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Silver Particles Improve Performance of Battery Material

December 16, 2014 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Politics, Research

Chemist Kris Pupek and student researcher Thoe Michaelos prepare validation experiments for the synthesis of battery materials at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Battery research at Argonne, and other national laboratories like it, are helping plug-in electric vehicles become more efficient and affordable.  Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory Silver particles improve performance of battery material

Chemist Kris Pupek and student researcher Thoe Michaelos prepare validation experiments for the synthesis of battery materials at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Battery research at Argonne, and other national laboratories like it, are helping plug-in electric vehicles become more efficient and affordable.
Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory
Silver particles improve performance of battery material

By John Spizzirri, Argonne National Laboratory

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are working to create an electric car battery that is smaller, cheaper and allows drivers to go farther on a charge.

Materials scientist Larry Curtiss is part of an Argonne team working on a new battery architecture that uses lithium-oxygen bonds as it stores and releases energy, and silver as the metal catalyst that makes this possible. This new battery could store up to 10 times more energy than current lithium-ion batteries and offer drivers a cruising range upwards of 400-500 miles before it’s time for the next charge.

When you charge contemporary electric vehicles, lithium ions migrate from the positive electrode to the negative electrode where they are stored in a higher energy state. When you start the car, these stored ions release their energy in the form of electrons, and the lithium ion migrates back to the positive electrode. Today’s electrode materials provide good charge-discharge cycles with the migration of lithium ions between electrodes, but they need to take advantage of other chemical processes to store more energy.

In the new scenario, oxygen and lithium atoms combine to create chemical bonds, releasing more energy in the same amount of space (that is, they have a higher energy density), but a metal catalyst is required to help form the bonds.

After experimentation with a variety of precious metals, the researchers found that tailored clusters of silver atoms seem to provide the surface texture required to create these lithium-oxygen bonds in abundance.

“In previous studies, we’ve had metal catalysts that helped the formation of these bonds, but we never knew what size these catalysts were—they could be from thousands to a couple of atoms in size,” said Curtiss. “Now we’re actually able to put down specific size clusters of silver and see what effect it has on the formation of these lithium-oxygen bonds.”

According to Argonne materials scientist Stefan Vajda, using the ultra-small clusters as catalysts for electric battery electrodes is new. It was proposed because multiple studies showed that the small clusters can easily activate, or break apart, oxygen to boost chemical reactions and release more energy.

“Once we understand how the process works and determine what size clusters perform the best, then we can design catalysts that work well, perhaps using lower-cost metals,” said Vajda.

These clusters are so compact that their atoms are on the surface, readily available for the chemical reactions that lead to energy production. Their ability to easily disperse could make even the most expensive catalytic metals affordable, Vajda added.

Although the commercialization of this technology is still potentially another 10 to 20 years down the road, Argonne is on the leading edge of the fundamental understanding of this chemistry. Understanding how the metal catalysts react on the electrode is just a start, as researchers need to overcome a number of other technical issues before the battery is road-worthy.

For instance, in its present stage of development, the battery wears out after only 10 to 40 charge-discharge cycles; a typical electric vehicle requires a thousand cycles or more.

It is believed that once these issues are resolved, the new lithium-oxygen architecture, with its ultra-small silver or other metal clusters directing energy productivity, could offer auto manufacturers and consumers a lower-priced, higher-efficiency alternative to today’s electric car batteries.

The discharge products were characterized by high-energy synchrotron x-ray diffraction at the 11-ID-C beamline of Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

The transmission electron microscopy characterization was performed by the Electron Microscopy Center Group at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

Computations were carried out on the high-performance Mira supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and on the Carbon Cluster at the Center for Nanoscale Materials.

Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and Office of Science. A paper on this work was published online on Sept. 12, 2014, in Nature Communications.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: Argonne National Laboratory.

