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Transportation Storage

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Channeling Engineering of Hydroxide Ion Exchange Polymers and Reinforced Membranes

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) will develop hydroxide ion-conducting polymers that are chemically and mechanically stable for use in anion exchange membranes (AEM). Unlike PEMs, AEMs can be used in an alkaline environment and can use inexpensive, non-precious metal catalysts such as nickel. Simultaneously achieving high ion conductivity and mechanical stability has been a challenge because high ion exchange capacity causes swelling, which degrades the system's mechanical strength. To solve this problem, the team plans to decouple the structural units of the AEM that are responsible for ion conduction and mechanical properties, so that each can contribute to the overall properties of the AEM. The team will also use channel engineering to provide a direct path for ion transport, with minimal room for water, in order to achieve high ion conductivity with low swelling. If successful, the team hopes to create a pathway to the first commercial hydroxide ion exchange membrane products suitable for electrochemical energy conversion technologies.

Revolt Technology, LLC

Zinc Flow Air Battery (ZFAB), The Next Generation of Energy Storage for Transportation

ReVolt Technology is developing a rechargeable zinc-air battery that could offer 300-500% more storage capacity than today's Li-Ion batteries at half their cost. Zinc-air batteries could be much more inexpensive, lightweight, and energy dense than Li-Ion batteries because air--one of the battery's main reactants--does not need to be housed inside the battery. This frees up more space for storage. Zinc-air batteries have not been commercially viable for use in EVs because they typically cannot be recharged, complicating vehicle "refueling". ReVolt has designed a system whereby the battery's zinc-based negative electrode is suspended in liquid and passed through a tube that functions as the battery's positive electrode. This allows the device to charge and discharge just like a regular battery.

Robert Bosch, LLC

Advanced Battery Management System

Robert Bosch is developing battery monitoring and control software to improve the capacity, safety, and charge rate of electric vehicle batteries. Conventional methods for preventing premature aging and failures in electric vehicle batteries involve expensive and heavy overdesign of the battery and tend to result in inefficient use of available battery capacity. Bosch would increase usable capacity and enhance charging rates by improving the ability to estimate battery health in real-time, to predict and manage the impact of charge and discharge cycles on battery health, and to minimize battery degradation.

Sheetak, Inc.

Thermoelectric Reactors for Efficient Automotive Thermal Storage (TREATS)

Sheetak is developing a new HVAC system to store the energy required for heating and cooling in EVs. This system will replace the traditional refrigerant-based vapor compressors and inefficient heaters used in today's EVs with efficient, light, and rechargeable hot-and-cold thermal batteries. The high energy density thermal battery--which does not use any hazardous substances--can be recharged by an integrated solid-state thermoelectric energy converter while the vehicle is parked and its electrical battery is being charged. Sheetak's converters can also run on the electric battery if needed and provide the required cooling and heating to the passengers--eliminating the space constraint and reducing the weight of EVs that use more traditional compressors and heaters.

Sila Nanotechnologies, Inc.

Doubling the Energy Density Anodes of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Transportation

Sila Nanotechnologies is developing a high-throughput technology for scalable synthesis of high-capacity nanostructured materials for Li-Ion EV batteries. The successful implementation of this technology will allow improvements in energy storage capacity of today's best batteries at half the cost. In contrast to other high-capacity material synthesis technologies, Sila's materials show minimal volume changes during the battery operation, which is a key challenge of next-generation battery anode materials. In addition, Sila's technology may allow for the dramatic enhancements of the batteries' cycle life, structural stability, safety, and charging rate. The low-cost, drop-in compatibility with existing cell manufacturing technologies, and environmental friendliness of both the material synthesis and electrode fabrication will assist in the rapid adoption of Sila's technology. Coupling increased battery capacity with substantial cost reduction could alleviate the driving range anxiety and price problems associated with today's EVs. Increasing the capacity of battery electrodes is critical to lowering the cost of Li-Ion batteries and making EVs cost-competitive with gasoline-based vehicles.

Sila Nanotechnologies, Inc.

