Yvonne Carts-Powell

Breaking battery news, big ambitions

In Batteries, Science, technology, writing on November 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm

“The goal is to develop batteries that are 5 times more powerful, 5 times cheaper, within 5 years.”

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy agreed to fund a 5-year $120 million research center to develop better batteries and energy storage. (Both for transportation and the grid.) Members include national lab, academic, and industrial partners.

I am watching a press conference in Chicago, still going on, to announce the news.

Batteries are a $42 billion dollar industry. Japan and South Korea are major players in the field and are accelerating their support for research.

DoE Secretary and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu is speaking. Chu talks about how, during wartime when results (ie, get the science out of the lab into manufacturable objects) had to be produced as fast as possible, it was important to put the best scientists next to the best engineers across disciplines. The battery and energy storage hub will take the same approach. He says, “Okay, you just gotta do what Oppenheimer … Fermi… Seaborg did… no pressure.”

The center, called JCESR, will bring together some of the most advanced energy storage research programs in the U.S. today. Other national labs partnering with Argonne include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. University partners include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and University of Michigan. Four industrial partners have also joined to help clear a path to the marketplace for the advances developed at JCESR, including Dow Chemical Company; Applied Materials, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; and Clean Energy Trust.

“Because of the hybrid car batteries,” Chu says, the technology in your computers has improved, you have, “two-fold better batteries, just in the last two years.”

DoE Press Release
( http://energy.gov/articles/team-led-argonne-national-lab-selected-doe-s-batteries-and-energy-storage-hub )

The press conference ( http://www.ustream.tv/argonnelive )

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