Print 23 comment(s) - last by Mint.. on Dec 6 at 10:56 AM

The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) is expected to be the most advanced energy storage research program in the U.S.

Argonne National Lab is jump-starting a new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub that is expected to significantly advance battery technology for vehicles and the grid. 

The Batteries and Energy Storage Hub, which will be known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), is expected to be the most advanced energy storage research program in the U.S. It will offer the data needed for scientists to make huge strides in the energy sector. 

JCESR, which is ran by Argonne National Lab Senior Scientist George W. Crabtree, was chosen for a $120 million award over a five-year period. With this money, it'll bring together the efforts of other independent research programs for new battery advances.

More specifically, the advancements will focus on transportation and the grid. As far as transportation goes, research and development will work on increasing the electric range for vehicle batteries. On the grid side, increasing storage capabilities for energy-producing mediums like wind, solar and hydropower will improve efficiency and flexibility. 

This new hub falls in line with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) plan to focus 2013 spending on electric vehicles and grid modernization.


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RE: Better late than never
By Mint on 12/4/2012 12:30:35 PM , Rating: 3
There are massive profit incentives to create new battery technology and many, many companies and universities are working on the problem.
The profit incentives target different aspects of technology.

Premium cell phones and laptops, would pay 2-3x as much for batteries that have 50% more energy density, so they aren't particularly good drivers of lifetime cost per kWh delivered (i.e. capacity x cycle life).

Car batteries are a big business now, but they wouldn't have been nearly as big without the subsidies.

Grid storage has plenty of economic incentive, but at the same time, battery (or other energy storage) tech isn't nearly as close to economically viable there, which is why we use load following instead. Alternative battery technologies can be used which aren't as portable or power dense, like the molten salt battery. There's a lot of benefit to be had for a centralized research facility rather than having experts at different universities not truly collaborating and working with a tiny fraction of the funding of this project.

RE: Better late than never
By FITCamaro on 12/4/2012 1:32:13 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe they weren't as big a market because no one wants electric cars. Because they can't afford them and the cars themselves can't go as far. Let private investors figure out the issues(how to make them go farther for cheaper). Not the tax payers.

RE: Better late than never
By wiz220 on 12/4/2012 2:48:00 PM , Rating: 4
Because they can't afford them and the cars themselves can't go as far.

But that's exactly the point. It's a chicken and the egg type situation. Private enterprise is often reluctant to take the plunge into an area where there is higher risk combined with long timelines before positive returns are realized. Therefore the costs don't come down and ranges don't improve.

Research facilities/projects like the one being proposed are the way to create the technologies that reduce costs and give better range on batteries. Private enterprise will jump on board at a faster pace after some of the risk has been mitigated due to advances made by these types of publicly funded projects.

RE: Better late than never
By RufusM on 12/5/2012 9:13:29 AM , Rating: 2
There's a trickle down (up?) effect at work here. These things typically start small for things like phone, watch and camera batteries and work through an early adopter process.

After being proven on a smaller scale, they will scale up to larger devices like cars and buses as the production economics and processes improve. There are definitely massive profit incentives to creating better battery technology.

RE: Better late than never
By Mint on 12/6/2012 10:35:49 AM , Rating: 2
As I already explained, the market needs are quite different. For car batteries, the main figure of merit is (cycles * kWh)/price. The better that is, the more mileage there will be over which to amortize its cost. Initial cost alone is only relevant to short sighted consumers. Lease rates take into account the higher residual value of a car with a good battery.

For cell phones, energy density is king. Once you hit 1000 cycles, there's no market incentive to do better.

RE: Better late than never
By patronanejo on 12/5/2012 1:16:48 PM , Rating: 1
What are you, stupid? Do you think battery research is meant to preserve the problems inherent to them?

RE: Better late than never
By Mint on 12/6/2012 10:56:28 AM , Rating: 2
Because they can't afford them and the cars themselves can't go as far.
PHEVs can go as far as any car. Pure EVs are useful to some. Cost will come down with volume, and lease rates (low due to high residual value of a lifetime gas saver) already show cost savings.

Let private investors figure out the issues
As mentioned above, it's a chicken and egg problem. The technology is already lifetime cost effective, but until consumer see proof of a battery lasting 10 years with 80%+ capacity left, and in turn see proof of a used EV selling for much more than an equivalent used ICE, the lifetime savings won't be enough of a purchase factor.

The Leaf is about to start US production and will lower prices in doing so. That volume-based cost reduction wouldn't happen for several years without the subsidies or the loans, and likely outside the US.

You're wrong about nobody wanting EVs. They're ramping up in volume faster than regular hybrids, and will continue to do so.

There are many, many models on the market selling less than 3,000/mo.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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