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A newsletter featuring news and information about JCESR
Issue Three

Director's Message

The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by Argonne National Laboratory, is at the halfway point – 2½ years into its five year charter. This is a good time to step back and look at the big picture: how far we have come, what we have learned and where we are going.

Looking Back

We launched JCESR with a bold vision: to create game-changing next-generation battery technologies that will transform transportation and the electricity grid the way lithium-ion batteries transformed personal electronics. This bold vision addresses pressing national needs to reduce carbon emissions, increase energy efficiency, lower our dependence on foreign oil, accelerate deployment of renewable solar and wind electricity on the grid and modernize the grid with new operating concepts that strengthen its flexibility, reliability and resilience.

Next-generation energy storage could meet these needs for transportation and the grid with a single dramatic innovation: batteries that deliver five times the energy density at one-fifth the cost. Such batteries would allow inexpensive electric cars to drive five times farther on a single charge, rivaling the 400-mile range of conventional gasoline cars, and they would make storing and releasing electricity on the grid just as cheap as generating it with natural gas turbines.

Next-generation storage has the potential to replace traditional, century-old fossil fuel technologies with newer, more sustainable and cleaner alternatives. The market implications are equally impressive: transportation and the grid account for nearly 70 percent of US energy use, compared to 2 percent for personal electronics powered by today’s lithium-ion batteries. In energy terms, next-generation batteries could have at least 10 times the market reach of today’s batteries. In dollars and cents, channeling half the transportation and grid energy through storage would create a market 10 times larger than personal electronics powered by lithium-ion batteries, which currently stands at $15-$20 billion. Read more »

Promising Directions and the Tools to Get Us There

At the halfway point in our five-year charter, we have narrowed our research directions within the three promising energy storage concepts we are pursuing:

In replacing singly charged lithium ions in lithium-ion batteries with doubly or triply charged ions (“multivalent intercalation”), we are focusing on doubly charged magnesium as the working ion, which, in theory, could double energy storage capacity.

In replacing intercalation with chemical reaction (“chemical transformation”), we are focusing on lithium as the working ion, lithium metal as the anode, and sulfur as the cathode. Read more »

Sprints Accelerate Research

In October 2014, we introduced “Sprints” to accelerate research and meet our goal of developing two battery prototypes, one for transportation and the other for the grid. Each Sprint begins with the identification of a critical scientific question for prototype development that must be answered within a few month timeframe, and the formation of the right team of scientists and engineers to answer the question. Sprint teams are made up of specialists from multiple JCESR institutions spanning diverse technical expertise. This arrangement has resulted in increased interaction across organizations. Read more »

Research Highlight: Let the Good Times Flow

There are two electrodes in every battery. One electrode, called the cathode, connects to the positive end of the battery and is where the electric current leaves the battery. The other electrode, the anode, connects to the negative end of the battery and is where the electric current enters the battery. Read more »

Upcoming Events

November 3: Bay Area Battery Summit – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Learn more »

The Faces of JCESR

Joaquín Rodríguez-López’ group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign contributes to realizing the development of efficient energy storage on electrical grids through the discovery of novel concepts for non-aqueous redox flow batteries.

The core of his research is designed to better understand and improve the dynamics of ion and electron transfer at electrochemical interfaces in batteries. Joaquín currently leads a JCESR Sprint that seeks to deliver breakthrough redox active polymers that will help achieve cost and performance targets for flow batteries.

Press Releases

Argonne and MSU Partner to Create Energy Storage Technology Solutions
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Mississippi State University (MSU) are collaborating to develop new technologies that address next-generation energy storage challenges. Read press release »

Study Finds a Way to Prevent Fires in Next-Generation Lithium Batteries
JCESR researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory discovered that adding two chemicals to the electrolyte of a lithium metal battery prevents the formation of dendrites – “fingers” of lithium that pierce the barrier between the battery’s halves, causing it to short out, overheat and sometimes burst into flame. Read press release »

Beyond the Lithium Ion – a Significant Step toward a Better Performing Battery
JCESR researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have taken a significant step toward the development of a battery that could outperform the lithium-ion technology used in electric cars such as the Chevy Volt. Read press release »

Erupting Electrodes: How Recharging Leaves Behind Microscopic Debris Inside Batteries
Using a powerful microscope to watch multiple cycles of charging and discharging under real battery conditions, PNNL researchers have gained insight into the chemistry that clogs rechargeable lithium batteries. Their work will help researchers design cheaper and more powerful rechargeable batteries.
Read press release »

In the News

R&D Magazine – Power Up
Today’s batteries are too expensive and aren’t powerful enough. The next generation of batteries being sought by commercial companies, academia and government labs could dramatically change the face of transportation and the grid. Read article »

Christian Science Monitor – How a New Battery Revolution will Change Your Life
Scientists and engineers have long believed in the promise of batteries to change the world. Now – finally – energy storage is beginning to live up to the hype. Read article »

Bloomberg BNA – Lab Making Progress on Advanced Battery Storage for Cars, Grid, House Panel Told
JCESR Director George Crabtree spoke at a House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee hearing on the hub’s strides in next-generation battery technology. Read article »

The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) is a major research partnership that integrates government, academic and industrial researchers from many disciplines to overcome critical scientific and technical barriers and create new breakthrough energy storage technology.

JCESR is led by Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory.

Argonne National Laboratory
9700 South Cass Avenue
Building 200
Lemont, IL 60439