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ARPA-E awards IIT-Argonne team $3.4 million for breakthrough battery technology

September 3, 2013 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Politics, Research

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on clean energy at Argonne National Laboratory’s Nanoscale Materials Center in Lemont, Ill., March 15, 2013. | Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy ARPA-E awards IIT-Argonne team $3.4 million for breakthrough battery technology

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on clean energy at Argonne National Laboratory’s Nanoscale Materials Center in Lemont, Ill., March 15, 2013. | Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy
ARPA-E awards IIT-Argonne team $3.4 million for breakthrough battery technology

CHICAGO – Carlo Segre, Duchossois Leadership Professor of Physics at Illinois Institute of Technology, has received a $3.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) to develop a breakthrough battery technology that may more than double the current range of electric vehicles (EV), increase safety, reduce costs and simplify recharging.

Segre and his collaborators John Katsoudas, also of IIT, and Elena Timofeeva, Dileep Singh and Michael Duoba of Argonne National Laboratory will develop a prototype for a rechargeable “nanoelectrofuel” flow battery that may extend the range of EVs to at least 500 miles and provide a straightforward and rapid method of refueling. Current EV ranges are 100-200 miles, with recharging taking up to eight hours.

Flow batteries, which store chemical energy in external tanks instead of within the battery container, are generally low in energy density and therefore not used for transportation applications.  The IIT-Argonne nanoelectrofuel flow battery concept will use a high-energy density “liquid” with battery-active nanoparticles to dramatically increase energy density while ensuring stability and low-resistance flow within the battery.

“I am delighted by this award, not only because of the quality and importance of the proposed research but also as another example of the longstanding and effective collaboration between IIT and the world-class researchers and facilities at Argonne,” said Russell Betts, dean of the College of Science at IIT.

Segre’s expertise is in the structure and properties of materials using synchrotron radiation techniques. He has a wide variety of ongoing research projects, including fuel-cell catalysts and battery materials. Segre is deputy director of the Materials Research Collaborative Access Team (MR-CAT) beamline at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), located at Argonne; and director of the Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation (CSRRI) at IIT.

Katsoudas and Timofeeva began their work on the IIT-Argonne nanoelectrofuel flow battery at Argonne, leveraging Timofeeva’s expertise in nanofluids engineering and electrochemistry. Katsoudas is an expert in instrumentation design, automation of experiments and materials characterization.

Singh will bring to bear on the project his knowledge of how nanoparticle-fluid interaction effects the thermal management and behavior of nanoparticles in the IIT-Argonne nanoelectrofuel flow battery. Duoba’s expertise in vehicle systems and EV testing, in particular, will provide critical guidance in the development of a nanoelectrofuel battery prototype for EV applications.

The IIT award is one of 22 projects across the country awarded a total of $36 million through the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Robust Affordable Next Generation EV Storage (RANGE) program, which seeks to develop innovative EV battery chemistries, architectures and designs. ARPA-E was officially authorized in 2007 and first funded in 2009. The agency invests in high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private sector investment.

IIT and Argonne will share the funding award to continue their research.

Founded in 1890, IIT is a Ph.D.-granting university offering degrees in engineering, sciences, architecture, psychology, design, humanities, business, and law. IIT’s interprofessional, technology-focused curriculum is designed to advance knowledge through research and scholarship, to cultivate invention improving the human condition, and to prepare students from throughout the world for a life of professional achievement, service to society, and individual fulfillment. Visit www.iit.edu.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

This article (8-30-13) is an EV News Report repost, credit: Argonne National Laboratory.

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Energy Department Partners with EU on Electric Vehicle and Smart Grid Coordination, Source: DOE

July 20, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV News, Greentech

Yesterday, representatives from the Energy Department, the European Commission and Argonne National Lab celebrated the launch of the Electric Vehicle-Smart Grid Interoperability Center. From left to right: Mr. Giovanni De Santi, Director of the JRC Institute for energy and transport (IET); Mr. Dominique Ristori, Director-General of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC); Dr. Phyllis Yoshida, DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe, Asia and the Americas; Dr. Eric Isaacs, Director of Argonne National Laboratory. | Photo courtesy of Argonne National Lab. Courtesy of DOE Energy Department Partners with EU on Electric Vehicle and Smart Grid Coordination, Source: DOE

