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Transportation Storage

University of Colorado, Boulder

Anion Channel Membranes

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) will develop a new type of anion-exchange membrane for chloride (Cl-) transport that is based on a nanoporous lyotropic liquid crystal structure that minimizes cation crossover by molecular size-exclusion and charge exclusion. Due to a lack of suitable Cl- conducting membranes, flow batteries often use microporous membranes or cation-exchange membranes (CEM) to separate the two electrode chambers. Microporous membranes are inexpensive, but do not provide perfect barriers to intermixing of the reactants (or "crossover") that reduces the battery's efficiency and, in some cases, damages critical components. In contrast, CEMs such as Nafion provide better isolation but are far more expensive, and also permit the migration of water and protons which can change the pH (acidity) and lead to inefficiencies and undesired side reactions in the battery. This project aims to develop a low-cost separator that eliminates crossover in all-iron flow batteries. The membrane allows for ion transport via nanochannels, which are engineered to have sizes below those of common hydrated cations, thus exhibiting perfect cation rejection. In the all-iron battery, key benefits of reduced crossover include increased roundtrip efficiency as well as the reduction of pH swings and water transport, and hence the reduction or elimination of the rebalancing stacks and system management schemes. In the future, the membrane developed in this project could also be used with other lower cost redox couples, including those using two different elements as active species. The low cost, increased efficiency, and long lifetime of these membranes have the potential to significantly increase the economic viability of flow batteries.

University of Delaware

Highly Conductive, Stable and Robust Hydroxide Exchange Membranes Based on Polyaryl piperidinium

The University of Delaware (UD) with their project partners will develop a new class of hydroxide exchange membranes (HEMs) for use in electrochemical devices such as fuel cells. Hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells (HEMFC), in contrast to PEM fuel cells, can use catalysts based on low-cost metals as well as inexpensive membranes and bipolar plates. However, a low-cost HEM that simultaneously possesses adequate ion conductivity, chemical stability, and mechanical robustness does not yet exist. To address this challenge, the team has developed a family of poly(aryl piperidinium) HEMs that are highly hydroxide conductive, chemically stable, and mechanically robust. These polymers will be designed to provide unprecedented chemical stability, while simultaneously enabling high ion-exchange capacities and low swelling ratios, and mechanical robustness. A major part of the team's project will focus on enhancing the mechanical robustness of HEMs under different levels of humidity. The feasibility of roll-to-roll membrane production will be determined as part of the commercialization efforts. The proposed HEMs have the potential to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles economically competitive with gasoline-powered vehicles. 

University of Houston

Advanced Aqueous Lithium-Ion Batteries

The University of Houston is developing a battery with a new water-based, lithium-ion chemistry that makes use of sustainable, low-cost, and high-energy organic materials. Conventional lithium-ion batteries include volatile materials and chemistries that necessitate considerable packaging to ensure safety. This additional packaging results in a heavier, bulkier battery and limits where the battery can be placed within the vehicle. In contrast, the University of Houston's organic materials are readily available, safe, and non-volatile, making them ideal for use in battery construction. The University of Houston will identify, synthesize, and optimize new organic compounds for storage that are inherently safer and require less heavy shielding to safely construct them.

University of Maryland

Hybridized Mg2+/H+ Aqueous Battery for Vehicle Electrification

The University of Maryland (UMD) is using water-based magnesium and hydrogen chemistries to improve the energy density and reduce the cost of EV batteries. The lithium-ion batteries typically used in most EVs today require heavy components to protect the battery and ensure safety. Water-based batteries are an inherently safer alternative, but can be larger and heavier compared to lithium-ion batteries, making them inefficient for use in EVs. To address this, UMD's water-based battery will use a magnesium hydrogen chemistry that would double energy storage capacity, for a much lighter energy storage system. Furthermore, UMD's use of safe inexpensive materials could reduce the cost of battery management, improve reliability, and allow for operation across a wider range of temperatures.

University of Maryland

Safe, Low-Cost, High Energy-Density, Solid-State Li-Ion Batteries

The University of Maryland (UMD) is developing ceramic materials and processing methods to enable high-power, solid-state, lithium-ion batteries for use in EVs. Conventional lithium-ion batteries used in most EVs contain liquids that necessitate the use of heavy, protective components. By contrast, UMD's technology uses no liquids and offers greater abuse tolerance and reducing weight. This reduced weight leads to improved EV efficiency for greater driving range. UMD's technology also has the potential to help reduce manufacturing costs using scalable, ceramic fabrication techniques that does not require dry rooms or vacuum equipment.

