Advanced energy storage technology

The race is on to find new ways to generate, store, and manage energy more efficiently. The key to all advanced energy systems is the ability to store energy generated at various times, from various fuel sources, for immediate use when it is needed. That’s one of the challenges we’re working on at MSU. We want to work with you to make these new energy storage technologies a marketplace reality. In addition to enhancing economic competitiveness, such efforts will help speed the nation’s transition from petroleum-based energy to alternative energies with lower carbon footprints. Solar power, wind energy, and fuel cell development will all benefit from enhanced energy storage options.

Energy storage research priorities at MSU

Currently, MSU researchers are focused on three key areas of energy storage technology:

Lightweight batteries -- that is, those that have a significantly better power-toweight ratio than conventional batteries—using technologies such as:

  • sodium sulphur (150 W/kg)
  • nickel metal hydride (250–1000 W/kg)
  • lithium ion (up to 1700 W/kg);

Low-cost, low-voltage, aqueous solvent/sodium ion batteries, which hold the promise for bulk storage of electrical energy from renewable sources due to long lifetimes, the avoidance of organic electrolytic solvents, and the use of a common and inexpensive metal.

Supercapacitors, which store 1,000 to 10,000 W/kg of energy by physically separating positive and negative charges—unlike batteries, which store energy chemically. Where conventional capacitors stored millifarads to picofarads of charge, advanced supercapacitors have the potential to store farads—one thousand to one trillion times more.

These research areas, actively pursued at MSU and in public-private collaborations, collectively hold great promise for multiple economic sectors, including the automotive, bulk transport, defense, electronics, and power generation industries.

Learn more about MSU faculty members' specific research projects.