Sustainable, High-Energy Density, Low-Cost Electrochemical Energy Storage

Project: Research project

Project Details


Sustainable, High-Energy Density, Low-Cost Electrochemical Energy Storage Sustainable, High-Energy Density, Low-Cost Electrochemical Energy Storage We propose a potentially game-changing metal-air battery research and development program that will result in transformative advances in energy density, cycle life, sustainability, and cost. Metal-air cells have the potential to marry the ultra-high anode capacity (~1,000-2,000 Ah/kg) of pure metals with the air-breathing cathode of fuel cells (i.e. no oxidant storage). We will develop new battery chemistries based on rechargeable metal-air cathodes, metallic anodes and ionic liquid electrolytes that will revolutionize rechargeable energy storage. It may be possible in some of these Metal-Air Ionic Liquid (MAIL) cells to achieve energy densities as high as 3000 Wh/kg. The possibility of making a primary cell at this energy density is transformative; a secondary cell at this energy density would change the world We envision a tightly knit university-industry collaboration: generating jobs now, producing PhDs in renewable energy for the future, and enhancing the rate return of the ARPA-E investment. This program will uniquely integrate physical electrochemists in academia and engineers with years of experience optimizing metal-air cells in industry (Fluidic Energy, Inc, a spin-out company of this group), see Figure 1. The goal is to aggressively evolve the science that enables development of MAIL batteries! and to expeditiously translate that science to engineers and a pilot-scale production facility for process engineering and product development. While this program is early-stage, our vision is to co-develop the science with the practical engineering to fast-track translation to commercial viability. The high level goals of this program are to create a measurably viable, highly safe, earth abundant and geo-politically sustainable, low cost technology. The safety attribute is especially important for transportation-based applications where large energies are stored under aggressive conditions. MAIL batteries will have unparalleled safety because, unlike traditional batteries that have energy densities comparable to the explosive charges in munitions, they do not store both oxidant and reductant in the same space. Thus, the runaway reactions that can drive rapid and catastrophic energy release from traditional batteries are not possible in MAIL cells. The proposed MAIL Battery attribute goals are an energy density between 900 and 3000 Wh/kg, power density between 150 and 400 W/ltr, a cycle life goal of 100 cycles during the 24-month program and an eventual goal of 2600 cycle life, a round trip efficiency target of70-80% during the program with a trajectory to 90% RTE, and a self-discharge rate of 5%/month under storage conditions and 10%/month under "active use". We have calculated that these metrics should be achievable at a cost of 20 /Wh at moderate scale and 10-15 /Wh at substantial scale. All of these figures are examined in detail in this proposal. The transformational nature of this program extends beyond safety and energy density. By developing a battery chemistry from the outset with a focus on sustainability and domestic interests, we have the potential to make transportation both cost effective and to break the cycle of geopolitical liability with respect to fossil fuels and (on the horizon) non-domestic and narrowly located Li-reserves. Additionally, the cost and environmental impact metrics of current energy storage technologies are the dominant reasons that large-scale renewable installations have not adopted storage to firm those resources. Concomitantly, renewables are inherently intermittent sources of energy, substantially limiting the ability to grid-connect large installations and the penetration of renewables as a major energy contributor. Therefore, while storage is the key to broad adoption and grid-connection, a negative feedback loop exists between the lack of a firm energy source and the lack of a low-cost storage device. When the technical attributes of the
Effective start/end date12/21/096/30/12


  • DOE: Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E): $5,133,150.00


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