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Transportation Storage

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Battery Management System with Distributed Wireless Sensors

LLNL is developing a wireless sensor system to improve the safety and reliability of lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery systems by monitoring key operating parameters of Li-Ion cells and battery packs. This system can be used to control battery operation and provide early indicators of battery failure. LLNL's design will monitor every cell within a large Li-Ion battery pack without the need for large bundles of cables to carry sensor signals to the battery management system. This wireless sensor network will dramatically reduce system cost, improve operational performance, and detect battery pack failures in real time, enabling a path to cheaper, better, and safer large-scale batteries.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

HybriSol Hybrid Nanostructures for High-Energy-Density Solar Thermal Fuels

MIT is developing a thermal energy storage device that captures energy from the sun; this energy can be stored and released at a later time when it is needed most. Within the device, the absorption of sunlight causes the solar thermal fuel's photoactive molecules to change shape, which allows energy to be stored within their chemical bonds. A trigger is applied to release the stored energy as heat, where it can be converted into electricity or used directly as heat. The molecules would then revert to their original shape, and can be recharged using sunlight to begin the process anew. MIT's technology would be 100% renewable, rechargeable like a battery, and emissions-free. Devices using these solar thermal fuels--called HybriSol--can also be used without a grid infrastructure for applications such as de-icing, heating, cooking, and water purification.

Missouri University of Science and Technology

High Performance Cathodes for Lithium-Air Batteries

Researchers at Missouri S&T are developing an affordable lithium-air (Li-Air) battery that could enable an EV to travel up to 350 miles on a single charge. Today's EVs run on Li-Ion batteries, which are expensive and suffer from low energy density compared with gasoline. This new Li-Air battery could perform as well as gasoline and store 3 times more energy than current Li-Ion batteries. A Li-Air battery uses an air cathode to breathe oxygen into the battery from the surrounding air, like a human lung. The oxygen and lithium react in the battery to produce electricity. Current Li-Air batteries are limited by the rate at which they can draw oxygen from the air. The team is designing a battery using hierarchical electrode structures to enhance air breathing and effective catalysts to accelerate electricity production.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

High Energy, Long Life Organic Battery with Quick Charge Capability

NREL is developing a low-cost battery system that uses safe and inexpensive organic energy storage materials that can be pumped in and out of the system. NREL's battery, known as a "liquid-phase organic redox system," uses newly developed non-flammable compounds from biological sources to reduce cost while improving the amount of energy that can be stored. The battery's unique construction will enable a 5-minute "fast-charge" and promote long life by allowing for the rapid replacement of liquid electrodes. NREL anticipates an energy density of approximately 590 watt hours per liter with a cost of only $72 per kilowatt hour.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Safe Impact Resistant Electrolyte (SAFIRE)

ORNL is developing an electrolyte for use in EV batteries that changes from liquid to solid during collisions, eliminating the need for many of the safety components found in today's batteries. Today's batteries contain a flammable electrolyte and an expensive polymer separator to prevent electrical shorts--in an accident, the separator must prevent the battery positive and negative ends of the battery from touching each other and causing fires or other safety problems. ORNL's new electrolyte would undergo a phase change--from liquid to solid--in the event of an external force such as a collision. This phase change would produce a solid impenetrable barrier that prevents electrical shorts, eliminating the need for a separator. This would improve the safety and reduce the weight of the vehicle battery system, ultimately resulting in increased driving range.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Lithium Ion Battery with Integrated Abuse Tolerant Electrode Features

