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Energy Storage and Materials

[A 25-MVA/10-MWh Battery Energy Storage Sytems, Beacon Solar Plant Site, LADWP]


- Overview

As technology advances, the need for improved energy storage and energy materials is rapidly increasing. Modern emerging technologies, solar cells, electric vehicles, and portable devices require energy storage and conversion alternatives to meet their energy demands and provide sufficient, long lifetime, and high energy density.

Materials for lithium-ion batteries, supercapacitors, water splitting and fuel cells continue to be sought after in the search for sustainable energy solutions. A new generation of nanomaterials is being developed to address these challenges.


- Renewable Energy and Energy Storage

Combining energy storage with renewable energy has the potential to change the way we buy, sell and use energy within the next decade. The need for energy resilience has never been more urgent. Increasing renewable energy generation, accelerating energy diversification and increasing energy storage are global priorities amid heightened geopolitical tensions, volatile commodity prices, supply chain shortages and increased extreme weather events. Additionally, a confluence of external factors is driving conventional energy producers to evaluate operating in a cleaner and more efficient manner.


- Energy Storage and Conversion Systems

The world uses vast amounts of energy every day. Consequently, considerable research has been conducted to identify efficient methods of storing and converting elementary energies. 

Examples of energy storage systems with power sources of high energy/power density, long operating life, and high system stability include lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries, hybrid supercapacitors, multivalent ion batteries, metal-sulfur/air batteries, and energy conversion systems, including proton exchange membrane fuel cells, solid oxide fuel cells, and alkaline fuel cells. 

Therefore, to improve energy storage and conversion systems, various device components including anodes, cathodes, membranes, electrolytes, and catalysts are investigated, from which material design and performance optimization can be performed.

The comprehensive study of energy storage and conversion requires a multidisciplinary approach due to its inherent potential to implement high-performance electrochemical systems for practical energy industries. In addition to proposing new materials for high-performance energy systems, the stability of energy systems at high temperatures and the optimization of energy conversion systems are also essential. 

Therefore, inspiring energy storage/conversion-related research is crucial for designing advanced materials and establishing process-structure-performance relationships.


Washington Monument_010122A
[Washington Monument, Washington D.C. - US Department of Agriculture]

- Energy Storage Materials

Demand for renewable energy is on the rise. Environmental protection and the need for longer-lasting batteries are the driving forces. Therefore, the research and innovation of energy storage materials are continuously increasing.

Energy storage materials are functional materials that use physical or chemical changes in matter to store energy. The stored energy can be chemical, electrical, mechanical, thermal or other forms of energy. 

Energy storage materials are inseparable from energy storage technology. Energy comes in many forms. Materials used in electricity storage, heat storage, hydrogen storage, solar cells, etc. are all energy storage materials in a broad sense.

Energy storage materials are key to the efficient storage and release of energy in energy systems such as batteries. Lithium-ion and lithium iron phosphate batteries have some of the best energy storage materials, making their batteries the market's first choice.

Nevertheless, with the need to develop more sustainable energy systems, research on other energy storage materials is also increasing.


- Batteries for Electric Vehicles (EVs)

The growing share of EVs in the market means that more batteries need to be produced, which in turn will lead to an increasing demand for raw materials. Especially in the infancy of electric vehicles (EVs), there may be occasional supply bottlenecks. At a later stage, the recycling concept of used batteries can reduce the pressure on the supply chain. 

EV batteries are similar to, but very different from, a basic AA or AAA battery. Although you might think of these two types of batteries as distinct electrical storage devices, typical store-bought batteries used in a variety of electronic devices and battery packs in EVs work on the same general principles. That said, the batteries in a hybrid or electric car are just a little more complicated than those lipstick-shaped batteries you're used to dealing with. 

Batteries in HEVs, PHEVs, or BEVs (hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and battery electric vehicles, respectively) can be made from a variety of materials, each with different performance characteristics. Stored in these large batteries the individual batteries in a pack also come in many different shapes and sizes.

With demand for EVs and renewable energy soaring and battery development exploding, one thing is certain: batteries will play a key role in the transition to renewable energy.


[More to come ...]


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