Sandia’s transportation energy storage research programs apply scientific understanding of battery degradation mechanisms to develop technologies to improve battery performance, economics, and safety to enable widespread electrification of the nation’s transportation fleet.
A demonstration Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) in New York City.
Automobile and truck transportation accounts for 71% of U.S. oil use and 33.5% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.† A national energy goal is to reduce CO2 emissions to 17% of 2005 levels by 2050.‡ Assuming linear growth from today’s population levels and energy-use activities, we must achieve over a factor of seven reduction in CO2 emissions. Additionally, the nation would like to reduce petroleum usage for transportation by 17% at the end of this decade.‡
Efficient transportation will be a key element of any path toward reducing oil use and GHGs. Cost-effective emission reductions will be achieved through a combined strategy of improving vehicle engine efficiency, expanding the use of lownet-carbon fuels, and vehicle electrification while enhancing vehicle aerodynamics and reducing vehicle weight. While hybrid and full vehicle electrification improves efficiency, current battery technology imposes range/mobility limitations consumers are reluctant to accept.
Battery safety is a critical factor to battery technology’s widespread adoption in the electric vehicle marketplace. Any safety issues resulting from poorly designed vehicle batteries could destroy consumer confidence in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) and set back transportation fleet electrification by years or even decades. Sandia’s decades of experience in applied materials R&D and systems and abuse testing assists industry in implementing advanced, science-based safety features that can avoid such incidents.
Sandia’s goal is a science-based understanding of electrochemical atomic/molecular processes that is connected with the macroscopic response of packaged batteries to mitigate safety concerns, extend battery lifetimes, and increase battery efficiency through three highly coordinated thrusts:
- large-scale battery testing to measure critical thermochemical and thermophysical repsonse phenomena that can provide detectable signatures of end-of-life degradation mechanisms,
- in situ nano-scale characterization to gain an atomistic understanding of these mechanisms, and
- multi-scale modeling, building predictive models linking atomistic processes with macroscopic responses.
These thrusts, using commercial materials and systems from industry partners, will enable the predictive simulations of battery performance so critically needed to increase battery material capacity, lifetime, and safety.