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$50M Battery500 consortium targeting battery pack with specific energy of 500 Wh/kg

Announced last week as one of the Obama Administration’s new initiatives to advance electric vehicle adoption (earlier post), the Battery500 consortium, led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), aims to build a battery pack with a specific energy of 500 watt-hours per kilogram, compared to the 170-200 watt-hours per kilogram in today’s typical EV battery.

The team in this 5-year project hopes to reach these goals by focusing on lithium-metal batteries, which use lithium instead of graphite for the battery’s anode. The team will pair lithium with two different materials for the cathode. While studying these materials, the consortium will work to prevent unwanted side reactions in the whole battery that weaken a battery’s performance.

A key focus of the consortium is to ensure the technological solutions it develops meet the needs of automotive and battery manufacturers. Consortium members will work to ensure significant innovations can be quickly and seamlessly implemented by industry throughout the project.

The Battery500 consortium will receive up to $10 million a year over five years from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The multi-disciplinary consortium includes leaders from DOE national labs, universities and industry, all of which are working together to make smaller, lighter and less expensive batteries that can be adopted by manufacturers.

Beyond PNNL, the consortium includes the following partners:

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Idaho National Laboratory
  • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Binghamton University (State University of New York)
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Washington
  • IBM (advisory board member)

Recognizing diversity in experience and opinions often results in better solutions, the consortium will also welcome ideas from others. The team will set aside 20% of its overall budget for “seedling projects,” or work based on proposals from throughout the battery research community.

Though the immediate goal is to make effective, affordable batteries for EVs, consortium director and PNNL materials scientist Jun Liu expects the consortium’s work could also advance stationary grid energy storage.

Battery500 is also expected to take advantage of DOE facilities, including the fabrication equipment at PNNL’s Advanced Battery Facility and materials characterization instruments at EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE Office of Science User Facility on PNNL’s campus. PNNL’s lead role in the consortium builds on its decades of leadership in materials science, chemistry, transportation and power grid modernization.



Woohoo! Lithium metal vs lithium air. The battle is on.


This could be another promised 5-5-5 battery, but another 5 years later.

A lower cost, 500+ wh/Kg battery is the unit required for all weather extended range vehicles. Will this be it by 2021/2022?

Juan Valdez

I'm long on better batteries! Tesla, this project, BMW and others are pouring hundreds of millions into better batteries so I have to believe we'll be seeing 300 to 500 mile cars over the next 10 years. That will certainly be enough to drive down the battery costs to enable mass conversion of ICE to fully electric cars.


I'd have serious safety concerns with a Lithium metal anode. Lithium is an extremely volatile material. I would definitely not enjoy a ride on a potential bomb.
Why not make use of a Magnesium metal anode? Magnesium is relatively safe and has two valenz-electrons instead of only one in Lithium. Hence, the energy density of magnesium is double that of lithium and is inherently safer.
Also, Magnesium is cheaper than Lithium and far more abundant.


Why not a hydrogen-air battery?
As a gas, it automatically flows to the anode. The dihydrogen-oxide has very low toxicity and can be discharged on the street. The energy-content is 38000 Wh/kg.


Not only issue waisting 50% on the way.

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