Extended Lifetime Energy Storage for Alternative Energy

2009-13 New Investigator Award

The drive to reduce dependence on fossil fuels has spurred a rapid growth and increased interest in developing alternative sources of energy such as wind, tidal or solar power.  In these alternative energy technologies, electricity generation is not uniform in time owing to intensity fluctuations and periodicities in the incident energy source.  This leads to inefficient harvesting and conversion and ultimately limits the ability to deliver reliable electricity to the grid or provide stable off-the-grid power.  It is for this reason that one of the least recognized and true grand challenges facing alternative energy is the development of reliable, extended lifetime energy storage systems.

Arnold’s project is directly addressing this important challenge on two fronts.  At the materials level, the team has been developing novel scientific and technological solutions that will enable batteries to last over more recharge cycles without losing capacity.  At the systems level, innovative technology and methods for the integration of energy storage with alternative energy systems are being developed.  Both efforts are actively engaging a diverse cross-section of the university community in understanding the opportunities and challenges at this critical frontier.

To date, significant progress has been made on both efforts.  In a recent journal publication, the team presented fundamental and game-changing results that demonstrated the importance of mechanical forces on the lifetime of batteries.  Through this effort, novel methods for modifying the internal battery components have been developed providing an important new dimension for battery development. For larger scale systems, the team has had recent success in experimentally characterizing different types of electrochemical energy storage devices for their response to irregular charging currents.  Based on these results, numerical models are being developed that will be able to optimize these devices when integrated with alternative energy systems.

Educational Impacts

In the fall of 2010, Arnold successfully implemented a new freshman seminar course (FRS 167) entitled “Science and Technology for a Sustainable Energy Future.” In this course, students are introduced to various technologies associated with sustainable energy though hands on lab experiments, field trips, videos, readings, and traditional class lectures.

As a participant to this Grand Challenges funded research project, graduate student Christina Peabody won a best student presentation award at the International Forum on Multidisciplinary Education and Research for Energy Science.

Other Outcomes

The project has resulted in the following publications to date:

C. Peabody and C. B. Arnold, “The role of mechanically induced creep in lithium-ion battery capacity fade,” J. Power Sources, Vol 196 No 19, p. 8147-8153 (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2011.05.023

A. Atre and C. B. Arnold, “Texturing of LiCoO2 Through Laser Induced Forward Transfer for Printed Microbatteries”, in Laser-based micro- and nanopackaging and assembly, ed. W. Pfleging, Y. Lu, and K. Washio, International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), 7921,792122 (2011)

Participating Department

Related Media and Press Coverage


Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Professor, Operations Research and Financial Engineering