A recent episode of A Day in the Half Life, a podcast produced by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), focuses on energy storage: What is it, why do we need it, and what are the latest advances? Host Aliyah Kovner talks with Noël Bakhtian, director of Berkeley Lab’s Energy Storage Center, and Mike Gerhardt, research scientist at SINTEF, a research organization based in Norway.

Bakhtian said that the future of energy storage involves thinking not only about an evolving electric grid that incorporates more variable renewable energy, but also electrified mobility options like electric cars, flexible energy use in buildings, high-energy industries like manufacturing, and building out our community resilience.

Early revolutionary research in the 1950s at Berkeley Lab paved the way for the development of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are now the predominant energy storage type being deployed, Bakhtian noted. Lithium-ion batteries are good for shorter term storage, but “we have a lot of researchers now across the national labs and all over the country thinking about, what’s the right mix of short-duration versus long-duration energy storage for an ideal future grid, given all the renewables we want to add to the grid.” The recently announced U.S. Department of Energy Long Duration Storage Earthshot focuses on this issue.

But besides conventional lithium-ion, new battery chemistries are needed—not only to make energy storage more powerful, safe, and affordable, but to ensure sustainability and security, given that some battery ingredients, such as nickel and cobalt, are mined outside the United States.

“This is about national security, at the end of the day, when you’re talking about supply chains,” Bakhtian said. “This is about economic security, jobs, and trying to build batteries here in the U.S.” She pointed to potential solutions like Berkeley Lab’s DRX technology, which allows battery components to be made without nickel or cobalt.

Listen to the whole conversation on Episode 5 of A Day in the Half Life: “Energy Storage: Save your electrons for a rainy day.”

Berkeley Lab is hosting the National Energy Storage Summit on March 8 and 9, 2022. This virtual public summit will bring together national and regional thought leaders across industry, government, communities, and the research enterprise to catalyze solutions and partnerships around specific challenges to America’s energy storage future.

Learn more and register for the summit: national-energystorage-summit.lbl.gov