Scientific and Technical Need

JCESR will address key questions in electrochemical energy storage along the full technology-development pipeline, from basic scientific research through manufacturing and delivery to market.

The nation needs real breakthroughs in basic research before we can produce large batteries that are affordable, efficient, safe and reliable enough for widespread use. To meet that goal, we must bridge a technology gap in energy storage, as shown here. The dashed line here is a slope of 1, so this shows how we have not achieved theoretical limits on specific energy yet. Importantly, this graph also shows that, even if you improve lithium ion to its theoretical maximum, you only move the Li-ion point slightly to the right on this curve. Granted the scale is logarithmic, but this illustrates how far we are away from octane.

Basic science
Battery researchers need to understand the basic chemistry and physics of energy storage at all time and length scales. They need to develop analytical tools that can monitor changes in the structure and composition of battery materials at their interfaces and in bulk phases. They need to detect and measure these changes at the atomic and molecular levels during intervals as short as a few femtoseconds (a quadrillionth of a second). High-performance computing is critical to modeling and understanding these complex physical and chemical processes.

Battery architecture
New battery architectures are needed to leapfrog existing designs, improve system performance, raise cycle lifetimes and approach the theoretical energy and power densities of new materials and designs. New architectures will integrate novel materials and components at the nano- to macroscale.

Practical advanced battery technologies will need to charge and discharge faster and perform well with little degradation over thousands of charge-recharge cycles. To develop such batteries, researchers must first lean to better control the reactivity within batteries, a task that requires a better understanding of how ions dissolve in electrolytes and an improved knowledge of the chemistry and physics of electron transfer at the interfaces between battery materials.

Materials and manufacturing
New battery designs will be more cost-effective if they maximize the use of abundant materials instead of scarce ones. To optimize the use of abundant materials and low-cost manufacturing, new approaches will combine theory and synthesis in novel architectures and fabrication methods that incorporate self-healing, self-regulation, failure-tolerance, and impurity-sequestration.