Melt-Infiltration Solid Electrolyte Technology for Solid State Lithium Batteries

Sila Nanotechnologies will develop solid-state ceramic lithium batteries with high energy density. Traditional methods using ceramic electrolytes significantly reduces a battery's volumetric energy density because the materials are relatively bulky. Commercially produced separator membranes are also expensive and thick because of challenges in fabrication and handling of thinner, defect-free solid-state electrolyte membranes. In addition, such membranes are often air sensitive, have low ionic conductivity, and are susceptible to the growth of branchlike metal fibers called dendrites. Unimpeded, dendrites can grow to span the space between the negative and positive electrodes, causing short-circuiting. To overcome these limitations the team proposes a shift in solid-state battery technology: melt-infiltrating of a solid-state electrolyte at moderate temperatures into a porous separator-cathode stack. This reduces cell volume by nearly three times, while resulting in a corresponding increase in energy density and cost-reduction. The result is a product with low cost and high production yield, built on a process similar to conventional organic electrolyte-filling techniques. The equipment for this process will be very similar to what is currently used in Li-ion battery manufacturing, except that it will be slightly modified for operation at elevated temperatures of up to 250-400°C. The use of equipment similar to what is currently used by industry will reduce the risks of technology scale-up.

Sion Power Company

Development of High Energy Lithium-Sulfur Cells for Electric Vehicle Applications

Sion Power is developing a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery, a potentially cost-effective alternative to the Li-Ion battery that could store 400% more energy per pound. All batteries have 3 key parts--a positive and negative electrode and an electrolyte--that exchange ions to store and release electricity. Using different materials for these components changes a battery's chemistry and its ability to power a vehicle. Traditional Li-S batteries experience adverse reactions between the electrolyte and lithium-based negative electrode that ultimately limit the battery to less than 50 charge cycles. Sion Power will sandwich the lithium- and sulfur-based electrode films around a separator that protects the negative electrode and increases the number of charges the battery can complete in its lifetime. The design could eventually allow for a battery with 400% greater storage capacity per pound than Li-Ion batteries and the ability to complete more than 500 recharge cycles.

Solid Power, Inc.

An Ultra High Energy, Safe and Low Cost All Solid-State Rechargeable Battery for Electric Vehicles

Solid Power is developing a new low-cost, all-solid-state battery for EVs with greater energy storage capacity and a lighter, safer design compared to lithium-ion batteries. Conventional batteries are expensive, perform poorly at high temperatures and require heavy protective components to ensure safety. In contrast, Solid Power's liquid-free cells store more energy for their size and weight, but use non-flammable and non-volatile materials that are stable high temperatures. This results in improved safety in the event of a collision or fire. Additionally, Solid Power plans to use low-cost, abundant materials in the range of $10-$20/kg that could reduce battery manufacturing costs, to help drive down the cost of EVs.

Southwest Research Institute

Novel SOC and SOH Estimation Through Sensor Technology

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is developing a battery management system to track the performance characteristics of lithium-ion batteries during charge and discharge cycles to help analyze battery capacity and health. No two battery cells are alike--they differ over their life-times in terms of charge and discharge rates, capacity, and temperature characteristics, among other things. In SwRI's design, a number of strain gauges would be strategically placed on the cells to monitor their state of charges and overall health during operation. This could help reduce the risk of batteries being over-charged and over-discharged. This novel sensing technique should allow the battery to operate within safe limits and prolong its cycle life. SwRI is working to develop complex algorithms and advanced circuitry to help demonstrate the potential of these sensing technologies at the battery-pack level.

Stanford University

Robust Multifunctional Battery Chassis Systems for Automotive Applications

Stanford University is developing an EV battery that can be used as a structural component of the vehicle. Today's EV battery packs only serve one purpose: electrical energy storage. They do not carry structural loads during operation or absorb impact energy in the event of a collision. Stanford's new battery design would improve upon existing technologies in four key areas: 1) structural capabilities, 2) damage and state sensing systems, 3) novel battery management and thermal regulation, and 4) high-capacity battery cells. Stanford's research will result in a multifunctional battery chassis system that is safe and achieves high efficiency in terms of energy storage at low production cost. The integration of such a battery system would result in decreased overall weight of the combined vehicle and battery, for greater EV range.

