Northeastern University’s 2nd Annual International Conference




MRES 2014


From Materials Challenges to System Integration and Application



August 19 – 21, 2014

Raytheon Amphitheatre, Egan Research Center, Northeastern University, Boston MA






Tuesday, August 19, 2014 – Day One / Morning






8:00 Registration and Refreshments


9:00 Organizers’ Welcome and Opening Remarks
Prof. Sanjeev Mukerjee, Director – NUCRET, Northeastern University Center for Renewable Energy Technology


9:05 Welcome Address
Prof. Murray Gibson, Dean College of Science, Northeastern University


9:15 Keynote Address

Progress in U.S. Grid Energy Storage 
Dr. Imre Gyuk, Program Manager, Energy Storage Research, U.S. Department of Energy

With the increasing penetration of variable renewable generation storage is now becoming one of the hottest topics in the utility industry. Research on materials and devices has increased cost effectiveness, cycle life and safety. Besides Li-ion batteries, flywheels, flow batteries, and advanced lead-carbon batteries are being deployed. Markets are now gradually taking shape as changes in the regulatory framework result in more equitable valuation of storage benefits. The presentation will discuss multi-megawatt applications of a variety of energy storage technologies. Major recent storage facilities constructed in Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico under the ARRA stimulus program will be presented. As major players begin deploying increasingly more substantial storage projects, operators are recognizing their value for ancillary services. In particular, smoothing and ramping of wind and solar PV are being addressed. Emergency preparedness through storage microgrids is another important development. There are now over 1000 storage projects listed in the Global Energy Storage Data Base. But with the new California mandate for 1.3MW of deployment, we can expect an exciting upsurge in storage research and many new projects to be realized. Storage will make renewables dispatchable and enable deeper penetration. It will also make the grid more resilient, improve asset utilization, and prevent outages.


10:00 Keynote Address
Alicia Barton, Chief Executive Officer, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)
(Abstract will be available shortly)


10:30 Networking / Refreshment Break


11:00 Keynote Address
Organic-Based Aqueous Flow Batteries for Massive Electrical Energy Storage
Prof. Michael J. Aziz, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University
The greatest technical obstacle to us getting most of our electricity from sunshine and wind is their intermittency. We have developed a battery that has a fighting chance of safely and cost-effectively storing electrical energy at a large enough scale to address this problem. It is based on the electrochemical activity of small organic molecules in aqueous solution that are very inexpensive. The potential manipulations available to organic chemists offer countless prospects for continued performance improvement.


11:45 Key Technical Challenges and Solutions for the Development of Ultra-High Specific Energy Li-Air and L–S Batteries
Dr. Steven J. Visco, Chief Executive Officer and CTO, PolyPlus Battery Company
PolyPlus invented and patented a new generation of water-stableprotected lithium metal electrodes. These anodes are enabling for lithium-air, lithium-water, and lithium-sulfur batteries, as well as secondary batteries employing metal oxide cathodes. PolyPlus has demonstrated Li-Air and Li-Water batteries with specific energies of 800 Wh/kg and 1300 Wh/kg, respectively, and are developing a radically new rechargeable lithium-sulfur battery based on aqueous polysulfide electrodes. The aqueous Li-S battery offers tremendous advantages over the non-aqueous analog including greatly enhanced solubility of lithium polysulfides, a 3000-fold increase in the solubility of Li2S (final discharge product), non-flammability of the electrolyte, no need for a supporting electrolyte salt, and the replacement of expensive non-aqueous electrolyte with an inexpensive water-based electrolyte.  Moreover, since Li2S is insoluble in organic electrolytes, carbon or silicon-based anodes are impractical for non-aqueous Li-S batteries.  In stark contrast, the high solubility of Li2S in water facilitates the use of alternative anodes for aqueous Li-S technology. PolyPlus has already demonstrated quick charging of carbon anodes from aqueous polysulfides, and subsequent cycling of carbon-sulfur batteries at extremely high capacity. The high solubility of Li2S in water allows development of rechargeable Li-S batteries in the range of 800 Wh/l and 600 Wh/kg.


