Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids

Transportation Storage

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Program Description:

Today's growing demand for electricity from carbon-free, renewable resources and for alternatives to petroleum as a transportation fuel has led to a strong desire for cost-effective and durable energy storage and conversion products. The projects that make up ARPA-E's IONICS program, short for "Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids," are paving the way for technologies that overcome the limitations of current battery and fuel cell products by creating high performance separators and electrodes built with solid ion conductors. The program will focus on developing new processing methods and approaches to device integration to accelerate devices built with high performance ion-conducting solids to commercial deployment.

Innovation Need:

Electrochemical devices make it possible to store electrical energy generated from carbon-free sources, such as wind and solar power, for use at a later time. They also provide a direct path to convert chemical energy stored in materials like natural gas, hydrogen, and battery components into electricity. These capabilities are complemented by the additional benefits of high energy efficiency and scalability, making electrochemical cells suitable for small, distributable and large, centralized uses.

IONICS will focus on three main applications for ion conductors: energy storage for the transportation sector, energy storage for the electrical grid, and fuel cells for stationary power or transportation. The mass-market battery technologies used for transportation today employ liquid electrolytes due to their high conductivity, good wetting properties, and ease of device integration. Flow batteries, which offer the potential of low cost for storage times exceeding about five hours, have used an electrolyte optimized for other technologies without the full set of desired properties. And fuel cells built with alkaline liquid electrolytes have shown promise to eliminate scarce, expensive catalysts but degrade in the presence of carbon dioxide. A number of the challenges that have prevented wider deployment of these batteries and fuel cells can be addressed by developing a new generation of components built with solid ion conductors.

Potential Impact:

If successful, developments made under the IONICS program will increase the energy storage content for vehicle batteries by >30% compared to today’s Li-ion batteries, significantly reduce battery system costs (for the grid) to about $150/kWh (for a 5-hour discharge time), and reduce the cost of fuel cells for vehicles by 25% through a reduction of precious metal catalysts and expensive metal plates.


IONICS program innovations could contribute to energy storage and conversion solutions for transportation and the grid, lessening U.S. dependence on imported oil and improving grid resilience.


Greater integration of renewable resources into the power mix will reduce the need for other more carbon-intensive forms of electricity generation.


IONICS program innovations could further establish U.S. businesses as technical leaders in energy storage and conversion, encouraging greater use of readily available renewable resources and increasing the competitiveness of electric vehicles.


Program Director:
Dr. Scott Litzelman;Dr. Halle Cheeseman;Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik;Dr. Paul Albertus
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Project Listing

• 24M Technologies - Lithium Electrode Sub-Assemblies
• 3M - Polymeric Anion Exchange Membranes
• American Manufacturing - Flash Sintering System
• Colorado School of Mines - Hybrid Polyoxometalate Membranes
• Ionic Materials - Novel Polymer Electrolyte
• Iowa State University (ISU) - Glassy Solid Electrolytes
• Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) - Metastable And Glassy Ionic Conductors
• Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) - Cold Sintering Composite Structures
• PolyPlus Battery Company - Solid Electrolyte Protected LI Metal Electrodes
• Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) - Hydroxide Ion Exchange Polymers
• Sila Nanotechnologies - Melt-Infiltration Solid Electrolyte
• United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) - Smart-FBS
• University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) - Self-Forming Solid-State Batteries
• University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) - Anion Channel Membranes
• University of Delaware (UD) - Hydroxide Exchange Membranes
• Washington University - Reinforced AEM Separators