The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday announced $148 million in funding for two separate initiatives aimed at advancing research into energy storage technologies.
The DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program announced awards totaling just over $28 million for 10 projects that aim to increase the duration of energy storage systems up to 100 hours.
- The DOE also said it would provide $120 million over five years to renew funding for the Joint Center for Energy Story Research (JCESR) program that does research and development on new battery materials.
Energy storage research is alive and well at the DOE despite President Donald Trump's threats to gut funding for DOE programs, particularly clean energy projects. In fact, after the budget dust settled, scientific research got a boost at the DOE with a 16% increase in the budget to $6.2 billion.
According to the new announcements, some of those funds are allocated to research on energy storage. The JCESR, led by Argonne National Laboratory, now has $120 million to continue its research on new materials that can improve the energy density of lithium-ion batteries and devise new concepts for flow batteries.
JCESR's research will focus on understanding matter at the atomic and molecular levels in an effort to develop multivalent battery designs. Established in 2012, JCESR has since demonstrated a new class of membranes for flow batteries. The program also made progress in establishing the scientific foundations for batteries based on doubly-charged magnesium instead of singly charged lithium and developed computational tools that have screened over 24,000 potential electrolyte and electrode compounds for new battery concepts and chemistries.
Separately, through ARPA-E, the DOE made awards to 10 projects as part of its Duration Addition to electricitY Storage (DAYS) program. The projects are designed to find tradeoffs in the design of energy storage systems that can extend the duration of those systems while keeping costs low.
By extending the duration of an energy storage system, the DAYS projects hope to enable a new set of applications for grid storage, including long-lasting backup power and greater integration of intermittent, renewable energy resources.
A project by Brayton Energy in Hampton, N.H., for instance, was awarded $1.9 million to develop an energy storage system that combines thermal energy storage with a gas turbine that uses Brayton's reversible turbine design.
Another project by Echogen Power Systems of Akron, Ohio, was awarded $3 million for an energy storage system that uses a carbon dioxide heat pump cycle to convert electrical energy to thermal energy by heating a reservoir of low cost materials, such as sand or concrete, that can then be used to power a turbine to generate power.
Primus Power of Hayward, California, was awarded $3.5 million to develop a long-duration grid energy storage solution by using a new approach to the zinc-bromine battery, a prevalent chemistry for flow batteries. The concept calls for the elimination of a separator to keep the reactants apart when charged, and also allow all the electrolytes to be stored in a single tank instead of multiple cells, which could reduce system costs.
"Improvements in battery performance are paramount to the future of both transportation and the electric grid," DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said in a statement.