12:15 Lunch Break





Tuesday, August 19, 2014 – Day One / Afternoon




2:00 Recent Progress in Redox Flow Battery Energy Storage Systems
Dr. H. Frank Gibbard, CEO, WattJoule Corporation
The recent drive to greater use of renewable energy sources has created a strong interest in the development and commercialization of large-scale energy storage systems. Redox flow batteries (RFBs) have emerged as strong contenders for stationary rechargeable systems because of their potential for low cost, long cycle and calendar life, and safety. Recent advances in RFB technology are discussed, particularly increases in power density and energy density at high round-trip electrical efficiency. As RFBs are nearing commercial viability, emphasis is placed on systems that may be able to support the anticipated exponential growth in renewable energy over the next few years.


2:30 Understanding and Optimizing the H2/Br2 Redox Flow Battery for Grid-Scale Energy Storage
Dr. Adam Z. Weber, Staff Scientist/Engineer, Electrochemical Technologies Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
We have leveraged off of our work in fuel cells to increase greatly the performance of this RFB including obtaining good cycle life. In the presentation, we will go over the technology, the bottlenecks, and the obtained improvements in performance and durability including some interesting operating condition ranges determined through ex-situ diagnostics and cost modeling.


3:00 Redox Flow Battery Utilizing a Mixed Acid Electrolyte at Elevated Temperatures and High Current Density
Dr. Vincent Sprenkle, Technical Group Manager, Electrochemical Materials and Systems Group, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is currently conducting extensive research and development efforts into multiple energy storage systems under the Department of Energy – Office of Electricity (DOE-OE.) Energy Storage Program including vanadium redox flow batteries. This talk will focus on the latest developments in redox stack development including stack design and performance validation utilizing PNNL’s mixed acid redox electrolyte which can operate at temperature > 50°C without significant degradation in performance.


3:30 Networking / Refreshment Break


4:00 Materials and System Challenges in Electrical Energy Storage
Prof. Trung Van Nguyen, Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, The University of Kansas
Electrochemical conversion and storage systems such as stationary batteries, flow batteries, super-capacitors and fuel cells are expected to play a crucial role in the electrification of transportation and large scale deployment of renewable energy sources of intermittent nature like wind and solar. Major challenges remain in all of these systems, and no single high-performance, cost-effective and durable system is currently available. This presentation discusses the materials and system challenges in electrical energy storage systems such as stationary and flow batteries.


4:30 Non-aqueous Redox Flow Batteries: Challenges and Opportunities

Dr. Fikile R. Brushett, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and MIT Energy Initiative

Robust, scalable, and low cost stationary energy storage is needed to stabilize the electric grid against the intermittency common to solar and wind-generated power, thus improving grid reliability and thereby enabling the broader use of renewable resources. Transitioning from aqueous to non-aqueous solvents enables battery operation at double the cell potential (i.e., 3V) which, in turn, leads to higher energy density. Moreover, a greater selection of redox materials may be available due to either the wider potential window or the variety of non-aqueous solvents. However, this promise must be balanced with the challenges associated with non-aqueous electrolytes including increased solvent cost, reduced ionic conductivity and other undesirable physical properties. Here, we present the challenges and opportunities in the science and engineering of non-aqueous redox flow batteries capable of meeting DOE-established grid storage costs.


