Because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, renewable energy resources require large-scale energy storage to ensure their energy is available when and where it’s needed. However, grid-scale energy storage is not yet mature, and we must reduce the cost of energy storage while improving performance, safety, and longevity to achieve meaningful progress in decarbonizing our electricity supply. This requires accelerated development of a new generation of storage materials and batteries.
PNNL’s Energy Storage Materials Initiative (ESMI) is a five-year, strategic investment to develop new scientific approaches that accelerate energy storage research and development (R&D). The ESMI team is pioneering use of digital twin technology and physics-informed, data-based modeling tools to converge the virtual and physical worlds, while closely integrating experimentation and modeling. With these and other innovative approaches, ESMI is transforming materials research from a trial-and-error approach to a structured, virtual screening that substantially accelerates the identification of promising new energy storage materials from hundreds of millions of potential combinations.
With support from the Department of Energy (DOE), PNNL has established a national leadership position in energy storage R&D. PNNL is home to leading experts in materials science, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and scientific computing who are improving the fundamental properties of battery materials, while PNNL’s engineers, grid experts, and economists work to design and test new energy storage technologies in collaboration with industry.
The digital twin approach developed from the ESMI project will reinvent the process of materials discovery, system design, scale-up, and deployment. These capabilities and tools will impact other energy-related research (e.g., catalysis, electro-catalysis, bioenergy) and national security.
The ESMI program directly supports PNNL’s laboratory objective of energy decarbonization through grid control and energy storage, and ESMI’s R&D activities will be central to the new Grid Storage Launchpad facility being built on PNNL’s Richland campus.