been released to the public, along with apps to enable their use. Since its release, this open source database has been accessed by the community more than 18,500 times.
The five techno-economic models created by JCESR for designing virtual batteries on the computer are another important contribution. These models are being used to evaluate the best pathways for beyond-lithium-ion systems to reach 400 watt hours per kilogram (400 Wh/kg) and $100 per kilowatt hour ($100/kWh), key targets for batteries used in electric vehicles and on the grid.
In pursuit of the important second legacy, JCESR took a major step forward in January 2016 when it selected designs for proof-of-principle prototypes for the grid and transportation. These designs are built on the fundamental understanding of the materials and phenomena of energy storage developed in the first legacy. Grid: The grid prototype is an organic “redox flow” battery, which consists of two energy-dense liquids that store and release charge as they flow through the battery and undergo reduction and oxidation (“redox”) reactions.