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Global energy production, storage and transport are both essential and environmentally impactful. New energy sources, managing and capturing the biproducts of energy expenditure, and repurposing of carbon dioxide are issues of national and global importance. Researchers at LLNL continue to broadly invent novel technologies that intersect at materials, mechanical, electrical, biological and chemical interfaces. Inventions in this portfolio range from bioreactors, to materials, to batteries, motors and new systems.

Portfolio News and Multimedia

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Electrochaea signs CRADA with LLNL and SoCalGas

LLNL partners with Electrochaea and SoCalGas to develop a single-stage electro-bioreactor to increase energy security and combat climate change.  

The collaborators previously secured a major grant through the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF).  Read all about it here: Lab garners five technology commercialization grants!

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Hydrogen storage demonstrated for semi trucks

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Verne, a San Francisco-based startup, have demonstrated a cryo-compressed hydrogen storage system of suitable scale for heavy-duty vehicles.  This is the first time cryo-compressed hydrogen storage has been demonstrated at a scale large enough to be useful for semi trucks, a milestone in high-density hydrogen storage.

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LLNL-led team receives DOE Award to establish inertial fusion energy hub

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a four-year, $16 million project to a multi-institutional team led by LLNL to accelerate inertial fusion energy (IFE) science and technology. The Science and Technology Accelerated Research for Fusion Innovation and Reactor Engineering (STARFIRE) Hub consists of members from seven universities, four U.S. national labs, one international lab, three commercial entities, one philanthropic organization and three private IFE companies.  

In addition to researchers from LLNL, other participants include General Atomics; UC San Diego; UC Berkeley; UCLA; University of Rochester; MIT; University of Oklahoma; Texas A&M University; Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology; TRUMPF Inc.; Leonardo Electronics US Inc.; the Livermore Lab Foundation; SLAC; ORNL; SRNL; Xcimer Energy; Focused Energy Inc.; and Longview Fusion Energy Systems.

Energy and Environment Technologies

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NIF Lasers

This invention configures multiple spherical substrate targets to roll independently of one another.  The spheres’ rolling motion is deliberately randomized to promote uniform coating while eliminating the interaction (rubbing, sliding) of adjacent spheres that is present in conventional sphere coating designs. The devices’ novel structure features enable the collimation of depositing species…

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Powder in Chemical Watch Glass

LLNL researchers have developed a Li-Sn-Zn ternary alloy and its method of production.  Instead of traditional alloying techniques, the alloy was synthesized using mechanical alloying (high energy ball milling).  With high purity elemental powders of lithium, tin and zinc, LLNL researchers were able to prepare Li60Sn20Zn20 as well as Li70Sn20Zn10 nanopowders.

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A gas separation membrane containing the optimized molten hydroxide solution held in a porous material selectively turns CO2 into carbonates, which are transported across the membrane by diffusion. Water—as steam—on the sweep (right) side is critical for recovering the captured carbon for storage by converting the carbonate back into CO2.

Facing these challenges, LLNL researchers focused on ceramic material as it is inherently inert and developed a host of inventions where porous ceramic membranes are prepared using a sacrificial polymer template. By controlling polymer/ceramic nanoparticle ratio and processing conditions, the pore morphology of the ceramic itself is controlled and optimized for the various applications. The…

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Emissions Stock Image

The heart of this LLNL invention lies in combining existing concepts for absorber intercooling and packing geometry into a novel configuration that yields the benefits of in-line intercooling at reduced capital cost and equipment size. The technology utilizes LLNL-developed Triply Periodic Minimal Surface (TPMS) structures (US Patent No. 11,389,765) that are produced using additive…

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SEM image showing the morphology of a 3D printed porous carbon substrate with well distributed cobalt particles in cross section

LLNL researchers have developed novel catalytic electrodes for energy storage applications from inexpensive starting materials.  The LLNL team are using a group of 3D printing inks that contain precursors of earth-abundant catalysts (e.g. Ni, Co and Fe compounds); the catalytic materials are imbedded into the ink matrix.  To carefully control the properties such as surface area and those…

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Images and topology scans of (top row) cold sprayed LLZO (lithium lanthanum zirconium tantalum oxide) and (bottom row) cold sprayed NMC (lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide) on top of LLZTO

LLNL has co-developed a number of technologies thatuse cold spray deposition that enable new designs for functional materials with low waste.

