07/16/2021

Research For New Battery Technology Is Gaining Steam

34:36 minutes

dozens of rows of AA batteries on a yellow background
Credit: Shutterstock

As countries around the world set their goals for decarbonizing their economies, it’s becoming clear that batteries may play a pivotal role in smoothing out the peaks and valleys of solar and wind power productions, as well as driving a shift to electric vehicles, and providing power for other parts of our lives.

Lithium-ion batteries are now the standard. They run electric cars and power your laptop and cell phone. But they have major drawbacks, like overheating and their high costs. The supply chain and environmental impact of lithium-ion power cells also raise concerns: mining the materials—like lithium, cobalt, and other metals—requires polluting, water-intensive processes. While many deposits are only found in foreign locations, some U.S. companies are now looking to mine domestically, concerning environmental advocates.

 The search for a better battery is on, and promising developments include new chemistries for efficiently storing energy, and smarter ways to plug them into the grid. This week, Ira talks to IEEE Spectrum senior editor Jean Kumagai, and Argonne National Laboratory’s Venkat Srinivasan about the promises, the roadblocks, and what to watch for in future battery technology.


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Segment Guests

Jean Kumagai

Jean Kumagai is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum in New York, New York.

Venkat Srinivasan

Venkat Srinivasan is director of the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois.

Segment Transcript

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Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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