JointCenterforEnergyStorageResearch patents -Lithium - Ion Battery Equipment

JointCenterforEnergyStorageResearch patents increase -Lithium - Ion Battery Equipment

Learn about the latest advances in next-generation energy storage technology brought to you by the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research.

Lithium-ion batteries may be the most popular technology today, but the next generation of energy storage devices may appear sooner than you think, with new devices that will be safer and longer-lasting.

Decarbonizing renewable energy grids and heavy-duty transportation such as long-distance transportation, water transportation, and transport requires innovation in batteries. Agencies leading the innovation include the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), which is led by DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

JCESR scientists collaborate in the Electrochemistry Laboratory at Argonne National Laboratory to develop next-generation batteries. (Image courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory)

Since 2013, JCESR researchers have invented a wider variety of technologies in the "beyond lithium-ion" field. They focus primarily on flow batteries, lithium-sulfur batteries, multivalent ion batteries, and solid-state batteries, and have obtained more than 30 patents, all of which are currently licensed.

Argonne materials engineer and JCESR researcher Brian Ingram said, "The intellectual property portfolio developed illustrates some of our fundamental understanding of how to build molecules that can be used with each other at the atomic level to create stable and efficient battery-grade materials."

Why go beyond lithium technology?

All batteries contain 3 parts: the anode, the negative electrode of the battery; the cathode, the positive electrode of the battery; and the electrolyte, a chemical material that allows electric current or charge to flow between the anode and cathode.

In the case of lithium batteries, when the battery is turned on, a chemical reaction occurs that results in the release of negatively charged particles called electrons and positively charged particles called lithium ions. Lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte. Meanwhile, electrons from the anode travel through a separate circuit to the cathode, and the movement of the electrons creates an electrical current that powers the device. When these batteries are recharged, the ions and electrons return to the anode, ready to start the cycle all over again.(Lithium - Ion Battery Equipment)

While lithium batteries are very useful, there are some drawbacks. Batteries require additional physical protection to maintain safe operation, but are expensive to produce and limited in duration of use. Research into next-generation batteries is focused on creating new designs and materials to overcome these limitations and expand the battery's usefulness.

redox flow battery

Especially in the field of power grids, redox flow batteries are considered to surpass lithium battery technology. Compared with lithium batteries, which can supply a large amount of energy in a short period of time, flow batteries are more suitable for supplying lower energy over a longer period of time.

JCESR research has revealed a more energy-dense and efficient way to make flow batteries than is currently available. Within the scope of their intellectual property, the patents address some of the limitations of existing flow batteries and non-aqueous flow batteries, an emerging technology.

Multivalent ion battery technology

The multivalent metal battery discovered by researchers at JCESR is another emerging technology. Multivalent metals can achieve higher charge densities than lithium, which can only have one charge.

Anodes made from polyvalent metals such as magnesium and calcium have the potential to match or even exceed lithium's energy density, and are often more abundant, making anodes more affordable and sustainable. To advance the technology, researchers still have to overcome a number of scientific challenges. JCESR's intellectual property, in particular, addresses the challenges associated with creating stable electrolytes in multivalent batteries, which are necessary to maintain performance over the long term.

"The electrolytes that exist in this space are only stable under very narrow conditions," Ingram said. "With JCESR, we've done a lot of work to expand the range of stability."

Lithium sulfur battery

Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries are another battery that surpasses Li-ion technology in terms of transportation and has shown great potential. Lithium-sulfur batteries can store more energy at a lower cost than traditional lithium-ion technology due to the chemistry of lithium-sulfur batteries, and the fact that sulfur itself is cheap and abundant than other common cathode materials such as cobalt, nickel, manganese, etc. 



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