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US aims to revolutionise batteries with $120 million energy storage research facility

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

US DoE JCESRThe United States Department of Energy (DoE) is to create a $120 million energy storage research facility – the Joint Centre for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) – with the intention of developing batteries “five times more powerful and five times cheaper within five years”.

Led by Chicago’s Argonne National Laboratory, with input from DOE national laboratories, five universities and Dow Chemical, Applied Materials, Johnson Controls and Clean Energy Trust, the centre – affectionately known as ‘J-CESAR’ - will focus on increasing the electric range for vehicle batteries and increasing storage capabilities for wind, solar and hydropower.

Argonne Director Eric Isaacs said: “A factor of two is great. It can be engineered, and we’re gonna work on that. That’ll be the milestones along the way. But really factors of five are what we need to transform both the power grid and transportation.”

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the centre could revolutionise battery storage and create new industries. “You [could] go to a Costco or Sears and buy a battery that you can store 3-4 kW in your home. That battery can be your local source, it takes a big load off the utilities, and you would have a much more efficient grid — something much less susceptible to surges and blackouts” he said.