Lithium-oxygen battery

Image: MIT

New lithium-oxygen battery technology proposed by researchers from MIT, Argonne National Laboratory, and Peaking University, promises a scalable, cheap, and safe option in energy storage.

There is immense promise for lithium-oxygen batteries in such applications as electric cars and portable electronics. In fact, they are between five and 15 times more efficient than lithium-ion batteries in transportation applications due to their high energy output potential in proportion to their weight.

But there have been complications in developing and especially implementing these batteries in the marketplace. Primarily, they’ve been known to waste energy and degrade quickly.

But this new study, co-authored by ECS member and past IMLB chair Khalil Amine, states that the theoretical potential for lithium-oxygen batteries could be met while overcoming some of the biggest barriers prohibiting the technology.

Once of the primary focuses of the group was overcoming the mismatch in voltages that happens in charging and discharging the battery. Because the output voltage is more than 1.2 volts lower that that used to charge, there is typically a significant power loss.

“You waste 30 percent of the electrical energy as heat in charging,” says Ju Li, professor at MIT and co-author of the paper. “It can actually burn if you charge it too fast.”

(more…)

Fuel cells have existed (at least in theory) since the early 1800s, but have spent much of their existence as laboratory curiosities. It wasn’t until the mid-1900s that fuel cells finally got their time in the spotlight with the first major application in the Gemini and Apollo space flights.

While fuel cells have moved forward in the competitive field of energy storage, there are still many barriers that researchers are attempting to overcome. Especially today, with society making a conscious effort to move toward more sustainable types of power, much emphasis has been put on solid oxide fuel cells and moving them from the lab to the market.

(MORE: Get additional information on the evolution of fuel cell technology.)

A team of researchers from Washington State University believes they may have taken a crucial step in doing just that.

Moving fuel cells forward

The team recently published a paper detailing what they believe to be a key step in SOFC improvement and eventually implementation in the marketplace. These small improvements could mean big changes.
SOFCs, unlike other types of fuel cells, do not require the use of expensive materials (i.e. platinum) to develop.

“Solid oxide fuel cells are very fuel flexible in contrast to other kinds of fuel cells, like alkaline fuel cells,” Subhash Singhal, Battelle Fellow Emeritus at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and esteemed fuel cell expert, told ECS in a previous interview. “Solid oxide fuel cells can use a variety of fuel: natural gas, coal gas, and even liquid fuels like diesel and gasoline.”

(more…)

RS2EThe French research network on electrochemical energy storage (RS2E) – a public research organization focused on batteries and supercapacitors – has just launched the Young Energy Storage Scientist Award 2016.

The YESS Award is geared toward young scientists in the energy storage field, focused on awarding research funds to innovative and significant projects in the field of electrochemical energy storage, coupled fields of electrochemical energy storage and conversion, or associated characterization techniques.

With this award, RS2E aims to encourage the next wave of energy storage researchers to be as innovative as possible and to say in private/publish energy storage research. The award aims to aid scientists 35 years old or younger from the U.S., Europe, and Canada.

Two $11,000 awards will be distributed, as well as five $2,700 awards.

Deadline for project submissions is July 27, 2016.

Learn more.

As far back as 1839, the English scientist William Grove had the idea that the reactants of a battery could be gases fed into it from external tanks. For most of their history, fuel cells existed only as laboratory curiosities. But fuel cells have gained much more attention in recent years, with many considering these power sources for applications in vehicles and alternative grid technology.

New research from Harvard University shows just how promising fuel cell technology could be. According to the study, the researchers were able to develop more efficient fuel cells that get more robust as they age instead of degrading.

“The elegance of this process is that it happens naturally when exposed to the electrons in fuel,” says Shriram Ramananthan, lead author of the study and past ECS member. “This technique can be applied to other electrochemical devices to make it more robust. It’s like chess—before we could only play with pawns and bishops, tools that could move in limited directions. Now, we’re playing with the queen.”

While you may be unfamiliar with Khalil Amine, he has made an immense impact in your life if you happen to use batteries in any way.

As a researcher with a vision of where the science can be applied in the market, Amine has been monumental in developing and moving some of the biggest breakthroughs in battery technology from the lab to the marketplace.

Amine is currently head of the Technology Development Group in the Battery Technology Department at Argonne National Laboratory. From 1998-2008 he was the most cited scientist in the world in the field of battery technology.

He is the chair of the organizing committee for the 18th International Meeting on Lithium Batteries being held this June in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.