5:00 Exhibitor’s Highlights


5:15 Networking Reception (Room 440 Egan)


6:00 End of Day One




Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – Day Two / Morning




8:00 Refreshments


9:00 Lithium-ion batteries for Stationary Energy Storage: Opportunities and Limitations
Prof. K. M. Abraham, Northeastern University Center for Renewable Energy Technology, Northeastern University
Stationary energy storage batteries are an integral part of the electricity distribution architecture to provide reliability of service to consumers. Electricity is stored in batteries or other energy storage technologies in order to furnish grid reliability by means of load leveling, peak power shaving, frequency regulation and other kinds of quality distribution. Increasing dependence on solar, wind and other renewable energy sources also require batteries to store the generated electricity for use during periods when these energy sources are not functional. Traditionally much of the large-scale electricity storage was done with lead acid batteries. However, advanced battery systems are sought to improve the efficiency of storage and distribution, provide longer battery life and decrease maintenance. In this respect Li-ion batteries can play an important role. The Li-ion battery technology will be briefly reviewed with a focus on identifying battery chemistries that can meet the power, lifetime and cost guidelines of large-scale storage systems. Rechargeable batteries beyond Li-ion systems will also be briefly discussed.


9:45 Electrode and Molecular Architectures for Iron Based Multivalent Systems
Dr. Jagjit Nanda, Research Staff, Physical Chemistry of Materials Group, Materials Science & Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Lithium-ion electrodes based on single charge transfer intercalation mechanism exhibit stable reversible capacity and cycle life but their specific capacities range only between 150-180 mAh/g. On the other hand multivalent lithium-ion transition metal (TM) compounds and conversion-based cathodes enable multi electron transfer per TM atom with at least a factor of 2-3 higher capacitiy. However, conversion electrodes suffer from poor rechargeablity and high hysteresis leading to poor energy efficiency. Multiple factors such as, intrinsically poor ionic and electronic conductivity, slow kinetics of the reconversion reaction and formation/rearrangement of discharge product phases contribute towards their poor rechargeability and capacity fade. The talk will focus on some of our recent results on conversion-based cathodes, iron fluorides and oxide systems in addressing these issues. Specifically, the presentation will discuss the role of electrode architecture combined with approaches such as controlling primary particle size as well as chemical substitution on the electrochemical performance of Iron Fluoride (FeF2 and FeF3) systems. 3D electrode architecture based on carbon fiber matrix show a considerable decrease in the hysteresis and increase in cycle life compared to the conventional slurry based electrode composition. The hysteresis is even further decreased with a concomitant increase in discharge capacity and cycle life when the cells are cycled at 60°C. In addition, we propose a novel molecular approach for conversion compounds by converting iron oxides to oxyfluorides/fluorides through a controlled fluorination process. Our study suggests that the fluorination process occurs from surface to core of the oxide particles with increased fluorinating temperatures. This is supported by electrochemical capacity enhancement along with a concomitant increase in voltage plateau of the fluorinated samples as demonstrated in the electrochemical cycling, differential capacity and cyclic voltammetry results. This research is supported by ORNL and DOE EERE.


10:15 Graphene-based nanostructures for Electrochemical Energy storage
Dr. Tereza M. Paronyan, Staff Scientist, ElectroOptics Research Institute & Nanotechnology Center; Lab Manager, Huson Nanotechnology Core Facility, University of Louisville
Graphene, a single layered graphite sheet, promises to be used in next generation energy storages (Li-ion rechargeable batteries, hydrogen storages, solar devices, supercapacitors etc.) due to its low weight and cost efficiency, chemical tolerance, non-toxicity, and its abundance. The electrochemical application of graphene originates from its theoretical high specific surface area, high intrinsic electron mobility, good optical transmittance, and its chemical stability in electrochemical cells. Preparation routes of graphene sheets strongly affect their crystalline structure, and therefore their physical and electrochemical properties defining the area of graphene applications. This paper analyses the scale-up synthesis methods of 2D and 3D graphene based nanostructures, reveals some important factors affecting its properties and formation, and demonstrates the perspectives of the application of those materials in electrochemical cells.