Yesterday, representatives from the Energy Department, the European Commission and Argonne National Lab celebrated the launch of the Electric Vehicle-Smart Grid Interoperability Center. From left to right: Mr. Giovanni De Santi, Director of the JRC Institute for energy and transport (IET); Mr. Dominique Ristori, Director-General of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC); Dr. Phyllis Yoshida, DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe, Asia and the Americas; Dr. Eric Isaacs, Director of Argonne National Laboratory. | Photo courtesy of Argonne National Lab.
Courtesy of DOE
Energy Department Partners with EU on Electric Vehicle and Smart Grid Coordination, Source: DOE

Electric vehicles (EV) seem to be everywhere these days. As Secretary Moniz highlighted today, plug-in hybrid sales doubled in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 — and sales are only expected to grow as the next generation of cars and grid systems demonstrate even greater cost saving for consumers.

That is why the Energy Department launched a new center this week that will work to ensure that vehicles, charging stations, communications and networking systems work in unison with the electric grid. The Electric Vehicle-Smart Grid Interoperability Center, located at Argonne National Laboratory just outside of Chicago, will work to harmonize emerging EV and smart grid technologies.

Why is this important? The emergence of EVs brings new economic opportunities for local utilities. Large-scale capital investment by companies for the deployment of EVs, chargers and the smart grid will depend on the ability of consumers to conveniently, safely and securely charge — anywhere, anytime. This will require close linkages between the automotive and utility industries as new demand for electricity brings the need for new investments in power generation and grid systems.

Leveraging Argonne’s EV and battery expertise, the new center will focus on three key areas:

  1. Establishing requirements and test procedures to assess EV-electric vehicle supply equipment compatibility;
  2. Developing and verifying connectivity technologies, communication protocols and standards; and
  3. Identifying gaps where new standards or technologies are needed for solutions using proof-of-concept hardware/software systems.

The work at Argonne will also be complemented by the launch of a European Interoperability Center by the European Commission’s (EC) Joint Research Center at facilities in Ispra, Italy, and Petten, Netherlands, in 2014. Employing common test procedures, interoperability standards and test comparisons, the U.S. government and EC will work together to ensure harmonized technologies and to prevent unnecessary regulatory divergence, helping foster the development of the transatlantic EV market and create new jobs.

These efforts support coordinated initiatives under the U.S. – EU Energy Council and Transatlantic Economic Council. For more on the Electric Vehicle-Smart Grid Interoperability Center, visit Argonne’s website.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: US Department of Energy.

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Energy Department Releases Updated eGallon Prices as Electric Vehicle Sales Double, Source: DOE

July 19, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV News, Politics

Photo courtesy of Andrew Hudgins, NREL Energy Department Releases Updated eGallon Prices as Electric Vehicle Sales Double, Source: DOE

Photo courtesy of Andrew Hudgins, NREL
Energy Department Releases Updated eGallon Prices as Electric Vehicle Sales Double, Source: DOE

WASHINGTON — U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz today highlighted the continued growth of electric vehicle sales – doubling in the first 6 months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 – as the Energy Department released its most recent pricing data showing the low cost of fueling on electricity.  The eGallon, a quick and simple way for consumers to compare the costs of fueling electric vehicles vs. driving on gasoline, rose slightly to $1.18 from $1.14 in the latest monthly numbers, but remains far below the $3.49 cost of a gallon of gasoline.

“More and more Americans are taking advantage of the low and stable price of electricity as a transportation fuel, and that’s very good news for our economy as well as the environment,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.  “As the market continues to grow, electric vehicles will play a key role in our effort to reduce air pollution and slow the effects of climate change.”

Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Figures

Plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales tripled from about 17,000 in 2011 to about 52,000 in 2012.  During the first six months of 2013, Americans bought over 40,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), more than twice as many sold during the same period in 2012.

The latest numbers also show how the early years of the PEV market have seen much faster growth than the early years of the hybrid vehicle market.  Thirty months after the first hybrid was introduced, monthly sales figures were under 3,000.

By comparison, PEVs – which were first introduced in December 2010 – report nearly 9,000 cars sold in the last month. At the same time, thanks to technology improvements and growing domestic manufacturing capacity, the cost of a battery has come down by nearly 50 percent in the last four years, and is expected to drop to $10,000 by 2015.

The Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory provides regular updates on monthly sales reported by automakers.  Because Tesla Motors has not yet reported its second quarter sales figures, the site uses independent market estimates from the Hybrid Market Dashboard as a placeholder until the final sales numbers come in from the company.

eGallon

Last month, the Energy Department launched the eGallon to let consumers compare the cost of fueling with electricity vs. gasoline.  Since electricity prices vary from state to state, the page allows consumers to get information specific to their own state.  For example, an eGallon is $1.53 in California (compared to $3.98 for gasoline) and $1.13 in Texas (compared to $3.33 for gasoline).  eGallon prices are available for all 50 states and the District of Columbia on Energy.gov/eGallon.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: US Department of Energy.

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Microorganisms found in salt flats could offer new path to green hydrogen fuel, Source: Argonne National Lab

July 16, 2013 in Environment, EV News, Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Toyota

An NREL employee test drives one of the Toyota Highlander fuel cell hybrid vehicles at the lab’s Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Ride and Drive Event. The event was part of Earth Week festivities at NREL. Photo credit: Dennis Schroeder Courtesy of NREL Microorganisms found in salt flats could offer new path to green hydrogen fuel, Source: Argonne National Lab

An NREL employee test drives one of the Toyota Highlander fuel cell hybrid vehicles at the lab’s Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Ride and Drive Event. The event was part of Earth Week festivities at NREL.
Photo credit: Dennis Schroeder
Courtesy of NREL
Microorganisms found in salt flats could offer new path to green hydrogen fuel, Source: Argonne National Lab

ARGONNE, Ill. – A protein found in the membranes of ancient microorganisms that live in desert salt flats could offer a new way of using sunlight to generate environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel, according to a new study by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

Argonne nanoscientist Elena Rozhkova and her colleagues combined a pigment called bacteriorhodopsin with semiconducting nanoparticles to create a system that uses light to spark a catalytic process that creates hydrogen fuel.

Scientists have been aware of the potential of titanium dioxide nanoparticles for light-based reactions since the early 1970s, when Japanese researchers discovered that a titanium dioxide electrode exposed to bright ultraviolet light could split water molecules in a phenomenon that came to be known as the Honda-Fujishima effect. Since then, scientists have made continuous efforts to extend the light reactivity of titanium dioxide photocatalysts into the visible part of the spectrum. The promise of these photocatalysts prompted scientists to experiment with different modifications to their basic chemistry in hope of making the reaction more efficient, Rozhkova said.

“Titanium dioxide alone reacts with ultraviolet light, but not with visible light, so we used biological photoreactive molecules as a building block to create a hybrid system that could use visible light efficiently,” Rozhkova said.

Rozhkova and her colleagues turned to bacteriorhodopsin – which is responsible for the unusual purple color of a number of salt flats in California and Nevada – because it uses sunlight as an energy source that allows it to act as a “proton pump.”  Proton pumps are proteins that typically straddle a cellular membrane and transfer protons from inside the cell to the extracellular space.

In the Argonne system, the protons provided by the bacteriorhodopsin are combined with free electrons at small platinum sites interspersed in the titanium dioxide matrix.  “The platinum nanoparticles are essential for creating a distinct spot for the production of the hydrogen molecule,” said Peng Wang, an Argonne postdoctoral researcher in Rozhkova’s group at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials.

“It is interesting that in biology, bacteriorhodopsin does not naturally participate in these kind of reactions,” Rozhkova said. “Its natural function really doesn’t have much to do at all with creating hydrogen. But as part of this hybrid, it helps make hydrogen under white light and at environmentally friendly conditions.”

This bio-assisted hybrid photocatalyst outperforms many other similar systems in hydrogen generation and could be a good candidate for fabrication of green energy devices that consume virtually infinite sources – salt water and sunlight.

An article based on the study was recently published in Nanoletters. The work was performed at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs), premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale, supported by the DOE Office of Science.  Together, the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: Argonne National Laboratory.