Energy Storage and Harvesting

“Five times the energy storage at one-fifth the cost within five years,” is the stated mission of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) led by Argonne National Laboratory. Batteries, fuel cells, and other means of storing energy for both electric grid and transportation are both targets: Plug-in electric vehicles and storing energy from renewable sources (sun and wind) are the principal goals.

IME has a specific role in the JCESR enterprise which is a commitment to hire several new faculty working on cutting edge problems in energy storage. Today’s electrical energy storage approaches suffer from limited energy and power capacities, lower-than-desired rates of charge and discharge, cycle life limitations, low abuse tolerance, high cost, and poor performance at high or low temperatures. Molecular engineering of new materials and new structures is the only route to solving most of these problems.

Professors de Pablo, Nealey, and Tirrell have developed new approaches to the 3D patterning of ion-conductive polymers that may be useful in future battery structures. Spanning the two institutions, the University of Chicago and Argonne, IME is in a superb position to develop new designs for batteries and other methods of energy storage.

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