(more…)

AA Battery CarThere may soon be a shift in the transportation sector, where traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles become a thing of the past and electric vehicles start on their rise to dominance.

In fact, we may be seeing that shift already. Last year, battery prices fell 35 percent, which contributed to the 60 percent increase in sales of electric vehicles. If that growth continues along the same path, electric vehicles have the potential to displace oil demand of two million barrels a day as early as 2023.

The key technology at the heart of these vehicles is energy storage. Whether it be the lithium-ion, lithium-air, or fuel cells – electric vehicles depend on affordable, highly efficient electrochemical energy storage to operate.

But what if the future of these vehicles depend on a different type of energy technology?

Saturday Night Live recently made a play on the future of electric vehicles by imagining a world where cars didn’t run off of a singular, efficient battery — but rather tons of AA batteries.

Check out what a car powered entirely out of AA batteries could look like.

PV Hybrid

A research team aims to make a battery and solar cell hybrid out of two single systems.
Image: Lunghammer – TU Graz

People across the globe are looking toward renewable solutions to change the landscape of energy. But what happens when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing? In order to guarantee green energy that is consistent, reliable energy storage systems are critical.

“Currently, single systems of photovoltaic cells which are connected together — mostly lead-based batteries and vast amounts of cable — are in use,” said Ilie Hanzu, TU Graz professor and past member of ECS. “We want to make a battery and solar cell hybrid out of two single systems which is not only able to convert electrical energy, but also store it.”

The idea of a battery and solar cell hybrid is completely novel scientific territory. With this project, entitled SolaBat, the team hopes to develop a product that has commercial applications. For this, the scientists will have to develop the perfect combination of functional materials.

“In the hybrid system, high-performance materials share their tasks in the solar cell and in the battery,” Hanzu said. “We need materials that reliably fulfill their respective tasks and that are also electrochemically compatible with other materials so that they work together in one device.”

(more…)

Sustainable Battery

The new carbon-based material for sodium-ion batteries can be extracted from apples.
Image: KIT

The saying goes: an apple a day keeps the doctor away; but in this case, an apple may be the answer to the next generation of energy storage technology.

ECS member Stefano Passerini of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology is leading a study to extract carbon-based materials for sodium-ion batteries from organic apple waste.

Developing batteries from waste

This new development could help reduce the costs of future energy storage systems by applying a cheap material with excellent electrochemical properties to the already promising field of sodium-ion batteries.

(MORE: Read more research by Passerini.)

Many researchers are currently looking to sodium-ion batteries as the next generation of energy storage, with the ability to outpace the conventional lithium-ion battery.

The future of sodium-ion batteries

Interest in sodium-ion batteries dates back to the 1980s, but discoveries haven’t taken off until recently. Researchers are now finding way to combat low energy densities and short life cycles through using novel materials such as apples.

(MORE: Read the full paper in ChemElectroChem.)

Sodium-ion batteries could prove to be the next big thing in large scale energy storage due to the high abundance of materials used in development and the relatively low costs involved.

(more…)

Who’s Talking Energy Conversion & Storage?

E2S-speakersThere are just eight days left to submit your abstracts for the 229th ECS Meeting! Make sure to submit by December 11, 2015.

Submit today!

Topic Close-up #5
SYMPOSIUM I05: Heterogeneous Functional Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage.

FOCUSED ON the science that controls emergent properties in heterogeneous functional materials as a foundation for design of functional material devices with performance not bounded by constituent properties.

PROVIDING a unique venue for both contributed and invited speakers to present the latest advances in novel modeling approaches, advanced 3-D imaging and characterization techniques, novel material synthesis and manufacturing methods to create highly ordered material structure, and applications of heterogeneous functional materials in devices for energy conversion and storage. This symposium especially encourages and welcomes contributed presentations.

(more…)

The fifth international Electrochemical Energy Summit recently took place during the 228th ECS Meeting. From environmental damage to economic implications to political involvement, the summit served as a forum for the top researchers in energy technology to discuss the most pressing issues in renewable energy and inspire technological solutions.

During the summit, we gathered some key speakers from energy research institutions across the U.S. to talk about challenges in energy storage, roadblocks for implementing renewables, and the role government plays in changing the energy infrastructure.

The podcast is moderated by ECS vice president Krishnan Rajeshwar, with guests David Wesolowski, The Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport (FIRST) Energy Frontier Research Center; M. Stanley Whittingham, NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NECCES); Gary Rubloff, Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES) Energy Frontier Research Center; and Paul Fenter, Center for Electrochemical Energy Science (CEES).

Listen and download this episode and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.