MSE Colloquium: Erik Spoerke, Materials Chemistry in Large-Scale Energy Storage: A Key to Unlocking our “Potential” Energy Future
Sandia National Laboratories
Materials Chemistry in Large-Scale Energy Storage: A Key to Unlocking our “Potential” Energy Future
The way we generate, store, and utilize electrical energy evolving at a rate that exceeds our current technological capabilities
There is a clear and present need for new and improved technologies to make this evolution possible, and energy storage is among the key pieces of this emerging technological landscape. Materials lie at the heart of nearly all energy storage technologies, serving as active, passive, and enabling elements of these, often complex, systems. In this seminar I will discuss the roles of materials chemistry on electrochemical systems, such as batteries, as well as chemical, thermal, and mechanical storage. I will further highlight a specific example of how our team at Sandia has applied materials science to develop and advance a potentially revolutionary new class of “low temperature” molten sodium batteries. Our approach integrates metallic, ceramic, polymeric, and ionic materials to enable functions at multiple length scales and across diverse interfaces. The resulting batteries have shown unprecedented, high voltage performance at commercially attractive temperatures just above the melting temperature of sodium. Utilizing science to drive materials development, with a strong focus on practical application, we aim to realize the promise of not only low temperature molten sodium batteries, but also other large-scale, long-duration energy storage technologies so important for our emerging energy future.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-mission laboratory managed and operated by National Technology & Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA0003525.
Erik D. Spoerke, Ph.D. (Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, 2003) is the Energy Storage Materials Thrust Lead in Sandia National Laboratories’ Grid Energy Storage Program and a Principal R&D Materials Scientist in the Electronic, Optical, and Nano Materials Department at Sandia. He is a Research Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of New Mexico and holds a courtesy appointment as an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of North Texas. Erik’s widely published and patented research efforts span a diverse materials portfolio, with an emphasis on combining elements of chemistry, materials science and biology to explore and develop functional materials ranging from novel electrochemical materials to synthetic biological analogs and functional supramolecular thin films. He has a passion for energy-related related research, including a wide range of battery-based and other energy storage technologies, particularly for grid-scale and long-duration applications. He currently serves on the DOE Energy Storage Grand Challenge National Laboratory Leadership Team, working to support the advance of reliable and sustainable domestic energy storage, and he is active in several other NM-based and national efforts to drive sustainable, clean energy initiatives.