Argonne National Laboratory - Topic Capability Sheet

Advanced Concepts in Energy Storage
Developments permit greater reliability and resource utilization.

Energy storage technologies represent one strategy that can help utilities provide the power quality and reliability required by increasingly sensitive equipment, increase the utilization of present capacity, and defer construction of new plants. The main advantages of energy storage are round-the-clock availability and reduced transmission line losses.

Energy storage devices improve system responsiveness, reliability, and flexibility, while reducing capital and operating costs for both suppliers and users. Suppliers can use energy storage for transmission line stabilization, spinning reserve, and voltage control, which means industrial users realize improved power quality and load-leveling. Society benefits by making better use of generation capacity and avoiding new construction.

Argonne’s 25 years experience at the forefront of energy storage research provides wide-ranging expertise in batteries, high-power energy storage, flywheels, and superconductors. The Laboratory’s research in these areas has always been conducted in close partnership with industry. For example, Argonne has worked with Commonwealth Research Corp. to develop an ultra-low-friction superconducting bearing for flywheel energy storage.

The bearing, which uses a permanent magnet suspended above superconductors, has a friction coefficient 1,000 times better than that of the best commercial mechanical bearings. Flywheels with such bearings could be used for diurnal storage. Recent collaborative efforts have focused on scaling up the bearing for practical flywheel energy storage at utility sites. Superconductive Components, Inc. (Columbus, Ohio), has licensed two Argonne superconductor materials tech-nologies to manufacture levitators, which it markets worldwide for flywheel and other applications.
• Secondary Battery Energy Storage
Contributed to every battery system that has been developed over the past several decades, from very high peak power and specific energy lithium/disulfide for stationary energy storage to nickel/metal hydride and lithium-ion for consumer electronics:
 • Invented lithium/disulfide battery.
 • Improved power of sodium/nickel chloride battery.
 • Developed new electrode materials for lithium-polymer battery.
 • Increased performance of lithium-ion battery.

• Ultracapacitors and High-Power Energy
Concentrate on higher-risk breakthrough capacitor concepts with the expectation of improving their performance and safety by several orders of magnitude:
 • Developed high energy-to-power galvanic stack.
 • Fabricated high dielectric constant (800) perovskite (PZT, BST) thin films by metal organic chemical vapor deposition.
 • Studying solid/solution interfacial structure of ultracapacitor materials with in situ synchrotron x-rays and transient electrochemical techniques.

• Flywheel Energy Storage
Design and develop high-efficiency flywheel energy-storage devices for industrial sponsors; such systems can achieve 90% diurnal efficiency with less than 2% per day idle losses. Test hardware components and complete flywheel energy systems:
 • Designed composite rotor systems using E-glass/epoxy and carbon/epoxy composites.
 • Developed superconducting bearings that set a world record for lowest rotational losses.
 • Conduct research on active magnetic and mechanical bearings.
 • Developed motor/generators with 99% conversion efficiency and 0.1% per day idle losses.
 • Demonstrated power electronics for efficient motor input and power extraction from flywheels.
 • Developed containment vessels capable of up to 20 kWh of energy containment.

• Superconducting Magnet Energy Storage
Develop and test components for superconducting magnetic energy storage devices (both low- and high-critical-temperature devices):
 • Among world leaders in ongoing development of high-temperature superconductors (HTS).
 • Developed some of the largest high-field superconducting magnets in the world.
 • Demonstrated (first in the world) that use of HTS current leads provides higher efficiency.
 • Designed magnetic cryostats with some of lowest losses in the world.
 • Among world leaders in measurement and numerical analysis of magnetic fields.
 • Collaborators with industry in the development of HTS composite conductor for energy technology applications.

• Contacts
For technical information, contact K. Michael Myles, Argonne National Laboratory, Bldg. 205, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois 60439; phone: 630/252-4329; fax: 630/252-5528; e-mail:

For information on working with Argonne, contact Paul Eichamer, Industrial Technology Development Center, Argonne National Laboratory, Bldg. 201, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Illinois 60439; phone: 800/627-2596; fax: 630/252-5230.

June 1998

Argonne National Laboratory is operated by The University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy under contract No. W-31-109-Eng-38.