A funding of $37m has been announced by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (APRA-E) for 16 new projects to transform energy storage and conversion.

The funding forms part of a new ARPA-E program, Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids (IONICS).

The program intends to create high performance components with solid ion conductors, which can move freely and store energy.

It will also work on finding new ways and processes to integrate these parts into devices for commercial release.

The projects will focus mainly on three categories of energy storage including transportation batteries, grid-level storage and fuel cells.

ARPA-E director Ellen Williams said: “While battery technologies have improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years, there remain some imposing physical and chemical barriers that have stifled further innovation.

“Solid ion conductors made of affordable, easily produced materials could replace today’s mostly liquid electrolytes and expensive fuel cell parts, helping create a next generation of batteries and fuel cells that are low-cost, durable, and more efficient.”

Batteries and fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert chemical energy into electricity and vice versa. IONICS projects will work towards improving energy storage options by employing solid ion conductors.

These solid ion conductors have shown the potential to outdo their traditional liquid counterparts including liquid electrolytes and expensive fuel cell liquids.

But, at present solid ions are facing the issue of low ion conductivity and expensive processing, which the IONICS projects will be working on.

The work of the projects will include the use of new materials and processes that can achieve high energy capacity or density in a battery while preventing short circuits and battery degradation.