10:45 Networking / Refreshment Break


11:15 Surface Modification to Enable Li-ion Batteries for Vehicular Applications
Dr. Seoung-Bum Son, Scientist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Significant advances in energy density, rate capability and safety will be required for the implementation of Li-ion batteries in plug-in electric vehicles. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) and recently developed Molecular layer deposition (MLD) have been demonstrated as a promising method to enable superior cycling performance for a vast variety of battery electrodes. The electrodes range from already demonstrated commercial technologies (cycled under extreme conditions) to high-energy, high volume-change materials that could eventually lead to batteries with higher energy densities. New conformal nanoscale coatings via ALD/MLD are being developed to accommodate the volumetric expansion, protect the surface from the reactive electrolytes, as well as ensure the electronic paths through the composite electrodes. Successfully coated silicon (Si) anodes have exhibited greatly improved cycling performance than that of uncoated Si anodes. The results show that 5 nm aluminum alkoxide coatings can enable the durable cycling of Si anodes over a hundred cycles without major capacity fade. High‐resolution microscopy was performed to study the effect of the conformal coatings on the evolution of Si structure and morphology during lithiation/delithiation. The findings imply that the good resilience of the elastic coatings provides sufficient mechanical support to accommodate the major volumetric changes experienced by Si anodes, as well as to aid in the recovery and preservation of the whole composite network upon delithiation. In-situ optical spectroscopy was also applied to understand the impact of coating materials on the interfacial chemistry of Si anodes. These results will be presented in detail.
In collaboration with: Chunmei Ban, NREL; and Daniela Molina Piper, Younghee Lee, Jonathan Travis, Se-Hee Lee, Steven M. George, University of Colorado at Boulder


11:45 A Dual- Circuit Redox Flow Battery for Hydrogen Production
Dr. Kathryn Toghill, Scientist, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne – EPFL, Switzerland
(Abstract will be available shortly)


12:15 Lunch Break





Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – Day Two / Afternoon




2:00 Next Generation Chemistries for Li-ion and Beyond: Multivalent Intercalation
Dr. Anthony K. Burrell, Group Leader, Electrochemical Energy Storage / Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, Argonne National Laboratory
Today’s Li-ion system lacks sufficient energy density to meet the 750 Wh/kg necessary for vehicles, and isn’t affordable enough to power the electrical grid. Multivalent ions such as Mg, Ca, or Al allow us to exploit changes in the oxidation states that increase the capacity of materials. Specifically, Mg2+ cathode materials have the potential to achieve capacities approaching 600 mAh/g, and theoretical energy densities of 1600 Wh/kg. To accomplish this, we will must identify the maximum energy density that can be achieved with a multivalent cathode/electrolyte system and couple this with a metal anode.  In addition, challenges with transporting multivalent ions through electrolytes, across interfaces and though crystal lattices must be addressed.


2:30 Liquid Metal Battery for Grid-Scale Energy Storage
Dr. Takanari Ouchi, Senior Researcher; and Dr. Donald R. Sadoway, Professor, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
To address the need for a large-scale electrical energy storage device, we have developed the liquid metal battery. This consists entirely of liquid active components, i.e., liquid metal negative electrode, molten salt electrolyte, and liquid metal positive electrode, which self-segregate into three distinct layers due to their density differences and mutual immiscibility. This all-liquid construction confers  fast electrode kinetics and morphological stability resulting in long cycle life as well as simple manufacturing of large-scale systems with low cost materials. The R&D history of the liquid metal battery at MIT, such as selection of electrodes, electrolytes, and secondary cell components and challenges of scale-up will be presented.


3:00 Advances in Inexpensive Aqueous Batteries for Large Scale Electrical Energy Storage
Prof. Sri R. Narayan, Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Grid-scale electrical energy storage at a global scale requires hundreds of gigawatt-hours to be stored,  and hence batteries for this application must be inexpensive, robust, safe and sustainable. None of today’s mature battery technologies meet all of these requirements.  In this presentation, we will summarize the recent research advancements in three aqueous battery systems that have the potential to meet the demanding requirements of grid-scale energy storage:   (1) alkaline iron-air battery, (2) the iron-chloride redox flow battery and (3) a new aqueous organic redox flow battery.  These three battery systems satisfy the primary criterion of using of inexpensive or abundantly-available and sustainable materials for energy storage. The use of toxic heavy metals is completely avoided.  By careful selection of additives, the iron electrode of the alkaline iron-air battery can now be charged at high as C-rate with no more than 5% loss in faradaic efficiency to parasitic hydrogen evolution.  The electro-deposition efficiency of the iron-chloride battery has been improved to as high as 95% with use of additives for complexing the iron (II) in solution and by controlling the pH to stay higher than 2.  We have also advanced a new type of Organic Redox Flow Battery (ORBAT) that employs two different water-soluble organic redox couples on the positive and negative side of a flow battery. The ORBAT configuration presents a unique opportunity for developing an inexpensive and sustainable metal-free rechargeable battery for large-scale electrical energy storage


