Stanford University and the U.S. energy department’s Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) have combined forces to create the new SLAC-Stanford Battery Research Center. Its focus is on merging government investment and the technological savvy of Silicon Valley to invent “batteries and energy storage technologies with the goal of developing a sustainable path for electrifying key economic sectors, including transportation, the electric grid, industry, manufacturing and development.”

The center will blend government, university, and private-sector expertise in chemistry, materials development, engineering, high-tech manufacturing, and related fields to make batteries that hold more energy more efficiently while costing less.

The center also will devote a portion of its work to creating batteries from nontoxic, abundantly available resources, devising ways to mine and use them with minimal environmental impact, and rendering them recyclable at the end of their useful  lives, according to the new center’s announcement. 

Scientists with SLAC and Stanford have a track record of working together to turn out innovations that already have made power cells lighter, smaller, more efficient, and able to store and deliver more energy.

A key task for the group will be to create storage technologies to hold hundreds of terawatt-hours of electricity generated from renewable sources. The U.S. has around 1 percent of that capacity today, according to the energy department.

The formal collaboration has grown from a 2020 project involving two battery labs at SLAC where Stanford students and researchers have been developing new battery materials and testing them in experimental devices.

TRENDPOST: Better late than never.

The new SLAC-Stanford Center is the kind of public-private skunkworks that China has used for decades to dramatically expand and accelerate its technological know-how.

That has paid off in the country’s dominance in electric vehicle technologies and manufacturing, including batteries.

While the new U.S. center will advance battery science, it is likely to complement China’s leadership in the field, not replace it.

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