In many applications, the demands for energy from consumers do not match the supply that is produced at a given instant in time. This scenario is especially relevant to the electric grid as renewable energy resources with inherently intermittent supply (e.g., wind and solar power) are integrated into it. Energy storage technology acts as a reservoir that decouples the demand of energy from its supply and enables efficient use of energy. A variety of approaches are being used to store energy, including electrochemical and thermochemical storage. In each of these areas continued research and development is required to enable development of new materials and devices.
Areas of Research Focus
The University of Illinois is developing the next generation of energy storage devices through research in engineering and science. These efforts focus on storing renewable energy on the electric grid, enabling electric vehicles with extended range and reduced cost, and storage of thermal energy for enhanced building efficiency to name a few.
Specific projects include:
- Experimental mechanics of anode intercalation in Li-ion batteries.
- Microstructure, transport, and techno-economic modeling of Li-ion and flow batteries.
- Predictive atomistic simulation of battery anode cycling and material behavior.
- Nanostructured materials for Li-ion batteries.
- Heat transfer in Li-ion batteries.
- In situ transmission-electron microscopy of battery active materials.
- Redox-active polymer flow batteries for grid-scale energy storage.
- Mg-ion and lithium/sulfur batteries for electric-vehicle energy storage.
- Building thermal energy storage.
- Storage of solar energy in molten salts for cooking, other residential uses.
- Electrolyte degradation in nickel-iron batteries for stationary storage applications.
- Transportation and storage of spent nuclear fuel.
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