3:30 A Multi-scale Approach to Sodium-Based Battery Development
Dr. Erik D. Spoerke, Research Scientist, Electronic, Optical, and Nano Materials, Sandia National Laboratories
Sodium ion chemistries offer tremendous potential to advance next generation battery technologies. To realize the effective utility of these emerging battery systems, it is critical to adopt a multi-scale research approach that connects scientific understanding at a molecular scale with integrated device prototyping and testing. Our research focuses on the development of sodium-based battery technologies, utilizing the sodium super ion conductor NaSICON as a solid-state electrolyte. We present here recent scientific updates and technical insights that include study and development of materials chemistries for functional, stable NaSICON ceramic electrolytes, computational models to inform battery cell design, and preliminary studies of sodium battery prototype testing (e.g., sodium-iodine). This integrated approach provides a critical collection of tools needed to accelerate the evolution of these promising battery systems. (Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Company, for the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.)
In collaboration with: Nelson Bell, Cynthia Edney, Jill Wheeler, Randy Cygan, Todd Alam, Paul Clem, and David Ingersoll, Sandia National Labs; Sai Bhavaraju, Ceramatec, Inc.; Robert Kee, Colorado School of Mines; Eric Wachsman, University of Maryland


4:00 Networking / Refreshment Break



Innovation Inspired Industrial Renewable Energy Storage Applications – Issues and Solutions
Facilitator: Dr. H. Frank Gibbard, WattJoule Corporation


5:15 End of Day Two





Thursday, August 21, 2014 – Day Three / Morning




9:00 Fuel Cell and Electrolysis Activities at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)
Dr. Bryan Pivovar, Team Leader – Fuel Cells, Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies Program, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
NREL has programs supporting hydrogen and fuel cell activities that span from fundamental materials development (novel membranes and electrocatalysts) up to demonstration and validation projects involving integrated systems.  Much of the work takes place at NREL’s new Energy System Integration Facility (ESIF) set up as a user facility to help support the broad community looking to improve issues related to renewable energy integration into the grid.  The talk will focus heavily on novel materials, but will contain aspects of NREL’s broader efforts.


9:30 Enabling Smart Grid via Hydrogen Solutions for Energy Storage (title to be confirmed)
Fred Jahnke, Senior Manager, Hydrogen Programs, FuelCell Energy Inc.
(Abstract will be available shortly)


10:00 Graphene Electrodes for Next Generation Lithium-Ion Batteries
Prof. Nikhil A. Koratkar, Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Materials Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Conventional graphitic anodes in lithium-ion batteries provide a maximum specific charge storage capacity of ~372 mAh/g. Moreover graphitic anodes cannot provide high power densities due to slow diffusivity of lithium ions in the bulk electrode material. We will describe novel thermal and photo-thermally reduced freestanding graphene paper as high-energy and high-power density capable electrodes for lithium-ion batteries. These materials are also structurally robust and deliver stable performance for thousands of cycles of charge and discharge. I will explain the fundamental mechanisms that enable the superior performance of graphene electrodes over their graphitic counterparts.


10:30 Networking /Refreshment Break


11:00  Concluding Discussion


11:30 Site Visits to:

NUCRET Northeastern University Center for Renewable Energy Technology
NSF Nanoscale Science & Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing


12:00 End of Conference