Sandia Labs News Releases

Public-private partnership awarded $120 million to develop energy storage

Joint Center for Energy Storage Research sets aggressive technology development goals

A team including Sandia National Laboratories will receive $120 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a new research hub to develop batteries and other energy storage technologies.

The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), an Argonne National Laboratory-led collaboration of leading researchers and entrepreneurs from DOE national laboratories, universities and industry, will focus on rapid research, development and commercialization of revolutionary, clean electrochemical energy storage technologies for electric vehicles and the nation’s electric grid.

JCESR partners aim to perform breakthrough basic research while working closely with JCESR’s industrial partners to convert new knowledge into market-ready, clean energy storage technologies. The hub seeks to reduce dependence on foreign oil by improving batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles and to provide energy storage solutions to improve the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid and integrate renewable energy into the nation’s electrical system.

“JCESR’s aggressive goal is to develop revolutionary energy storage technologies with five times the energy density of today’s systems at one-fifth the cost in five years,” said JCESR Director George Crabtree. “To meet this 5-5-5 goal, the partnership took a fresh look at the conventional battery development process and decided to focus on three storage approaches that promise to take us beyond current lithium-ion limitations, overcome manufacturing barriers and reduce the investment risk for American industry.”

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., supported Sandia’s role in the application to DOE earlier this year. “Sandia is a cornerstone of New Mexico’s leadership in clean energy technology,” he said. “The combination of energy storage, renewable energy and electric vehicles holds great promise in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, cutting pollution and saving consumers money.”

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said: “Our ability to shift more dramatically to homegrown, renewable energies depends in part on development of the next generation of energy storage technologies. I am glad that Sandia National Laboratories has been selected to participate in this extremely important research project.”

Sandia materials scientist Kevin Zavadil will serve as principal investigator for one approach that will focus on advanced metal-anode based batteries, such as metal-air concepts. A rechargeable metal-air battery stores and releases energy through the reversible electrochemical transformation of oxygen, supplied by air, and a reactive metal to and from a solid or dissolved oxide product. Metal-air batteries utilize oxygenas one of the electrochemically active materials in the battery, replacing solid or liquid electrodes found in more conventional batteries.

“The promise of a five-fold increase in energy density for rechargeable metal-air batteries has long been recognized but never realized because of a lack of understanding of the reaction pathways involved,” Zavadil said.

Zavadil said Sandia will apply advanced diagnostics and its expertise in materials science to help the JCESR team determine how to manipulate reactions to achieve breakthrough energy storage densities.

Travis Anderson, an inorganic chemist at Sandia, will contribute to a second storage approach seeking major performance improvements in non-aqueous redox flow batteries.

Flow batteries convert chemical energy into electricity by pumping a solution of free-floating charged metal ions from an external tank through an electrochemical cell. They can be rapidly charged and discharged for many cycles, making them valuable for grid storage applications. Sandia will explore a new family of liquid salt electrolytes, known as RAILs or redox active ionic liquids, that could lead to cost-effective flow batteries that store five times more energy than today’s flow batteries.

Sandia researcher Christopher Apblett will be investigating new architectures and flow batteries and building prototypes of those designs.

“As new electrode chemistries are developed with improved energy and power density, we will take those materials and incorporate them into new battery architectures that maximize the advantage that the new materials provide,” Apblett said.


The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) is a major public-private partnership that integrates U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories (Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory), major research universities (Northwestern University; University of Chicago; University of Illinois-Chicago; University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and the University of Michigan) and leading industrial companies (Applied Materials Inc., Clean Energy Trust, Dow Chemical Co. and Johnson Controls Inc.) to help advance cutting-edge energy storage and battery technologies that can be used to improve the reliability and the efficiency of the electrical grid, to better integrate clean, renewable energy technologies as part of the electrical system, and for use in electric and hybrid vehicles that will reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

JCESR is the latest of DOE’s four Energy Innovation Hubs. Each hub addresses a specific national energy challenge. DOE will provide JCESR with $24 million a year for five years, depending on congressional appropriations. To see more about Sandia’s energy storage work, explore Sandia’s energy storage website. See DOE’s news release here.

JCESR will be centered on the campus of the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, outside Chicago.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Stephanie Holinka,, (505) 284-9227