The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) will be providing $37 million in new funding to 16 projects focused on the development of energy storage and conversion technologies, as part of the Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids (IONICS) program, according to a recent press release from the US government.
To be more particular, the IONICS program and thus the projects in question are based around the creation of “high performance parts built with solid ion conductors — solids in which ions can be mobile and store energy” and the processing and integration of such parts into commercially viable devices. Specifically, these devices will be used for transportation (EVs, etc.), grid-level energy storage, and fuel-cell purposes.
Here’s an overview of two of the projects receiving funding, in order to get a better idea of the focus:
Pennsylvania State University | University Park, PA | Cold-Sintering Composite Structures for Solid Lithium Ion Conductors
Pennsylvania State University will develop solid ceramic and composite electrolytes using its recently developed “cold sintering” process. Cold sintering enables the creation of solid ion conductors at a relatively low temperature of around 100 degrees Celsius, greatly enhancing the types of materials that can be produced by the process, including composite electrolytes and those made of a combination of ceramics and polymers. The cold sintering process also offers greater ability to lower the electrolyte resistance and prevent the growth of battery-killing dendrites, two significant obstacles to the development of solid electrolytes.
Washington University in St. Louis | St. Louis, MO | Reinforced AEM Separators Based on Triblock Copolymers for Electrode-Decoupled RFBs
The Washington University in St. Louis team will use readily available and inexpensive commercial polymers to create a membrane for use in redox flow batteries. The team will investigate possibilities with four types of membrane construction with the goal of achieving the high thermal, chemical, and mechanical stability necessary for use in applications like flow batteries that contain materials like acids. A highly charged nanopowder will be used to improve the conductivity of the membrane while simultaneously increasing its selectivity.