Building a Better Battery

JCESR is running the battery technology race, and recent experiments with new materials to improve existing processes are giving them an edge.

The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) at Argonne National Lab has been tasked with a tall order: Develop batteries with five times the storage at a fifth of the cost than current energy storage technology, and do it in five years. To pull off this feat they’ve formed partnerships with the best minds in the business. Current research collaborations include the University of Illinois at Chicago, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. These strategic partnerships have allowed JCESR to take on unparalleled research projects, including their recent screening of 1800 different materials for their potential in new energy storage technology.

Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in consumer electronics today, store energy by moving ions to a negative electrode while charging, which then provides power when those ions move back to the positive electrode. This “rocking” motion is retained in advanced battery research, but new ions are introduced. Rather than single-ion lithium, JCESR researchers are introducing calcium and magnesium, which carry multiple ions, in the hopes of multiplying energy storage capacity through the same process. In order to effectively move these ions, though, a new host material is needed. These materials are known as multivalent host structures.

By conducting a systematic survey of 1800 different host structures, JCESR researchers have found a promising material. Manganese oxide was the top contender during computer screenings, and recent lab tests have demonstrated its viability as a host material. This collaborative breakthrough is bringing the theoretical multivalent battery concept to life in the lab, and brings advanced battery research even closer to a major innovation.

Energy storage is recognized as a key factor in the advancement of renewable, clean energy across the US and globally. Storing solar and wind power from peak hours for use during off-peak hours is essential to grid stabilization, and will enable the movement away from fossil fuel reliance. Additionally, electric vehicle efficiency and affordability will grow significantly with the introduction of new batteries that allow cars to go father on a single charge, and drive down costs. JCESR is capitalizing on critical research networks to provide innovative advanced energy storage technology and bring these ideas into reality.


Clean Energy Trust is proud to partner with JCESR and provide interactive support for the future of battery technology in our growing clean energy ecosystem. Advanced battery technology offers a dynamic option as an innovative, multi-scale solution that promotes the expansion of clean energy across industries. As a JCESR partner organization, Clean Energy Trust leverages its position in the ecosystem to engage strategic stakeholders and seed pathways for commercialization of breakthrough battery innovations.

By Emily Achler | June 24, 2015