The levelized cost of electric power generated from renewable wind and solar resources have fallen, continuously over the last decade. This trend is fueling optimism about humanity’s ability to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the electric power generation and transportation sectors—without the large government subsides predicted as recently as a decade ago. It is known that the intermittency and seasonal variability of the electric power supply from wind and solar sources pose significant barriers to broad-based acceptance of clean electric power.
Low-cost options for storing large quantities of renewable electric power would lower/eliminate these barriers and meet an unmet need in both the power generation and transportation sectors. Rechargeable electrochemical cells based on metallic anodes, including lithium, zinc, and aluminum, offer the potential for transformative advances in cost-effective storage of electrical energy. Such cells are under active development worldwide because they provide a path towards battery systems capable of meeting the performance and long-term storage requirments for truly dispatchable electric power generation from renewables. Recharge of any metal anode requires reversible electrodeposition/crystallization of metals; a process that is fundamentally unstable.
This talk considers the stability limits for metal electrodeposition processes in liquid and semisolid structured electrolytes and, on that basis, proposes electrode and anode/electrolyte interphase design principles for enabling highly reversible storage solutions. The talk will also explore contemporary efforts to create minimal electrolytes and electrochemical interphases based on these principles and will discuss their effectivenss in enabling cost-effective energy storage systems with high levels of reversibility.