CleanTechnica: Harnessing the power of battery RD&D to battle climate change

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Among our nation’s most powerful strategies for tackling climate change are electrifying transportation and accelerating clean power generation. Both these strategies have one essential thing in common: their success depends on advancements in battery technologies. Economical and fast-charging batteries are key to spurring adoption of all-electric and plugin-hybrid vehicles, while high-energy-density battery storage is needed to address the intermittency of solar and wind power and make the grid more responsive.

Critical materials — including rare earth elements with unique magnetic, catalytic, and luminescent properties — are key resources needed to manufacture products for the clean energy economy, including wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting. However, supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations associated with these valuable resources introduce uncertainty and instability in the production of these essential technologies. In the case of lithium-ion batteries, for example, reliable supplies of lithium and cobalt are vital to the manufacturing of products used for electric vehicles and grid energy storage.

Another strategy is the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), founded by DOE and led by Ames National Laboratory. CMI focuses sustained multidisciplinary R&D efforts on such issues as diversifying the supply of critical materials, developing substitute materials with lower or zero critical materials content, and improving reuse and recycling of critical materials. It also conducts crosscutting research to support enabling basic science needs, address environmental sustainability issues, and evaluate the social and economic viability of CMI-developed science and engineering solutions.

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