University of Michigan

Transitioning Advanced Ceramic Electrolytes into Manufacturable Solid-State EV Batteries

The team led by University of Michigan will develop a ceramic electrolyte based on a ceramic oxide that is durable, offers high conductivity (e.g., it moves Li ions easily), and can be used in cells with metallic Li electrodes. The team will develop a technique to fabricate flexible sheets of electrolyte using roll-to-roll manufacturing. The team will also develop thick, solid-composite cathodes and then will integrate them with the electrolyte and a Li anode. Finally, the team will demonstrate the production of numerous cells using the new materials and techniques, and will integrate the cells into a flexible battery stack that is compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques and exhibits high energy density (900 Wh/L). This project aims to overcome the major challenges at the interfaces of solid components, including poor Li conductivity. The resulting technology could improve energy density and enable an electric vehicle to travel farther on a single charge. The technology also provides a stronger barrier between Li-ion battery electrodes that is capable of withstanding Li-dendrite intrusion to prevent shorts, thereby reducing the chance of battery failure.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Lithium-Rich Anti-Perovskites as Superionic Solid Electrolytes

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is developing a solid-state, non-flammable electrolyte to make today's Li-Ion vehicle batteries safer. Today's Li-Ion batteries use a flammable liquid electrolyte--the material responsible for shuttling Li-Ions back and forth across the battery--that can catch fire when overheated or overcharged. UNLV will replace this flammable electrolyte with a fire-resistant material called lithium-rich anti-perovskite. This new electrolyte material would help make vehicle batteries safer in an accident while also increasing battery performance by extending vehicle range and acceleration.

University of Texas, Austin

Thermal Batteries for Electric Vehicles

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) will demonstrate a high-energy density and low-cost thermal storage system that will provide efficient cabin heating and cooling for EVs. Compared to existing HVAC systems powered by electric batteries in EVs, the innovative hot-and-cold thermal batteries-based technology is expected to decrease the manufacturing cost and increase the driving range of next-generation EVs. These thermal batteries can be charged with off-peak electric power together with the electric batteries. Based on innovations in composite materials offering twice the energy density of ice and 10 times the thermal conductivity of water, these thermal batteries are expected to achieve a comparable energy density at 25% of the cost of electric batteries. Moreover, because UT Austin's thermal energy storage systems are modular, they may be incorporated into the heating and cooling systems in buildings, providing further energy efficiencies and positively impacting the emissions of current building heating/cooling systems.

University of Utah

A New Generation of High Density Thermal Battery Based on Advanced Metal Hydrides

The University of Utah is developing a compact hot-and-cold thermal battery using advanced metal hydrides that could offer efficient climate control system for EVs. The team's innovative designs of heating and cooling systems for EVs with high energy density, low-cost thermal batteries could significantly reduce the weight and eliminate the space constraint in automobiles. The thermal battery can be charged by plugging it into an electrical outlet while charging the electric battery and it produces heat and cold through a heat exchanger when discharging. The ultimate goal of the project is a climate-controlling thermal battery that can last up to 5,000 charge and discharge cycles while substantially increasing the driving range of EVs, thus reducing the drain on electric batteries.

University of Washington

Optimal Operation and Management of Batteries Based on Real-Time Predictive Modeling and Adaptive Battery Management Techniques

University of Washington (UW) is developing a predictive battery management system that uses innovative modeling software to manage how batteries are charged and discharged, helping to optimize battery use. A significant problem with today's battery packs is their lack of internal monitoring capabilities, which interferes with our ability to identify and manage performance issues as they arise. UW's system would predict the physical states internal to batteries quickly and accurately enough for the data to be used in making decisions about how to control the battery to optimize its output and efficiency in real time. UW's models could be able to predict temperature, remaining energy capacity, and progress of unwanted reactions that reduce the battery lifetime.

Utah State University

Robust Cell-level Modeling and Control of Large Battery Packs

Utah State University (USU) is developing electronic hardware and control software to create an advanced battery management system that actively maximizes the performance of each cell in a battery pack. 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. Traditionally, these issues have been managed by matching similarly performing cells at the factory level and conservative design and operation of battery packs, but this is an incomplete solution, leading to costly batching of cells and overdesign of battery packs. USU's flexible, modular, cost-effective design would represent a dramatic departure from today's systems, offering dynamic control at the cell-level to their physical limits and side stepping existing issues regarding the mismatch and uncertainty of battery cells throughout their useful life.

Washington University

Reinforced AEM Separators Based on Triblock Copolymers for Electrode-decoupled RFBs

The Washington University team will develop new membrane separators for redox flow batteries using a styrene-ethylene-butylene block copolymer. The team will investigate three types of membrane construction to achieve the high levels of ion selectivity and mechanical stability necessary for use in flow batteries. If needed, the team will also explore the addition of inorganic silica particles in the polymer membrane to enhance selectivity. While many flow batteries utilize proton exchange membrane (PEM) separators that conduct positively-charged ions, the proposed membrane in this project is an anion exchange membrane (AEM) that will conduct negatively-charged ions. An inexpensive, durable AEM will allow for improved efficiency and lower system cost in existing flow battery systems such as the iron-chromium redox flow battery as well as enabling development of new low-cost chemistries.

Xilectric, Inc.

Low-Cost Transportation Batteries

Xilectric is developing a totally new class of low-cost rechargeable batteries with a chemistry analogous to the original nickel-iron Edison battery. At the turn of the 20th century, Thomas Edison experimented with low-cost, durable nickel-iron aqueous batteries for use in EVs. Given their inability to operate in cold weather and higher cost than lead-acid batteries, Edison's batteries were eventually dismissed for automotive applications. Xilectric is reviving and re-engineering the basic chemistry of the Edison battery, using domestically abundant, environmentally friendly, and low-cost metals, such as aluminum and magnesium, as its active components. Xilectric's design would be easy to manufacture and demonstrate longer life span than today's best Li-ion batteries, enabling more widespread use of EVs.


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