Argonne National Laboratory

Intersections Winter 2018

Intersections brings you the latest updates on Argonne’s efforts to advance American energy and transportation, including core research findings, major concepts being explored, new collaborations and opportunities for further engagement.

Featured Articles

Welcome to Intersections

Welcome to Intersections, the new bi-monthly newsletter of Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Transportation (CTR). Intersections brings you the latest updates in transportation and energy research; here you’ll learn the key steps Argonne is taking to advance American energy choices in transportation, including core research findings, major concepts being explored, new collaborations and opportunities to engage with us further.

As we all know, mobility and transportation are undergoing transformative changes. We now have more energy and mobility choices than ever before, from electric and hybrid vehicles to combustion engines to bike and ride sharing, and on-demand buses and light rail. At the same time that our energy and mobility options are diversifying, they are also becoming more connected and automated, with emerging approaches for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to infrastructure communications and batteries that can give and take energy from the grid.

Playing Close to the Edge

Contrary to what you may have heard, the internal combustion engine is not dead, nor is it dying anytime soon. While electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity, they do not meet all transportation needs. At the same time, accelerating demands for greater fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, new fuel chemistries and faster development cycles have cranked up the pressure on manufacturers to build better internal combustion engines faster.

Two fundamental facts of traditional engine behavior are that fuel combustion varies from engine cycle to cycle and this cycle-to-cycle (cyclic) variability is one of the biggest enemies of consistent engine performance. As engine researchers focus on use of increasingly dilute fuel mixtures in order to meet stringent emissions targets, undesirable (and unpredictable) combustion events like knock and misfire can result, leading to potentially devastating effects on engines and downstream components. Explaining why cyclic variability matters so much to engine manufacturers, Ronald Reese, senior technical fellow at FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) observed that, “An ‘oops’ in this regard can put a company in peril due to the high cost of recalls.”

Closing the Loop on Battery Recycling

ReCell, a model developed at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, allows stakeholders to determine the impact of recycling batteries in electric vehicles which could further energize this market.

“Argonne has a long track record of expertise in battery R&D, and now we have added the ability to examine every step along the way, from manufacturing to recycling,” said Argonne’s Jeff Spangenberger, the project leader.

From cathodes to anodes to electrolytes, Argonne’s understanding of batteries combined with ReCell, a closed-loop battery recycling model, provides industry, DOE and others with a vivid picture of total costs as well as environmental impacts such as CO2 emissions. The model breaks down each process from when a battery leaves the factory to when it is recycled.

To Batteries and Beyond

The Materials Engineering Research Facility (MERF) has been synonymous with battery innovation since the day it was built.

From that time, five years ago, the facility and those who lead it have emerged as experts at scaling battery materials for industry-level use, while driving down the cost and time for scale up processes. Along the way, they’ve successfully scaled over 30 battery materials; partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, General Motors, and other leading institutions; and garnered numerous patents and awards.

More recently,MERF researchers have entered new strategic partnership projects with battery companies: Albemarle, a specialty chemicals company; A123 Systems, a leading developer of advanced lithium batteries and energy storage systems; and Advano, a start-up working on advanced silicon materials for batteries.