Stanford University

The All-Electron Battery: A Quantum Leap Forward in Energy Storage

Stanford University is developing an all-electron battery that would create a completely new class of energy storage devices for EVs. Stanford's all-electron battery stores energy by moving electrons rather than ions. Electrons are lighter and faster than the ion charge carriers in conventional Li-Ion batteries. Stanford's all-electron battery also uses an advanced structural design that separates critical battery functions, which increases both the life of the battery and the amount of energy it can store. The battery could be charged 1000s of times without showing a significant drop in performance.

Tai-Yang Research Company

Novel, Low-Cost, High-Field Conductor for Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage

Tai-Yang Research Company (TYRC) is developing a superconducting cable, which is a key enabling component for a grid-scale magnetic energy storage device. Superconducting magnetic energy storage systems have not established a commercial foothold because of their relatively low energy density and the high cost of the superconducting material. TYRC is coating their cable in yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO) to increase its energy density. This unique, proprietary cable could be manufactured at low cost because it requires less superconducting material to produce the same level of energy storage as today's best cables.

Tetramer Technologies, L.L.C.

Novel High Peformance Anionic Exchange Membranes with Enhanced Stability High Temperatures

Tetramer Technologies will develop an anion exchange membrane (AEM) as an alternative to proton exchange membranes (PEM) for use in fuel cells and electrolyzers. The team will test a newly developed AEM for stability in alkaline conditions at a temperature of 80°C, enhanced ion conductivity, controlled membrane swelling, and other required properties. Industry has not yet achieved a cost-effective, commercially viable AEM with long-term chemical and physical stability. If such AEMs could be developed, then AEM-fuel cells could use inexpensive, non-precious metal catalysts, as opposed to expensive metal catalysts like platinum. Platinum in PEM fuel cells accounts for close to 50% of the total fuel cell stack cost at high volume, while the acid-resistant bipolar plates account for an additional 22% of the total stack cost. In alkaline conditions, switching precious metals for cheaper metal catalysts could reduce stack costs by an estimated 50%, which would result in a 25% lower overall vehicle fuel cell system cost. If successful, the team's polymers could produce a pathway toward dramatically cheaper fuel cells that exhibit comparable or better performance to today's fuel cells.

United Technologies Research Center

Thermal Storage Using Hybrid Vapor Compression Adsorption System

United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) is developing a new climate-control system for EVs that uses a hybrid vapor compression adsorption system with thermal energy storage. The targeted, closed system will use energy during the battery-charging step to recharge the thermal storage, and it will use minimal power to provide cooling or heating to the cabin during a drive cycle. The team will use a unique approach of absorbing a refrigerant on a metal salt, which will create a lightweight, high-energy-density refrigerant. This unique working pair can operate indefinitely as a traditional vapor compression heat pump using electrical energy, if desired. The project will deliver a hot-and-cold battery that provides comfort to the passengers using minimal power, substantially extending the driving range of EVs.

United Technologies Research Center

Synergistic Membranes And Reactants for a Transformative Flow Battery System (SMART FBS)

United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) will develop a redox flow battery system that combines next-generation reactants with an inexpensive and highly selective membrane. This SMART-FBS project addresses the two highest cost components in redox flow battery systems: reactants and membranes. The team plans to develop these two components simultaneously using core materials that will work in tandem. Polymer membranes will be developed that include benzimidazole or pyridine structures; ionic conductivity will come from the membrane's structure that allows acid to be imbibed into the polymer. This approach will allow for the use of a low-cost polymer that is durable, selective, and highly conductive. The new reactants will be large organic molecules based upon an extensive theoretical library of potential reactants that has already been established. Multiple membranes and reactants enable a variety of technology options, which should increase the likelihood of success. The project integrates and leverages benefits from each of the team members including: UTRC's state-of-the-art redox flow battery cell performance; innovations in membranes from the University of South Carolina; TPS polymers and membrane-manufacturing capabilities of Advent Technologies; novel active materials based on Harvard University's large library of organic reactants; and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory's proficiency in characterizing and modeling transport in ion-exchange membranes. If successful, the team's innovations will enable widespread deployment of redox flow batteries for grid-scale electrical energy storage.

