Dr. George Crabtree, Director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, Argonne National Laboratory

Earlier this month the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC) released a first-of-its-kind report revealing areas of science and technology research where Illinois is primed for increased commercialization and economic impact. One key finding highlighted in the report is Illinois’ outstanding research and patent output in battery technology and energy storage. The report identifies key contributors to this performance and underscores the critical role of Argonne National Laboratory’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), a public / private partnership of national laboratories, universities, and industry. JCESR brings together world-leading scientists, engineers, and manufacturers to develop clean energy storage technologies for transportation and the electricity grid. The next generation energy storage research underway at JCESR uniquely positions Illinois to contribute to the evolution of the energy storage industry and the transformative effects it will have for society and the economy.

In its first year, the JCESR partnership has moved from launch to full operation and is now producing groundbreaking research. To achieve this, the partnership has leveraged unique capabilities at Argonne and implemented a paradigmatic shift in the way innovation is done.

JCESR looks exclusively beyond lithium-ion for its next-generation electricity storage technologies, making Illinois one of only a few places in the world where this research and development is taking place at the scale made possible by the $120 million Department of Energy award that created the JCESR research consortium. Transportation and the electricity grid, which together account for two-thirds of U.S. energy use, are poised for transformation driven by high performance, low cost electricity storage. These transformative outcomes require next generation storage with five times the performance at one-fifth the cost of today’s commercial batteries. Current lithium-ion batteries, with annual performance improvements of 8% and cost reductions of 5%, cannot reach the factors of five advances that JCESR seeks for transformative change.

JCESR replaces Edisonian science of simply trying one battery combination after another with a new paradigm that unites discovery science, battery design, research prototyping and manufacturing collaboration in a single highly interactive organization. This new paradigm accelerates the pace of discovery and innovation and shortens the time from conceptualization to commercialization.

Innovative new tools are a key feature of JCESR’s new paradigm, including the Materials Project, the Electrolyte Genome, the Electrochemical Discovery Lab and Techno-economic Modeling.  These distinguishing tools enable JCESR to rapidly explore the rich beyond lithium-ion space and identify its most promising energy storage concepts, materials and systems.

The Materials Project and the Electrolyte Genome use high-throughput computer modeling to discover new ions, cathodes, anodes and electrolytes and to predict their performance before they are made in the laboratory, dramatically reducing discovery times. The Electrochemical Discovery Laboratory uses advanced synthesis and characterization to design and explore high performance electrochemical interfaces, the conceptual and practical heart of electricity storage. Techno-economic Modeling “builds the battery on the computer,” projecting performance and cost of proposed battery systems before they are assembled in the laboratory.

These innovative tools, combined with rapid exchange of information in JCESR’s new paradigm allow the richness of the beyond lithium-ion space to be rapidly explored. As the Illinois Science and Technology Roadmap report points out, JCESR’s research is also an economic development opportunity for the state, which can become the first test bed for the commercialization of next generation energy storage technology. Increased coordination of researchers, battery design and manufacturing companies and new facilities where innovators can develop and scale the new technology will be critical in transforming JCESR’s research into an engine for economic growth in Illinois.


Watch and Listen

JCESR Director George Crabtree on how Argonne Goes Beyond the Lithium Ion Frontier


Argonne’s Technology Development and Commercialization Division explains how Argonne’s transfers technology from lab to industry


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