DOE Grants UCLA, Others Nearly $70 Million To Enhance Clean Energy

Dec. 22, 2023
UCLA is one of 18 universities tapped to find solutions that will make clean energy systems more resilient.

The U.S. Department of Energy has granted UCLA $4.5 million over three years to establish the Center for Strain Optimization for Renewable Energy (STORE). As part of the Energy Earthshots Initiative, UCLA is one of 18 universities receiving a combined $69.1 million for projects enhancing clean energy systems. STORE's mission is to make sodium-ion batteries a feasible alternative to lithium-ion ones, addressing lithium's cost and geopolitical challenges. 

“The goal is to leverage the ample availability of sodium and optimize the performance of sodium-ion batteries with the right materials and physical structure,” said STORE’s deputy director Bruce Dunn in a Dec. 21 press release. Dunn holds the Nippon Sheet Glass Company Chair in Materials Science at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. “There is exciting work to be done in finding the right combinations. These innovations could lead to lower-cost batteries for grid-level energy storage.” Dunn is a distinguished professor of materials science and engineering, as well as bioengineering.

The center, led by chemistry and biochemistry Professor Sarah Tolbert, focuses on optimizing sodium-ion battery performance through innovative materials and structures, aiming to reduce costs for grid-level energy storage. Collaboration includes UC Santa Barbara, USC, Caltech, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

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