America’s Department of Energy’s (DoE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), says up to US$30m will be available in funding for a new programme focused on creating components for the next generation of batteries, fuel cells and other electrochemical devices.

ARPA-E’s Integration and Optimisation of Novel Ion Conducting Solids (Ionics) programme will create high performance separators and electrodes built with solid ion conductors.

The IONICS programme will also focus on new processing methods and device integration to accelerate these high performance components to commercial deployment.  

“The IONICS programme will focus on three main applications: energy storage for the transportation sector, grid storage, and hydrogen fuel cells and electrolysers,” said an ARPA-E statement. “The energy storage used for automotive applications today, such as electric vehicles, is based on Lithium-ion technology that is approaching performance limits.

“The IONICS programme seeks to enable a new generation of Lithium-based batteries that will allow a longer driving range and lower cost by enabling the use of Lithium metal as a battery electrode. For grid applications where wind and solar are rapidly expanding and facing constraints due to output intermittency, the IONICS program seeks to enable a new generation of batteries (including flow batteries) that will have lower cost and longer life, with an ultimate goal of providing a steady power output from wind and solar though the use of batteries at costs similar to today’s electricity prices.

“Finally, the IONICS program will create a critical component of a hydrogen fuel cell or electrolyser that will allow operation with less expensive catalyst materials, which will lower cost and increase the commercial potential of hydrogen as an energy carrier for use in vehicles, homes and other applications.” 

ARPA-E is encouraging scientists and engineers from different organisations, scientific disciplines and technology sectors to form new project teams for the IONICS programme.