Betting Big on Battery Breakthroughs to Reduce Cost

Battery technology is due for an upgrade, and one of the leading teams set on that task is the group of scientists at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago.

In a recent article published on, three Argonne researchers described what they believe the future of batteries could look like.

One way or another, said Jeffery Chamberlain, deputy director of development and demonstration for the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research at Argonne, power-storage options are bound to get better: “batteries will be smaller, faster-charging, last longer, and be less expensive,” the article quoted him as saying. “And even be safer.”

The exact mechanism by which that’s likely to happen is less clear, agreed the scientists.

Today, lithium-ion batteries dominate the rechargeable-battery market, and even that familiar technology “could be two to three times better than it is today,” said Chamberlain.

Departing from lithium-ion, however, could allow for more tantalizing battery possibilities. Lithium-air batteries, which would absorb oxygen from the air for the charging process, could store 5 to 10 times the energy of lithium-ion. Storing the battery charge in a liquid is also a possibility, explained Argonne chemist Christopher Johnson in the article; a battery of this type would charge by pumping the liquid back and forth.

Johnson suggested that the best option of all might be a battery that utilizes the most desirable aspects of these innovative technologies: “You’re using the best of both—you’re storing the charge on the liquid molecules, but it’s reacting with oxygen,” he said.

To see the entire CBS article and video clip, click here

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