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May 21, 2024 | Tom Ballard

ORNL researchers are developing battery technologies to fight climate change

One way is by expanding the use of renewable energy; the other involves capturing airborne carbon dioxide.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are developing battery technologies to fight climate change in two ways: by expanding the use of renewable energy and by capturing airborne carbon dioxide.

This type of battery stores the renewable energy generated by solar panels or wind turbines. Utilizing this energy when wind and sunlight are unavailable requires an electrochemical reaction that, in ORNL’s new battery formulation, captures carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and converts it to value-added products.

ORNL researchers recently created and tested two different formulations for batteries that convert carbon dioxide gas, or CO2, into a solid form that has the potential to be used in other products.

One of these new battery types maintained its capacity for 600 hours of use and could store up to 10 hours of electricity. Researchers also identified, studied and overcame the primary challenge, a deactivation caused by chemical buildup, that had been an obstacle for the other battery formulation.

“The Transformation Energy Science and Technology (TEST) initiative at ORNL is precisely the kind of effort needed to address climate change. We are excited that ORNL is investing in innovative ideas and approaches that can transform the way we think about storing energy beyond lithium-ion batteries and other conventional electrochemical energy storage systems,” said Ilias Belharouak, an ORNL Corporate Fellow and TEST Initiative Director. “What a fantastic scenario: Using free electrons to store CO2 and converting it to revenue-generating products is a concept I never would have imagined 10 years back, but this is just a start.”

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