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Department of Energy announces US$120 million for battery innovation hub

The funding will help create higher capacity batteries

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced plans to provide US$120 million over five years to renew the Joint Centre for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub devoted to advancing battery science and technology, led by Argonne National Laboratory.

“Improvements in battery performance are paramount to the future of both transportation and the electric grid,” said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar, speaking at the Innovation XLab Energy Storage Summit at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. “JCESR is one of our most important centres of discovery and innovation for electrical energy storage and will be critical in laying the scientific groundwork for the next generation of battery technology.”

Established in December 2012 by the Department’s Office of Science, JCESR assembled a team of top experts from multiple disciplines and over a dozen leading laboratories and institutions of higher learning to tackle some of the biggest scientific challenges in electrical energy storage.

During its first five years, JCESR demonstrated a new class of membranes for flow batteries; made substantial progress in establishing the scientific foundations for batteries based on doubly-charged magnesium instead of singly-charged lithium; and developed computational tools that screened over 24,000 potential electrolyte and electrode compounds for new battery concepts and chemistries.

The centre also produced more than 380 peer-reviewed publications and over 100 inventions at various stages of the patent process. Three new start-up companies were created through licensing of JCESR technology.

Future efforts at JCESR will focus on developing new battery materials “from the bottom up” using principles rooted in a detailed understanding of matter at the atomic and molecular levels.

Emphasis will be on the development of multivalent battery designs, capable of significantly higher energy capacity than today’s lithium-ion batteries, as well as on new concepts for so-called flow batteries for the electric grid.

Along with Argonne, JCESR partner institutions include four other DOE laboratories –Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories – along with the Army Research Laboratory, 11 universities, and one private firm.

DOE’s decision to renew JCESR followed a successful review of its first five years’ performance by a panel of outside peer reviewers convened by DOE in July. Funding for JCESR in fiscal year 2018 will total US$24 million, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

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