One of the emerging seed areas within the CMI project involves the development of energy storage technologies to complement the existing efforts on carbon reduction, capture and storage during energy generation. These technologies are of critical importance for portable power but also for providing load leveling and regulation on the grid. Although this is a very broad area that involves expertise in a number of topics, the Arnold Group has taken a combined approach involving both the assessment and optimized usage of existing technology and the development of new technologies to meet emerging demands for energy storage that are compatible with modern forms of energy generation.
In the area of assessment and optimization, the researchers have recently begun working to detail the relevant metrics of energy storage including the response time (i.e. how fast a given technology can store energy and how fast it can release that energy) and the energy density (i.e. how much energy can be stored) for a number of existing technologies including pumped hydro, compressed air, mechanical flywheels, batteries, and supercapacitors. Given a better understanding of the benefits and limitations of existing technologies, they have begun to study new materials and methods to improve performance. To this end, the group has focused on electrochemical energy storage include batteries and supercapacitors and developing a better understanding of the relationship between the external forces on the materials and their resulting electrochemical performance. By improving the mechanical stability of these materials, the researchers seek to improve the cycle life of existing batteries and supercapacitors, thereby decreasing the need for replacements and decreasing the overall cost for implementation.