University of California, Los Angeles

Safe Aqueous-Based High-Performance Electrochemical Energy Storage

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is developing a new high-power, long-life, acid-based battery that addresses the cycle life issues associated with lead-acid batteries today. Lead-acid batteries are used extensively in gasoline-powered vehicles and even modern electric vehicles for initial ignition, but inevitably wear out after a limited number of complete discharge cycles. To solve this problem, UCLA will incorporate novel, newly-discovered material that allows the battery to store a greater electrical charge using a conventional battery design. This new battery would provide up to 500 times more charge and discharge cycles and up to 10 times the power of existing lead-acid batteries. UCLA's batteries will be compatible with comparable manufacturing processes for current lead-acid batteries, allowing for rapid, low-cost commercialization.

University of California, San Diego

Developing Low-Cost, Robust, and Multifunctional Battery System for Electric Vehicles - A Non-Chemical Approach

The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) is developing a new battery that can be built into a vehicle frame. Conventional electric vehicle batteries are constructed independently of chassis, which results in a heavier, more inefficient vehicle. By rethinking auto frame design and incorporating the battery into the frame, vehicles can be cheaper and lighter vehicle. Since conventional batteries require potentially flammable materials, UC San Diego will also explore new chemistries to make this multifunctional battery safe in the event of a collision. This approach may require a complete redesign to the auto frame with consideration of adaptability to future battery technologies.

University of California, San Diego

Novel Electrolytes Via Compressed Gas Solvent for Higher Voltage

The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) is developing an early-stage concept for an advanced electrochemical energy storage system. If successful, the new approach would enable higher-energy density and higher-power systems that are able to operate over a much wider temperature and voltage range than today's technologies. Similar to how water is used as a suspension medium for the acid in a conventional lead-acid car battery, the research team is studying the use of certain gases liquefied under pressure as solvents in novel electrolyte systems. The team's work will enhance our understanding of the electrochemical mechanisms involved, and demonstrate their energy storage and cycling capabilities. The work will evaluate the new electrolyte solvents for safety, non-toxicity, non-flammability, performance and cost compared to the traditional organic solvents used today.

University of California, San Diego

Self-Forming Solid-State Batteries

The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), in partnership with Liox Power and the University of Maryland, will develop a self-forming, high temperature solid-state lithium battery that solves the critical cost and performance problems impeding commercialization of solid-state batteries for electric vehicles. The battery will possess a very long life due to a chemical mechanism that repairs cycling damage automatically. This self-healing electrolyte will also limit the growth of dendrites. Dendrites are branchlike metal fibers that can grow to span the space between the negative and positive electrodes, thereby causing a short circuit. The team plans to reduce costs by designing a manufacturing process for forming solid-state electrolytes and cathodes in a single step by depositing a graded lithium/phosphorous/sulfur composite material as both the cathode and electrolyte. In theory, this composition should be able to remove any deformations due to dendrite formation by a simple thermal cycling process. A non-flammable polymer used within this composite will both add structural strength and eliminate the need for flammable liquid electrolytes. The team projects that the battery will cost half of current lithium-ion batteries while doubling the energy density.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Highly Powerful Capacitors Boosted with Both Anolyte and Catholyte

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is developing an energy storage device for HEVs that combines the properties of capacitors and batteries in one technology. Capacitors enjoy shorter charging times, better durability, and higher power than batteries, but offer less than 5% of their energy density. By integrating the two technologies, UCSB's design would offer a much reduced charge time with a product lifetime that matches or surpasses that of typical EV batteries. Additionally, the technology would deliver significantly higher power density than any current battery. This feature would extend EV driving range and provide a longer life expectancy than today's best EV batteries.


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