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Berkeley Lab Contributes to New Energy Storage Research Hub

Battery research at EETD

Battery research at EETD

Battery research at EETD

In November 2012, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) continued to expand its collaborative advanced battery and energy storage research by becoming a partner in the latest U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Innovation Hub—the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR). Lead by Argonne National Laboratory, the JCESR partners—including other national laboratories, universities, and private-sector companies—are joining forces to develop the next-generation battery and energy storage technologies necessary to support electric and hybrid cars and the integration of renewable energy into the electric grid.

This new alliance follows on Berkeley Lab's creation of CalCharge, an energy storage research and development partnership, with CALCEF Catalyst earlier in 2012. The CalCharge consortium brings together academic and government resources with private-sector businesses to develop energy storage technologies and ease commercialization for vehicle, grid, and consumer electronics applications. Berkeley Lab's participation in JCESR will cast the net even wider, by contributing to and drawing upon the most advanced battery and energy storage research in the country.

United States Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu lauded the collaborative effort. "This is a partnership between world-leading scientists and world-leading companies, committed to ensuring that the advanced battery technologies the world needs will be invented and built right here in America," said Secretary Chu. "Based on the tremendous advances that have been made in the past few years, there are very good reasons to believe that advanced battery technologies can and will play an increasingly valuable role in strengthening America's energy and economic security by reducing our oil dependence, upgrading our aging power grid, and allowing us to take greater advantage of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar."

Venkat Srinivasan, the Head of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technology Division's (EETD's) Energy Storage and Distributed Resources Department, sees benefits from not only the efficiencies inherent in collaborative energy storage research, but also from taking a fresh approach to the subject.

"The current practice is to pick a particular set of materials for the anode, cathode, and electrolyte and conduct R&D to see how these materials perform in terms of improving the energy density of the battery, cycle life, and other parameters," says Srinivasan. "But this has led to an improvement of only about five percent per year in battery energy density. To meet the energy challenges facing us, we need a revolution in battery energy density, cost, and lifetime."

Venkat Srinivasan

Venkat Srinivasan

Venkat Srinivasan

"In the Hub, we'll be bringing together a diverse group of scientists in chemistry, materials sciences, engineering, computational science, and others—some with battery research experience and some who are new to the field—and we'll focus on the mechanisms of energy storage in batteries. Instead of the specific material focus, we'll look at the mechanism as a whole and ask broad questions that no one has ever asked before. We hope that answering these questions will lead to new battery materials that no one has dreamed of."

Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos feels that the Lab's contribution will be substantial. "The energy storage Hub will leverage Berkeley Lab's core strengths in team science and in materials and chemistry for energy innovation. We're confident that the expertise Berkeley Lab researchers bring to the JCESR partnership will help this new Hub make great strides toward national energy solutions," he said.

All of the Hub partners bring high-level expertise to the effort. In addition to Berkeley Lab and Argonne, other national lab partners are Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) National Accelerator Laboratory. University partners include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and University of Michigan. Four industrial partners—Dow Chemical Company; Applied Materials, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; and Clean Energy Trust—will focus on smoothing delivery of the advanced products developed at JCESR into the marketplace.

The DOE is awarding as much as $120 million over five years to establish JCESR as a nationwide center for energy storage research. The Hub will be directed by George W. Crabtree, Argonne Senior Scientist and an internationally recognized leader in energy research. The program will coordinate the efforts of several successful independent research programs, working to overcome the current barriers to efficient, long-lasting energy storage. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is providing $5 million from the Illinois Jobs Now! program to help build the JCESR facility on the Argonne National Laboratory campus just outside of Chicago. He is also working with the state's General Assembly to secure $30 million that the Hub could use in the future to fund capital projects.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin summarized the benefits of this collaborative approach. "This new Hub brings together, under a single organizational roof, the world's leading scientists, engineers, and manufacturers in energy storage and provides them with the tools, resources, and market reach necessary to produce major breakthroughs. The large-scale, innovative research and transformational new battery systems that will result from this venture will mean more-effective, lower-cost, and longer-life energy storage technologies with real-world applications."

In California, the news was welcomed in Silicon Valley. "The Silicon Valley Leadership Group is excited to support the efforts of the Hub to develop next-generation batteries to make electric vehicles and clean energy technologies more efficient," said Carl Guardino, CEO of the 375-member Silicon Valley Leadership Group. "This public-private partnership between our national laboratories, universities, and member companies is exactly what we need to drive collaboration and innovation in the clean energy space."

Venkat Srinivasan, who will lead Berkeley Lab's involvement in JCESR, is excited at the possibilities that Berkeley Lab's new energy storage partnerships bring.

"With this hub and the creation of CalCharge, there's real momentum now towards making some progress in this important field," says Srinivasan. "We can all envision electric vehicles that travel hundreds of miles on a charge, or a battery to store electricity from solar panels for use at night. These partnerships will move us one big step closer to achieving those goals."

For more information:

  • Venkat Srinivasan
  • (510) 495-2679

Additional information:

Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR)


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