Energy storage for the future

Aerogel-timeline (Download Image)

Carbon and graphene aerogel timeline for energy storage.

The need for efficient and sustainable energy storage systems is becoming increasingly crucial as the world transitions toward renewable energy sources. However, traditional energy storage systems have limitations, such as high costs, limited durability, and low efficiency. Therefore, new and innovative materials and technologies, such as aerogels (highly porous networks of nanoparticles that have long been prized for their exceptionally high surface area) and additive manufacturing, are being developed to address these challenges and offer more efficient and effective energy solutions.

A recent perspective article published by by LLNL's Swetha Chandrasekaran and Marcus Worsley and collaborators at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) explores the potential for aerogel and additive manufacturing technologies to shape the next-generation energy storage. The article discusses the current state of the art in the development of conductive aerogels, the use of a variety of additive manufacturing (AM) techniques to fabricate them, and their potential to create more efficient, durable, and sustainable energy storage and conversion systems, such as batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells. It also highlights the challenges that need to be addressed and the opportunities for further research and development in this exciting field, with an emphasis on the integration of modeling/computational and design studies with AM techniques to achieve desired target metrics for these energy storage systems.

Overall, the past seven years have seen rapid advancements in the field of AM, demonstrating how 3D-printed aerogels can enhance the performance of batteries and supercapacitors as energy storage devices. Therefore, the continued development of new materials, printing methods, modeling, and optimization integration to alter the design and architecture of the components, and the use of aerogels in various applications, including fuel cells and redox flow batteries, are vital for the future.

[S. Chandrasekaran, D. Lin, Y. Li, M.A. Worsley, Aerogels, additive manufacturing, and energy storage, Joule (2023), DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2023.03.021.]

Physical and Life Sciences Communications Team