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Skin-layered Microporous Separators for Li-Ion Batteries

LLNL’s novel approach is to use separators based on a bilayer structure that consists of a self-formed skin layer on a microporous membrane.  The highly porous membrane is made of 1,6-hexanediol diacrylate (HDDA), which provides high Li ion conductivity.  The skin layer is relatively dense that allows for easy Li-ion transport but can effectively block undesired constituents such as…

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LLNL energy grid protection device

The approach is to leverage the fact that a momentary “load” equal to the power transmission line impedance, (Z0), during the transient can suppress its propagation.  Z(0) is typically a fixed impedance of several hundred ohms based on the geometry of most single wire transmission lines.

So, an isolated self-powered opticondistor (OTV) system may provide an ultrafast method of…

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JFET Device Structure

LLNL’s novel approach is to use diamond substrates with the desired donor (nitrogen) and acceptor (boron) impurities.   In order to optically activate these deep impurities, the invention requires at least one externally or internally integrated light source.  The initial exposure to light can set up the desired conduction current, after which the light source could be turned off.  Even with…

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Simulation of ion selectivity related to pore size in flow through electrode.

LLNL researchers have developed a novel technique of flow-through electrode capacitive deioinization (FTE-CDI) which can be tailored for selective ion removal from water. It uses porous carbon aerogel materials as capacitive deionization (CDI) electrodes to selectively remove scale forming divalent ions (e.g., magnesium, calcium) from "hard" waters. Through precise control of electrode…

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Schematic outlining how diamond anvils are used for synthesis of novel compounds using only applied pressure

LLNL inventors have devised a solely pressure-based method for producing Li3P and Na3P using a diamond anvil cell at room temperature. By applying relatively low pressure (<1GPa) to elemental mixtures of lithium / phosphorous and sodium / phosphorous and LLNL researchers were able to synthesize lithium- and sodium-rich phosphorous compounds (Li3P and Na3P), respectively. 

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Boss Circuit Breaker

LLNL’s novel approach to enable MVDC power systems to operate safely is to develop a wideband gap bulk optical semiconductor switch (WBG BOSS) circuit breaker.  For higher power, efficiency and temperature operation, vanadium-doped silicon carbide (V-doped SiC) appears to be the most promising basis for WBG BOSS circuit breaker (other dopants like aluminum, boron and nitrogen may further…

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Sub-device integrated with Main device of the flow battery (A) and a cross-section of the sub-device (B)

LLNL researchers has developed an approach to mitigate HER on the ‘plating’ electrode, which uses a sub-device as a rebalancing cell to restore electrolyte properties, including pH, conductivity, and capacity across the main device of the flow battery.  This sub-device, which may need to be powered externally, has three major physical components: (1) a cathode electrode, (2) an anode electrode…

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Graphite

LLNL’s innovation offers an alternate synthetic route to graphite at lower cost using a molten salt mixture of CaCl2-CaCO3-CaO.  The synthetic production of graphite and other high-value carbon materials is accomplished in molten salt media via electrochemical reduction and transformation of the carbon from the carbonate ion. The broad electrochemical window of molten salts enables the…

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Electrical grid

LLNL has developed a novel methodology for using commercially available automated sensors and actuators which can be deployed at scale in large appliances and plug-in EVs to provide as needed electric grid stabilization capabilities. The approach comprises of a population of voltage relays with a range of setpoints that would gradually reduce load as voltage falls. More severe voltage…

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Electrodeposition of Zn onto 3D printed copper nanowire (CuNW)