ORNL is developing an abuse-tolerant EV battery. Abuse tolerance is a key factor for EV batteries. Robust batteries allow for a broader range of battery chemistries, including low-cost chemistries that could improve driving range and enable cost parity with gas-powered vehicles. ORNL's design would improve battery abuse tolerance at the cell level, thereby reducing the need for heavy protective battery housing. This will enable an EV system that would be lighter and more efficient, both reducing weight and cost and allowing the vehicle to drive further on each charge. ORNL will be researching a new architecture within each cell that will reduce the likelihood of a thermal damage in the event of an abuse situation. The new architecture incorporates a novel foil concept into the battery current collectors. In event of impact, crushing or penetration of the battery, the novel current collector will limit the connectivity and/or conductivity of the battery electrode assembly and hence limit the current at the site of an internal or external short. Limiting the current will avoid the local heating that can trigger thermal excitation and battery damage.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Metastable And Glassy Ionic Conductors (MAGIC)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will develop glassy Li-ion conductors that are electrochemically and mechanically stable against lithium metal and can be integrated into full battery cells. Metallic lithium anodes could significantly improve the energy density of batteries versus today's state-of-the-art lithium ion cells. ORNL has chosen glass as a solid barrier because the lack of grain boundaries in glass mitigates the growth of branchlike metal fibers called dendrites, which short-circuit battery cells. The team aims to identify a glassy electrolyte with high conductivity, explore novel and cost-effective ways to fabricate this thin glass electrolyte, and design electrolyte membranes that are sufficiently robust to prevent cracking and degradation during battery fabrication and cycling. Advanced glass processing using rapid quench methods will enable a range of compositions and microstructures as well as their cost-effective fabrication as thin, dense membranes. In addition to glass composition, a range of membrane designs will be investigated by modeling and experiment. For efficient battery fabrication, the glassy membrane will likely require mechanical support and protection, which could be achieved by employing polymers or ceramic layers as a support.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Temperature Self-Regulation for Large-Format Li-Ion cells

ORNL is developing an innovative battery design to more effectively regulate destructive isolated hot-spots that develop within a battery during use and eventually lead to degradation of the cells. Today's batteries are not fully equipped to monitor and regulate internal temperatures, which can negatively impact battery performance, life-time, and safety. ORNL's design would integrate efficient temperature control at each layer inside lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery cells. In addition to monitoring temperatures, the design would provide active cooling and temperature control deep within the cell, which would represent a dramatic improvement over today's systems, which tend to cool only the surface of the cells. The elimination of cell surface cooling and achievement of internal temperature regulation would have significant impact on battery performance, life-time, and safety.

Palo Alto Research Center

Smart Embedded Network of Sensors with Optical Readout (SENSOR)

PARC is developing new fiber optic sensors that would be embedded into batteries to monitor and measure key internal parameters during charge and discharge cycles. Two significant problems with today's best batteries are their lack of internal monitoring capabilities and their design oversizing. The lack of monitoring interferes with the ability to identify and manage performance or safety issues as they arise, which are presently managed by very conservative design oversizing and protection approaches that result in cost inefficiencies. PARC's design combines low-cost, embedded optical battery sensors and smart algorithms to overcome challenges faced by today's best battery management systems. These advanced fiber optic sensing technologies have the potential to dramatically improve the safety, performance, and life-time of energy storage systems.

Palo Alto Research Center

Printed Integral Batteries

PARC is developing a new way to manufacture Li-Ion batteries that reduces manufacturing costs and improves overall battery performance. Traditionally, Li-Ion manufacturers make each layer of the battery separately and then integrate the layers together. PARC is working to manufacture a Li-ion battery by printing each layer simultaneously into an integrated battery, thereby streamlining the manufacturing process. Additionally, the battery structure includes narrow stripes inside the layers that increase the battery's overall energy storage. Together, these innovations should allow the production of higher capacity batteries at dramatically lower manufacturing costs compared to today's Li-ion batteries.

Pellion Technologies

Low-Cost Rechargeable Magnesium Batteries with High Energy Density

Pellion Technologies is developing rechargeable magnesium batteries that would enable an EV to travel 3 times farther than it could using Li-ion batteries. Prototype magnesium batteries demonstrate excellent electrochemical behavior, delivering thousands of charge cycles with very little fade. Nevertheless, these prototypes have always stored too little energy to be commercially viable. Pellion Technologies is working to overcome this challenge by rapidly screening potential storage materials using proprietary, high-throughput computer models. To date, 12,000 materials have been identified and analyzed. The resulting best materials have been electrochemically tested, yielding several very promising candidates.

