Army’s ‘extreme batteries’ research center taps local experts

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is a leader in electrolyte chemistry used to make high energy dense batteries to develop new ways for U.S. land forces to store energy in an operational environment. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is a leader in electrolyte chemistry used to make high energy dense batteries to develop new ways for U.S. land forces to store energy in an operational environment. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

By Joyce P. Brayboy, U.S. Army Research Laboratory

  • ARL scientists are on a search for advanced battery chemistries.
  • The Army’s Center for Research in Extreme Batteries will host a meeting this spring for experts interested in taking part.

ADELPHI, Md. — The U.S. Army’s Center for Research in Extreme Batteries strengthens bonds between partners who want to solve practical battery problems.

Officials held the inaugural Power and Energy innovation workshop in 2014 to get local experts in batteries and materials talking, for an integrated, cross disciplinary look at challenges that may have solutions beneficial to all.

The workshop kicked off the Center for Research in Extreme Batteries as a regional hub in advancing battery chemistries with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, as the lead, and University of Maryland as the co-lead of the newly forming center.

Dr. Kang Xu, explained to the crowd of more than 100 leading experts from the local universities, government labs and industry that the ground forces reliance on energy in places beyond traditional grid access has led ARL scientists on a search for advanced battery chemistries that are beyond the expertise of government laboratories alone.

An expert in his own right, and best known in the field for his two comprehensive reviews on electrolyte materials, published at Chemical Reviews in 2004 and 2014, respectively, Xu asked the on-looking members of government, university and industry organizations for their help.

“In order for the real advances in energy storage technology to happen, a lot needs to be understood at fundamental levels, and we will have to extend the current expertise. It’s not enough to just have me or our other group members inside ARL. We will have to include a lot of other disciplines and form a team that is strongly associated by complementing expertises,” Xu said.

The concept of the center started with Xu and Dr. Chunsheng Wang, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering within the Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland, using their complementary experience in electrolytes and electrodes, respectively, to build up to advances in rechargeable batteries over the course of years. They co-authored a number of publications in scientific journals of high-impact numbers, and were funded by Department of Energy.

Continue reading

Army researchers develop batteries that don’t corrode

Kang Xu, an Army Research Laboratory scientist, is one of the inventors responsible for a 30-percent increase in energy density in lithium batteries. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Kang Xu, an Army Research Laboratory scientist, is one of the inventors responsible for a 30-percent increase in energy density in lithium batteries. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

By C. Todd Lopez, Army News Service

New, lighter batteries are under development for Soldiers now, in-house, at the Army Research Laboratory at Adelphi, Maryland.

Chemists at the lab here do materials research on lithium ion batteries and other advanced battery chemistry in an effort to support the warfighter.

“We help to develop new battery materials that are lighter and last longer for the Soldier, so he doesn’t have to carry so many batteries,” said Cynthia Lundgren, a chemist and Chief of the Electrochemistry Branch of the Power and Energy Division in the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate.

To create a better battery, Lundgren and her team experiment with small “button cells,” such as what one might find in a watch. A “cell” consists of two electrodes: an “anode,” which is the side marked with a “minus” sign; and a metal oxide or phosphate cathode, which bears the “plus” sign. Between these two electrodes is a liquid electrolyte soaked separator that facilitates the transfer of lithium ions to transfer charge. One or more of these “cells” is used to construct a battery pack.

Continue reading

Ensuring a highly capable force within evolving budgetary constraints

Staff Sgt. Reag Wood of the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, uses his iPhone to observe mock insurgents during an exercise at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, Dec. 8, 2010. Photo: Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office

Staff Sgt. Reag Wood of the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, uses his iPhone to observe mock insurgents during an exercise at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, Dec. 8, 2010. Photo: Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office

Communications devices, GPS, portable displays: They’re all hungry for power. Today’s Soldier would be better served with batteries that last longer, are lighter and recharge wirelessly.