Improving the active material of the Zn anode is critical to improving the practicality of Zn-MnO2 battery technology. LLNL researchers have developed a new category of 3D structured Zn anode using a direct-ink writing (DIW) printing process to create innovative hierarchical architectures.  The DIW ink, which is a gel-based mixture composed of zinc metal powder and organic binders, is extruded…

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An example of interdigitated beam-based lattice design

The approach developed by LLNL researchers is to use computer-aided design and advanced manufacturing methods to fabricate two or more continuous electrode structures intertwining in 3D space.  This configuration provides improved control electric field uniformity and the ability to carry out multiple electrochemical reactions.  This invention utilizes design tools to create architected…

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Livermore researchers support efforts to limit the need for rare-earth elements in U.S. clean-energy technologies.

CMI—a DOE Energy Innovation Hub—is a public/private partnership led by the Ames Laboratory that brings together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories (including LLNL), and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions to make better use of materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies as well as develop resilient and secure…

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Compared with conventional slurry-based film electrode manufacturing methods, dry laser powder bed fusion is promising in generating structured electrodes for high power, low cost lithium ion batteries

To address many of the aforementioned challenges of manufacturing LIBs and SSBs, LLNL researchers have developed a number of inventions that offer proposed solutions for their components:

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One embodiment of a solid-state lithium-air battery based on gyroid foams.

LLNL researchers have developed a new 3D printable lithium-air battery that uses a novel thin solid state ceramic electrolyte.   LLNL’s invention overcomes the combined challenges of low power density and low cycle life in previously designed lithium-air batteries by using solid state electrolytes to achieve stability and multiscale structuring of the electrolyte to achieve low interfacial…

IPO logo over a face profile with interconnected lines

This technology can replace combustion heat with renewable energy in the form of electricity from variable renewable energy (VRE), such as photovoltaic (PV) solar and clean hydrogen (H2). Granular media functions as a heat-storage medium that enables renewable energy to be time-shifted from when it is available to when it is needed by an industrial process. The heated granular media, as the…

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Projection Microstereolithographic Additively Manufactured Anion Exchange Membrane

The novel LLNL approach is to use projection microstereolithography (LAPµSL), starting with a photocurable methacrylate resin formulation consisting of a combination of a photoinitiator, photoabsorber, inhibitor, solvents, and other additives.  Prior to use, the resin is pretreated to control viscosity for easier handling.  The resin is fed to a LAPµSL printer which employs a near UV light…

IPO logo over a face profile with interconnected lines

This technology is specifically focused on optimizing the production of heat with renewable energy and cleaner ways of using fossil fuels. The technology can be used to generate carbon neutral or carbon-negative heat for the following industrial applications (1) clean hydrogen (H2) production by steam methane reforming (SMR) and water-gas shift and (2) fractional distillation of crude oil. The…

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SEM image showing internal porosity of DIW printed parts

The inventors have developed a 3% Yttria partially-stabilized Zirconia (3YZ) ceramic ink that produces parts with both nano and microporosity and is compatible with two AM techniques: DIW and projection microstereolithography (PμSL). The 3YZ nano-porous ceramic printed parts had engineered macro cavities measuring several millimeters in length, wall thicknesses ranging from 200 to 540 μm, and…

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Conceptual schematic of LLNL hybrid-energy approach, showing potential energy sources

Earth Battery Energy Storage replaces air-combustion with oxy-combustion, which produces just CO2 and steam, which are easy to separate, thus virtually eliminating more expensive CO2/N2 separation costs. Oxygen from air is produced when the cost of electricity is low. Similarly, all the combustion is done when the cost of electricity is low, and the CO2…

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Microcapsules offer high surface area and a superior delivery system.