Pennsylvania State University

Cold Sintering Composite Structures for Solid Lithium Ion Conductors

The Pennsylvania State University will develop a process for cold-sintering of ceramic ion conductors below 200°C to achieve a commercially viable process for integration into batteries. Compared to liquid electrolytes, ceramics and ceramic composites exhibit various advantages, such as lower flammability, and larger electrochemical and thermal stability. One challenge with traditional ceramics is the propagation of lithium dendrites, branchlike metal fibers that short-circuit battery cells. Penn State will create ceramic and ceramic/polymer composite electrolytes that resist dendrite growth by creating optimized microstructures via cold sintering. Sintering is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass by heat and/or pressure without melting it to the point of changing it to a liquid, similar to pressing a snowball together from loose snow. However, the high temperature required for traditional sintering of ceramics limits opportunities for integration in electrochemical systems and leads to high processing costs. Cold-sintering below 200°C changes the ability to control grain boundaries within ceramic materials, creates opportunities to tune interfaces, and opens the door for integration of different materials. It also allows large area co-processing of organic and inorganic materials in a one-step process, leading to savings in fabricating costs by eliminating the separate ceramic sintering steps and high-temperature processing.

Pennsylvania State University

A Multi-Purpose, Intelligent, and Reconfigurable Battery Pack Health Management System

Penn State is developing an innovative, reconfigurable design for electric vehicle battery packs that can re-route power in real time between individual cells. Much like how most cars carry a spare tire in the event of a blowout, today's battery packs contain extra capacity to continue supplying power, managing current, and maintaining capacity as cells age and degrade. Some batteries carry more than 4 times the capacity needed to maintain operation, or the equivalent of mounting 16 tires on a vehicle in the event that one tire goes flat. This overdesign is expensive and inefficient. Penn State's design involves unique methods of electrical reconfigurability to enable the battery pack to switch out cells as they age and weaken. The system would also contain control hardware elements to monitor and manage power across cells, identify damaged cells, and signal the need to switch them out of the circuit.

Pennsylvania State University

PowerPanels: Multifunctional Composites with Li-Ion Battery Cores

Penn State is using a new fabrication process to build load-bearing lithium-ion batteries that could be used as structural components of electric vehicles. Conventional batteries remain independent of a vehicle's structure and require heavy protective components that reduce the energy to weight ratio of a vehicle. PowerPanels combine the structural components with a functional battery for an overall reduction in weight. Penn State's PowerPanels use a "jelly roll" design that winds battery components together in a configuration that is strong and stiff enough to be used as a structural component. The result of this would be a low-profile battery usable as a panel on the floor of a vehicle.

Planar Energy Devices, Inc.

Solid-State Large Format All Inorganic Lithium Batteries

Planar Energy is developing a new production process where lithium-ion batteries would be printed as a thin film onto sheets of metal or plastic. Thin-film printing methods could revolutionize battery manufacturing, allowing for smaller, lighter, and cheaper EV batteries. Typically, a battery's electrolyte--the material that actually stores energy within the cell--is a liquid or semi-liquid; this makes them unsuitable for use in thin-film printing. Planar is working with a ceramic-based gel electrolyte that is better suited for printing. The electrolyte would be printed onto large reels of metal or plastic along with other battery components. Once printed, these reels can be cut up into individual cells and wired together to make battery packs. By reducing packaging materials with this unique production process, Planar's efficient Li-Ion battery design would allow more space for storing energy--at a far lower cost--than today's best Li-Ion battery designs.

