DOE Energy Innovation Hubs

DOE Energy Innovation Hubs Web Site

Two DOE Energy Innovation Hubs are managed through the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program of the Office of Science (SC). The Hubs focus on collaborative research to overcome the key scientific barriers for major energy challenges. The research activities are centered on fundamental science whose impact is demonstrated by research prototypes of complete energy systems, a key milestone for implementation of scientific innovation in transformative energy technologies. The two Hubs funded and managed by SC/BES bring together teams of experts from multiple disciplines to focus on two grand challenges in energy: (1) Fuels from Sunlight, a Hub established in 2010 and (2) Batteries and Energy Storage, a Hub established in 2013.

The Fuels from Sunlight Hub is the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), which was established in 2010 and renewed in 2015 for five years through peer-review processes. JCAP is led by the California Institute of Technology in major partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; the University of California, Irvine; and the University of California, San Diego are additional partners. The mission of JCAP is to create the scientific foundation for a scalable technology that converts carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into a range of commercially useful fuels. JCAP also collaborates to incorporate research results from many individual laboratories to accelerate the pace of technological development toward the creation of a direct solar fuels industry. Basic research has provided enormous advances in our understanding of the subtle and complex chemistry behind the biological conversion of sunlight into fuels during natural photosynthesis. A grand challenge for energy science is to generate fuels directly from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water in a manner similar to a natural photosynthetic system, often termed artificial photosynthesis. The Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub is designed to attack this grand challenge through its fundamental research and prototype solar fuels generators that produce fuel through artificial photosynthesis approaches.

In the initial award (2010-2015), JCAP combined scientific and engineering approaches to discover new mechanisms and materials for light-driven chemistry and produced complete hydrogen-generating solar fuels prototypes that met the requirements of its original five-year goal. Significant accomplishments included discovery of new ways to protect light-absorbing semiconductors from corrosion; creation of innovative high throughput capabilities for synthesis, characterization, and data analysis of light absorbers and electrocatalysts; discovery of new earth-abundant catalysts with performance comparable to those based on rare-earth metals; and implementation of fully integrated test-beds to evaluate new components and assemblies for solar fuels generators.

During its second term (2015-2020), JCAP focuses on new mechanisms, materials, and prototype concepts for artificial photosynthetic systems that produce carbon-based fuels by consuming CO2. High throughput experimentation and rapid characterization tools are being further advanced and led to the development of an extensive Materials Experiment and Analysis Database (MEAD) and associated data science tools that are available to the scientific community. More information on JCAP tools and science advances is available at the links below.

JCAP Web Site | Selected JCAP Tools | Selected JCAP Science Advances

The Batteries and Energy Storage Hub is the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), which was established in FY 2013 and renewed in FY 2018 for five years through peer-review processes. JCESR brings together world leading battery researchers to focus on a common objective to overcome fundamental scientific challenges to enable transformational energy storage systems beyond today’s lithium-ion batteries. JCESR is led by Argonne National Laboratory in collaboration with four other national laboratories, eleven universities, the Army Research Laboratory, and industry. Joining Argonne on the JCESR team are Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Participating universities include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Kentucky, University of Waterloo, Notre Dame, Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan. The Army Research Laboratory and United Technologies are also research partners.

In the initial five-year award (2013-2018), JCESR created a library of fundamental scientific knowledge including: demonstration of a new class of membranes for anode protection and flow batteries; elucidation of the characteristics required for multi-valent intercalation electrodes; understanding the chemical and physical processes that must be controlled in lithium-sulfur batteries to greatly improve cycle life; and computational screening of over 16,000 potential electrolyte compounds using the Electrolyte Genome protocols.

In the 2018 renewal, JCESR extended its scientific emphasis to understanding and identifying transformational materials that can be mixed and matched to build a diversity of next-generation batteries purpose-designed to specific applications. To achieve these objectives JCESR is organized around five research Thrusts: Liquid Solvation Science, Solid Solvation Science, Flowable Redoxmer Science, Charge Transfer at Dynamic Interfaces, and Science of Material Complexity. As an integrator for the scientific and engineering communities pursuing next-generation energy storage, JCESR is coordinating its efforts with the DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers and other programs in the DOE technology offices and in ARPA-E.

JCESR Website