This invention describes a multiple nozzle microfluidic unit that allows simultaneous generation streams of multiple layered coaxial liquid jets. Liquids are pumped into the device at a combined flow rate from 100 mL/hr to 10 L/hr. Droplets are created with diameters in the range of 1 µm to 5 mm and can be created with 1-2 shell layers encapsulating fluid. Droplets created from the system can…

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Plasma wind
CRETIN is a 1D, 2D, and 3D non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE) atomic kinetics/radiation transport code which follows the time evolution of atomic populations and photon distributions as radiation interacts with a plasma consisting of an arbitrary mix of elements. It can provide detailed spectra for comparing with experimental diagnostics.
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Graphic of NMR

There are prominent technical challenges arising from spinning a battery on the order of kilohertz as required by magic angle spinning in order to obtain spectral resolution that are addressed and enable operando solid-state NMR. The operando NMR measurement allows for continuous monitoring of the battery components and of potential metastable states that may exist during…

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bacteria-based_synthetic_u_detection_pathway

Using native bacterial regulatory systems, LLNL researchers have developed whole-cell biosensors that can be used in aqueous samples for sensitive and selective in situ detection of the uranyl oxycation (UO22+), the most toxic and stable form of U in oxygenated environments. Specifically, two functionally independent, native U-responsive regulatory systems, UzcRS and UrpRS, were integrated…

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geothermal steam exhaust

LLNL has a patented process to produce colloidal silica directly from geothermal fluids. Livermore’s process uses membranes to produce a mono-dispense slurry of colloidal silica particles for which there are several applications. LLNL has demonstrated that colloidal silica solutions that result from extraction of silica from geothermal fluids undergo a transition to a solid gel over a range of…

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nuclear power plant

Livermore Laboratory researchers have developed a methodology for degradation of TBP using an inexpensive, readily available, and environmentally friendly salt, potassium iodide (KI), in a similarly inexpensive, abundant, and green solvent dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) to efficiently convert TBP to the potassium salts of dibutylphosphate (DBP) and monobutylphosphate (MBP) The reaction is carried…

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Electromechanical battery

The design calculations that have been performed in exploring the potentialities of LLNL's new approaches to flywheel energy storage have been built on existing and past LLNL flywheel programs, including a program aimed at flywheel systems for the bulk storage of electricity at utility scale. To achieve the requirements of such systems, as mentioned above, LLNL has developed some key new…

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3D printed electrodes

Nanomaterials that are emerging out of cutting edge nanotechnology research are a key component for an energy revolution. Carbon-based nanomaterials are ushering in the "new carbon age" with carbon nanotubes, nanoporous carbons, and graphene nanosheets that will prove necessary to provide sustainable energy applications that lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.

Carbon aerogels (CAs)…

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Transformer

An invention at LLNL uses a mixture of solid and liquid dielectric media. This combination has properties that are an improvement over either separately. The solid phase, in the form of small pellets, inhibits fluid motion, which reduces leakage currents, while the liquid phase (dielectric oil) provides self-repair capabilities. Also, since the media is removable, the high voltage equipment…

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ceramic_filter

A ceramic HEPA filter designed to meet commercial and DOE requirements, as well as to minimize upgrade installation logistics for use in existing facilities. Current key performance requirements are described in DOE Standard 3020. The ceramic filter is designed to be nonflammable, corrosion resistant, and compatible with high temperatures and moisture. The ceramic filter will significantly…

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 San Joaquin River headwaters

LLNL has developed a noble gas mass spectrometry facility that houses a state-of-the-art water-gas separation manifold and mass spectrometry system designed specifically for high throughput of groundwater samples. The fully automated, computer-controlled manifold system allows analysis of the full suite of noble gases (3He/4He, He, Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe concentrations), along with low level…

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carbon_ion_pump

LLNL has developed a new method of separating carbon dioxide from flue gas. LLNL's ion pump method increases the concentration of dissolved carbonate ion solution. This increases the vapor pressure of carbon dioxide gas, permitting carbon dioxide to be removed from the downstream side of the ion pump as a pure gas. The ion pumping may be obtained from reverse osmosis, electrodialysis, or the…

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fte_cd

LLNL has developed an innovative technology known as flow-through electrode capacitive desalination (FTE-CD) that promises to unlock an almost inexhaustible water source for U.S. and global population markets. FTE-CD represents a robust and low-maintenance path for efficiently and cost-effectively producing clean drinking water from seawater and brackish water.

FTE-CD removes salt by…