The nation’s commitment to grid modernization continues to pick up speed, with significant advancements being made in East Tennessee. On the heels of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement of a commitment to $200 million for more than 80 projects to modernize America’s grid, TAEBC Charter member, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) introduced earlier in February a new approach to batteries that shows significant promise for grid usage.

Credit: ORNL

Credit: ORNL

ORNL’s battery approach uses inexpensive and plentiful aluminum and lithium – containing cathodes to increase capacity, cycling performance, and safety. According to ORNL’s release, the hybrid battery uses aluminum as the anode – a negative electrode – instead of lithium or graphite. It also uses a new cell design that significantly reduces the problem of corrosion caused by the strong acidic nature of electrodes.

All of this research work, published in the journal Chemical Communications, results in a battery that potentially offers alternative energy storage devices for multiple applications at a lower cost.

That’s good news for the nation’s progress toward grid modernization. ORNL is expected to be involved in more than 25 of DOE’s 80 funded grid projects, with the scope of work to include transformer research, analysis, and testing.

Grid modernization efforts explore the concept of microgrids, a localized group of electricity sources and loads that can disconnect and function on their own, separate from a traditional centralized grid.

Microgrids continue to be researched and investigated in Tennessee, both for their ability to function autonomously and for their capacity to operate as economic conditions warrant. Modernizing the nation’s grid remains a high priority for DOE with DC stating that the “grid is essential to reducing carbon emissions, creating safeguards against attacks on infrastructure, and keeping the lights on.”

DOE says increased funding is being made available to further strengthen ongoing efforts to improve electrical infrastructure in order to respond to the nation’s energy needs for decades to come.

As progress continues to be announced about grid modernization efforts, TAEBC will keep members updated on the latest from ORNL and DOE.