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Argonne National Laboratory

Reimagining Energy Storage for Deep Decarbonization

Multidisciplinary teams of researchers are engaged in creating sustainable, regenerative, and recyclable energy storage solutions to support a decarbonized economy, at the same time overcoming materials and safety challenges and environmental impacts.

The conversion to clean energy for deep decarbonization demands new concepts for energy storage, including batteries, chemical storage, and low- or no-carbon liquid fuels. Compared with today’s lithium-ion based batteries, these new solutions must cost less and possess significantly higher energy density.

For more than 50 years, Argonne has produced pivotal scientific discoveries in energy storage, including the 1990s invention of a revolutionary cathode material from a nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) mix. That rich history ideally positioned the laboratory to lead the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Joint Center for Energy Storage Research beginning in 2012.

Argonne scientists and engineers are now building upon that history as they pursue solutions capable of supporting the United States in its goal of a decarbonized economy by 2050. They are working on a portfolio of projects that seek to produce new energy storage concepts with favorable attributes: sustainability, regeneration and repair, recyclability, and resilience. In their quest for innovation, Argonne researchers are not only leveraging decades of prior discoveries but are working to overcome emerging challenges in materials availability, recycling potential, and safety. This work builds on the robust end-to-end innovation at the Lab through the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science (ACCESS)

In their work, Argonne researchers use the Advanced Photon Source, which allows them to watch, at the smallest scales, what happens as a battery charges and discharges and track material degradation related to repeated charging. The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility helps researchers model the properties of chemicals and materials at extreme scales.

At the Argonne-based DOE ReCell advanced battery recycling center, scientists are working to developing economic and environmentally sound recycling process that can be adopted by industry for lithium-ion and future battery chemistries.