The Energy Storage and Distributed Resources Division (ESDR) works on developing advanced batteries and fuel cells for transportation and stationary energy storage, grid-connected technologies for a cleaner, more reliable, resilient, and cost-effective future, and demand responsive and distributed energy technologies for a dynamic electric grid.

Why do we need new technologies for energy storage and the electricity grid?

The U.S. Department of Energy and state agencies have the objective of helping develop economically viable technologies that will reduce the use of imported oil. Over the coming decades, the electricity grid will undergo radical transformations driven by supply and demand forces.

  • On the supply side, variable renewable power (wind and solar) is making considerable inroads. However, their intermittency, and to some extent unpredictability, requires new grid-scale energy-storage technologies to seamlessly integrate these rapidly growing power sources with traditional electricity generation technologies.
  • A consequence of inexpensive natural gas is that it will reduce the cost of hydrogen production from steam reforming. Hydrogen-fuel-cell economics will become more attractive, but their cost and durability still require improvement.
  • On the demand side, local, state and federal initiatives will facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Aligned with the Department of Energy's EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, there is a crucial need to develop advanced batteries to enable a large market penetration of hybrid and electric vehicles.
  • Rapid and "smart" demand response technologies and open communications will be needed to contribute to reducing peaks of electricity consumption in buildings and end uses.
  • At the intersection of power production and consumption, millions of EVs will de facto represent an enormous pool of electricity storage for the grid. "Vehicle-to-Grid" technologies are only in their infancy. The infrastructure for smart interactions between vehicles and the grid needs to be developed.

What We Do

  1. Energy Storage—develop the next generation of technology for batteries (transportation, stationary storage and mobile applications.)
  2. Applied Energy Materials—focuses on synthesis and processing of energy materials, including energy storage materials, solar energy materials, high-performance materials, and prototype development.
  3. Energy Conversion—develops efficient combustion technologies, next-generation fuel cells, and transport phenomena.
  4. Grid integration—develop the technologies and tools that (a) facilitate dynamic interaction between grid operators and energy consumers; (b) support the grid integration of intermittent renewable sources; and (c) foster the participation of distributed energy resources.
  5. Laser technologies—develop advanced spectroscopy technologies to detect and characterize materials at a distance and with extremely high depth and lateral resolution.