Game Changers: Energy Science, Innovation and the Future of America

Photo Credit: Argonne
Photo Credit: Argonne
What does it really mean to change the game in energy technologies? Not to change a single game  – as with a last-second shot at the buzzer, a Hail Mary pass, or a diving catch to close out the inning – but to transform the entire game, with new rules, new technologies, and often-unexpected new results.

In the National Laboratory system, we are working on new energy technologies that could transform the ways we generate, store and use energy, and that could protect our environment while recharging our national economy. But as we tackle the fundamental scientific research we need to discover and develop disruptive new energy technologies, it’s worthwhile to ask: What does game-changing technology look like, and what are currently our best prospects for game changers?

At Argonne National Laboratory, we believe we are creating new opportunities to change the game through the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) – the Department of Energy’s new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub.

Through this new Hub, we are combining the R&D firepower of the national laboratories with top partners in academia and private industry (including Applied Materials) to create a 21st-century model of discovery and innovation -- bringing together the right people and giving them the right tools to address one of the greatest energy challenges of our time.  

With JCESR, we are moving away from the existing model in which most researchers work in relative isolation, only sharing their discoveries and innovations when they’re ready to publish – or, in industrial settings, when they have a product that’s ready for the market.

We have designed the Hub to bring those individual minds together in one functioning, collaborative, integrated system – a place where good ideas move swiftly and successfully from the lab bench to the marketplace, with industry providing input and feedback at every step along the way.

Our goals for game-changing energy storage systems are clear and specific: transportation-scale batteries with a consumer price of $100/kWh, with an energy density of 400 Wh/kg and a 15-year calendar life, and grid-scale batteries with a $100/kWh cost, a 20-year calendar life and safety equivalent to a natural gas turbine. And we have set an aggressive five-year goal of battery technologies that are five times more powerful and one-fifth as costly as the best batteries available today.

As we approach these challenges, we will continue the basic, fundamental research that leads to scientific breakthroughs, while finding new opportunities for international collaboration to accelerate high-potential technologies. And with great partners such as Applied Materials, I believe we will succeed in changing the game – and changing the world. 

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