There’s a good article on Wired.com about how Army researchers are working to eliminate cables with wireless chargers that may have a range of more than 50 feet!

Army scientists are also hard at work building better batteries. In the future, we’ll all benefit from the outstanding research done today in Army labs.

Army scientists energize battery research

Emily Wikner, an Army Research Laboratory intern, assists in battery research. She will be a junior this year at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson, RDECOM Public Affairs)

Emily Wikner, an Army Research Laboratory intern, assists in battery research. She will be a junior this year at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson, RDECOM Public Affairs)

 

By David McNally, RDECOM Public Affairs

ADELPHI, Md. — Army scientists are squeezing more power from batteries by developing new methods and materials with incredible results.

“Our battery group has recently developed some new materials that could potentially increase the energy density of batteries by 30 percent,” said Dr. Cynthia Lundgren, electrochemical branch chief at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

This small group of scientists work on energy and power solutions for America’s Soldiers.

“This 30 percent is actually quite a big deal. Typically improvements range about 1 percent a year with a few step changes,” Lundgren said.

For years, researchers studied how batteries work. They looked at how each component reacts with another. At high voltages batteries are extremely energetic systems.

“There has never been a battery, a single cell, that operated at 5 volts,” Lundgren explained. “Through our understanding of that interface, we were able to design an additive that you add into the electrolyte that is somewhat of a sacrificial agent. It preferentially reacts with the electrode and forms a stable interface. Now the battery is able to operate at 5 volts.”

Scientists are calling the additive a major step forward. Since Army researchers Dr. Kang Xu and Dr. Arthur Cresce designed the substance two years ago, the lab has filed patent applications.

“This is what you would call a quantum leap,” Cresce said. “We’ve gone from circling around a certain type of 4 volt energy for quite a while. All of a sudden a whole new class of batteries and voltages are open to us. The door is open that was closed before.”

Army research has the potential to reduce battery weight and allow Soldiers to carry more ammunition or water.

“Our goal is to make things easier for the Soldier,” Lundgren said. “This research started because of the Army’s unique needs. There is a huge investment in batteries.”

In the future, Lundgren hopes they just don’t make better materials, but rather design new types of energy devices undreamt of today.

“We’re looking at designing systems to allow for ubiquitous energy — energy anywhere for the Soldier using indigenous sources,” Lundgren said. “Some of our new programs are looking at how we may make fuel out of water. For instance, can we split water and make hydrogen to be used as fuel in a fuel cell or small engine?”

Lundgren said future advances will occur with the right resources.

“The laboratory gives us really good resources, but our highest value resource is our scientists,” she said. “We have an exceptional group of scientists here. We’ve been able to retain them. They have been sought after by many people. But, they’re ability to do good research here, research that can make a difference has allowed us to attract and retain really top talent.”

Renewable energy powers Soldiers

Army secretary tours research, development facilities

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 30, 2010) — Renewable energy sources will soon be powering batteries, vehicles and other pieces of equipment that give Soldiers an edge on the battlefield.

Providing Soldiers with greater flexibility, implementing renewable energy, and developing fuel cells and biological power sources are top priorities for the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Army Power Division.

Rafael Casanova, battery team leader for the power division at CERDEC, said the center has been tasked with contributing to the modernization of infantry brigade combat teams.

Read more…

Like us on Facebook!Follow us on  Twitter!Contact us  on Flickr!Subscribe on YouTube!We're on CNN  iReport!Linkedin  discussions!


Bookmark and Share

Media report: WindTamer announces initial sale of mobile trailer-mounted turbine to Army

Rochester, NY, April 7, 2010 – WindTamer Corporation announced today the sale of a mobile trailer-mounted 1.0kW WindTamer turbine and energy storage unit to the U.S. Army. The turbine will be utilized as a demonstration unit for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command as a means of charging batteries for communications equipment. RDECOM is the Army’s largest technology developer and its primary source for research, development and engineering capabilities. The WindTamer unit is expected to initially reside at RDECOM’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Read more…