ORNL has a broad research program in electrical energy storage (EES) that focuses on discovery of new materials and processes and demonstration of technology that will enable practical electrical energy storage for vehicles and efficient energy storage from the sun and other renewable resources. Our research spans across basic and applied research and includes extensive partnerships with universities and industry to develop next generation EES devices, including batteries and capacitors. We seek to understand EES materials and physicochemical processes to catalyze the development of new electrode materials, electrolytes, membranes, charge storage principles, architectures, and processing methods, allowing revolutionary EES technologies to be realized. Improvements in energy density are being realized by harnessing the multi-electron redox capabilities of non-traditional materials, especially sulfur, oxygen and transition-metals. These new materials and electrochemical processes move beyond today’s lithium technologies to encompass earth-abundant, safe, and energy-dense multivalent ions and/or molecular species. We also are designing novel multidimensional architectures to optimize electron transfer and ionic transport, including nanostructured electrodes, membranes and electrolytes. Complementing this research is an array of capabilities for characterizing EES systems, including in situ analysis by unique ORNL capabilities in neutron scattering, scanning probe and electron microscopies. In addition, computational tools are being developed to study EES processes from the atomic/molecular level to the systems level. Our research portfolio includes the FIRST Energy Frontier Research Center which is addressing fundamental gaps in our current understanding of interfacial systems in EES and other energy technologies. We also develop new energy efficient, sustainable processes for manufacturing EES devices.
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