Nanostructured Materials for Advanced Energy Storage
To develop more energy-efficient vehicles and renewable energy sources, technologies are needed that can efficiently, safely, and cost-effectively store energy. Although progress has been made during the last 20 years, fundamental improvements are essential.
Researchers will use the transmission electron microscope and other state-of-the-art characterization tools to study the ion diffusion and structural change in the electrolytes and electrode materials.
Nanomaterials have the potential to satisfy stringent material requirements needed for these applications. The advantages of nanomaterials are that they
- Possess better structural and mechanical stability
- Enable new reactions not possible in bulk materials
- Have short electron/ion transport distance and a higher charge/discharge rate.
The size reduction, however, may be accompanied with potential disadvantages such as side reactions that may negatively affect the performance of energy-storage devices.
To fully use the advantages and avoid the potential disadvantages for the energy-storage applications, nanomaterials may require synthesis routes that control size and desirable crystallinity, morphology, and possible multifunction surfaces.
Currently, the lack of a fundamental understanding of electrochemical and thermodynamic properties related to nanostructures of material hinders development in this field. So, the Transformational Materials Science Initiative at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will address the following research priorities:
(1) Gain fundamental knowledge of the roles of nanostructures in electrochemical energy storage and desirable nanostructures for particular applications.
Semiconductor oxides with varying structural symmetries and interconnected microchannels and nanochannels will be synthesized. Investigating such materials will provide answers on how the structure affects the redox properties, which structure is more favorable to ion intercalation, what the mechanism of structural preservation or transformation is, how the nanostructures help or affect the stability, and the importance of the microchannels or nanochannels.
(2) Develop breakthrough materials and chemistries that may lead to higher energy and power densities, while not compromising life, safety, and cost.
Several candidate materials have potential for very high energy capacity, but they have a limited lifetime because of the structural collapses from the strain introduced during ion intercalation. Novel methods will be investigated for large-scale production of oriented one-dimensional arrays. The fundamental electro-mechanical response of such one-dimensional materials will be studied to provide insights into candidate materials with high energy storage and strain tolerance.
(3) Develop computational models that can couple/decouple the electronic and ionic phenomena.
(4) Design in-situ nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) characterization tools to study the ion diffusion and structural change in the electrolytes and electrode materials.
Synergistic integration of PNNL's capabilities to develop and understand advanced energy-storage materials and materials processing will better address critical U.S. Department of Energy missions and contribute to our nation's overall energy security.