By David Unger
Facebook and Google personalized the news. Uber and Lyft tailored transportation to individual needs.
Now, advances in battery technology promise to introduce a similar kind of customization and independence into energy, says George Crabtree, director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), based at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois.
Crabtree oversees a team of scientists and researchers across five national labs, 10 universities and five private-sector partners looking to dramatically improve energy storage technology. Founded in 2012 with a $120-million award from the Department of Energy, JCESR (pronounced JAY-caesar) has the ambitious 5-year goal of developing battery prototypes five times as energy-dense as today’s commercial batteries at one-fifth the cost (“5-5-5” for short).
Today’s lithium-ion batteries ushered in the consumer electronics revolution back in the 1990s, and they dominate the current small but growing electric-vehicle market. Many believe more advanced battery technologies – lithium sulfur or lithium air, for example – are needed to meet the unique demands of transportation and utility applications.
JCESR aims to develop its battery prototypes using these beyond-lithium-ion technologies while also creating a library of fundamental research and accelerating the process of converting promising prototypes into commercial products.
There is a big potential market for these kinds of applications. Batteries in personal electronics make up just 2 percent of US energy use, while the electric grid accounts for 70 percent of US energy use, according to JCESR. By 2030, Lux Research expects the market for next-generation batteries to be worth $10 billion.
Midwest Energy News discussed the future of batteries and JCESR with Crabtree on the sidelines of the recent Energy Storage Conference, hosted by Illinois State University and Argonne…
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