In the inaugural issue of the ACCESS newsletter, I spoke to why we started this publication: to keep you informed of the latest developments championed by Argonne National Laboratory to create a world powered by electrons, from the transportation we use to the way we generate electricity. Argonne brings deep science to advance this vision with a strong emphasis on discovering materials that hold the key to this future.
But the discovery of a new material is one part—some would argue, a small part—of what makes for an impactful new battery. Indeed, a discovery in a lab setting is necessary but far from a sufficient step toward commercialization. Much more is needed, including the integration of the material into a device, scaling the materials and devices into formats that resemble real systems, testing them under real-world operating conditions, and finally, working with partners to ensure the innovations can be scaled at yields that make it profitable. This process can take a decade or more, with every step riddled with numerous opportunities for failure.
At Argonne we pride ourselves on building a program that integrates these many steps, connecting basic R&D to material and cell scaling, and ensuring that characterization and modeling efforts are integrated to accelerate each step of the process. We are especially proud of our decades-long engagement with industry partners that help move our intellectual property out of the lab and provide companies—both small and large—access to cutting-edge facilities and scientific talent to solve industrial problems.
Energy storage remains the “holy grail” to transition our society to a future where electricity powers everything. Argonne is at the center of creating this future. — ACCESS Director Venkat Srinivasan
This fall 2020 edition of the ACCESS newsletter highlights the journey from discovery to disruption.
We feature one of our most prolific researchers, Khalil Amine, who has a long track record of working with companies and moving technology to market. Khal, as he is known in the battery community, is an Argonne Distinguished Fellow and leader of the Advanced Lithium Battery Technology team. As the co-inventor of the lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cathode technology, which has been licensed and mass-produced by BASF and Toda, Khal knows the difficulty, and the impact, of commercializing technology.
Khal continues to discover new and impactful battery materials, a topic he discusses in our newsletter Q&A. Another co-inventor of the NMC technology, Michael Thackeray, now an Argonne Emeritus Scientist, continues to influence our research today; we highlight this historical connection in our newsletter feature story.
Moving from material discovery to scaling remains critical. We highlight the recent ribbon cutting of the Materials Engineering Research Facility (MERF) dedicated to de-risking new materials innovations by focusing on scaling them from milligrams to kilograms. And finally, we highlight our partnership with industry on scaling the manufacturing, with a recent success story on a DOE funding opportunity where Argonne was awarded seven projects (six as prime; another as a research partner with Brookhaven National Laboratory), all focused on utilizing Argonne’s capabilities to help companies accelerate the path to commercialization.
I will close by quoting my previous observation: Energy storage remains the “holy grail” to transition our society to a future where electricity powers everything. Argonne is at the center of creating this future, and the ACCESS newsletter offers a window into some of the pivotal discoveries happening behind the scenes.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.