PolyPlus Battery Company

Development of Ultra High Specific Energy Rechargeable Lithium-Air Batteries Based on Protected Lithium Metal Electrodes

PolyPlus is developing the world's first commercially available rechargeable lithium-air (Li-Air) battery. Li-Air batteries are better than the Li-Ion batteries used in most EVs today because they breathe in air from the atmosphere for use as an active material in the battery, which greatly decreases its weight. Li-Air batteries also store nearly 700% as much energy as traditional Li-Ion batteries. A lighter battery would improve the range of EVs dramatically. PolyPlus is on track to making a critical breakthrough: the first manufacturable protective membrane between its lithium-based negative electrode and the reaction chamber where it reacts with oxygen from the air. This gives the battery the unique ability to recharge by moving lithium in and out of the battery's reaction chamber for storage until the battery needs to discharge once again. Until now, engineers had been unable to create the complex packaging and air-breathing components required to turn Li-Air batteries into rechargeable systems.

PolyPlus Battery Company

Flexible Solid Electrolyte Protected Lithium Metal Electrodes for Next Generation Batteries

The PolyPlus Battery Company in collaboration with SCHOTT Glass will develop flexible, solid-electrolyte-protected lithium metal electrodes made by the lamination of lithium metal foil to thin solid electrolyte membranes that are highly conductive. Past efforts to improve lithium cycling by moving to solid-state structures based on polycrystalline ceramics have found limited success due to initiation and propagation of dendrites, which are branchlike metal fibers that short-circuit battery cells. A major benefit of the PolyPlus concept is that the lithium electrode is bonded to a "nearly flawless" glass surface which is devoid of grain boundaries or sufficiently large surface defects through which dendrites can initiate and propagate. These thin and flexible solid electrolyte membranes will be laminated to lithium metal foils, which can then be used to replace the graphite electrode and separators in commercial Li-ion batteries. The team's approach is based on electrolyte films made by commercial melt processing techniques, and they will work in close cooperation to develop compositions and processes suitable for high-volume, low-cost production of the lithium/glass laminate. The SCHOTT team will focus on glass composition and its relationship to physical properties while the PolyPlus team will determine electrochemical properties of the glass and provide this information to SCHOTT to further refine the glass composition. PolyPlus will also develop the Li/glass lamination process and work with the SCHOTT team on manufacturing and scale-up using high volume roll-to-roll processing.

Princeton University

Fast, Aqueous Multiple Electron Ubiquitous Systems for Robust, Affordable Next Generation EV-Storage (FAMEUS RANGE)

Alkaline batteries are used in a variety of electronic devices today because of their ability to hold considerable energy, for a long time, at a low cost. In order to create alkaline batteries suitable for EVs, Princeton will use its expertise in alkaline battery systems examine a variety of suitable positive and negative electrode chemistries. Princeton will then select and experiment with those chemistries that show promise, using computational models to better understand their potential cycle life and storage capacities. Once a promising chemistry has been settled on, Princeton will build and test a prototype battery for an EV.

Purdue University

Crash Safety of Batteries for Passenger Vehicle

Purdue University is developing an EV battery pack that can better withstand impact during a collision. In contrast to today's EV battery packs that require heavy packaging to ensure safety, Purdue's pack stores energy like a standard battery but is also designed to absorb the shock from an accident, prevents battery failure, and mitigates the risk of personal injury. Batteries housed in protective units are arranged in an interlocking configuration to create an impact energy dissipation device. Should a collision occur, the assemblies of the encased battery units rub against each other, thereby absorbing impact energy and preserving the integrity of the battery pack. Purdue will build a prototype protective casing, create a battery array of several battery units using this design, and study the dynamic behavior of battery units under impact in order to develop a novel EV battery pack.

Recapping, Inc.

High Energy Density Capacitors

Recapping is developing a capacitor that could rival the energy storage potential and price of today's best EV batteries. When power is needed, the capacitor rapidly releases its stored energy, similar to lightning being discharged from a cloud. Capacitors are an ideal substitute for batteries if their energy storage capacity can be improved. Recapping is addressing storage capacity by experimenting with the material that separates the positive and negative electrodes of its capacitors. These separators could significantly improve the energy density of electrochemical devices.

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