ENERGY SECURITYInnovative Long-Duration Energy Storage Project

By Johnathon R. Briggs

Published 14 December 2023

Argonne and Idaho National Laboratories have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for a project to validate CMBlu Energy’s battery technology for microgrid resilience and electric vehicle charging. U.S. Department of Energy selects national labs to validate the company’s battery technology for microgrid resilience and electric vehicle charging.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, along with Idaho National Laboratory (INL), was chosen by the agency for a demonstration project to validate an innovative long-duration energy storage system developed by battery manufacturer CMBlu Energy. The collaborative project aims to improve microgrids in cold climates and make fast charging of electric vehicles more affordable in underserved communities. 

Over the course of the project, Argonne and INL will deploy and evaluate CMBlu Energy’s Organic SolidFlow™ battery technology. The materials used in the construction of these batteries are non-metallic and abundant, with a goal to build resilient and domestic supply chains. The batteries are targeted for community, industrial and utility-scale applications of medium and long duration.

The DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) selected this initiative as one of six demonstration projects in September as part of a long-duration energy storage lab call

“Demonstration projects, especially those at national labs, efficiently mature our understanding of new technologies in key use cases,” said battery scientist Sue Babinec, program lead for stationary storage at Argonne. ​“This collaborative project will validate CMBlu’s Organic SolidFlow battery while providing a path for expansion of electric vehicles to underserved communities.” 

“This awarded work provides a unique avenue to showcase the strengths of INL and Argonne to explore flow battery performance at colder-than-room temperatures, relevant to energy storage needs at northern latitudes and winter conditions,” said Kevin Gering, a distinguished staff scientist at INL. ​“We are enthusiastic about applying our collective expertise to understand CMBlu’s Organic SolidFlow battery’s performance so the technology can find those critical niches it can thrive within.” 

“We’re honored to participate in this project with two preeminent research teams that are advancing clean energy,” said Ben Kaun, president of CMBlu Energy, Inc. ​“The unique capabilities and resources of Argonne and INL will enable CMBlu to accelerate the commercialization of our Organic SolidFlow battery solution. Our long-duration energy storage is designed to support grid resilience and integration for EV fast charging and microgrid applications, and this demonstration is an excellent opportunity to validate its real-world performance.” 

The project aims to provide valuable insights for microgrids, which are often used in remote or critical infrastructure settings, such as hospitals. By demonstrating the effectiveness of CMBlu’s Organic SolidFlow batteries, the project could bolster the resilience of microgrids by ensuring a constant power supply, even during extended outages or fluctuations in the main grid. 

The project also seeks to make fast charging of electric vehicles more affordable in rural and underserved communities by reducing charging facility installation and operational costs.  

The project will span two regions. In the Midwest, Argonne researchers plan to demonstrate the effectiveness of CMBlu’s Organic SolidFlow batteries at the lab’s Smart Energy Plaza. The plaza is a fully renovated and repurposed gas station designed to conduct research on the integration and management of electric vehicle charging, renewables, building systems, and energy storage. Argonne researchers will gather data and analyze how the technology can inform real-world scenarios.   

At the INL Battery Test Center in Idaho, researchers will conduct performance tests, including assessing how well the Organic SolidFlow batteries perform at different temperatures. This rigorous testing is crucial to ensure the technology’s reliability in diverse environments. The INL center serves as the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) primary center for battery life and performance testing.  

Additional project partners include: Illinois Alliance for Clean TransportationElectric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Jensen HughesDrive Clean Indiana and National Grid

OCED was established in 2021 to help scale the emerging technologies needed to tackle the nation’s most pressing climate challenges and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The DOE office manages more than $25 billion in funding to deliver clean energy demonstration projects at scale in partnership with the private sector to accelerate deployment, market adoption and the equitable transition to a decarbonized energy system. 

Johnathon Briggs is responsible for strategic planning and implementation of marketing communications for energy storage research at Argonne National Laboratory. The article was originally posted to the website of Argonne National Laboratory.