News: Energy

A new way to provide cooling without power

MIT researchers have devised a new way of providing cooling on a hot sunny day, using inexpensive materials and requiring no fossil fuel-generated power. The passive system, which could be used to supplement other cooling systems to preserve food and medications in hot, off-grid locations, is essentially a high-tech version of a parasol.   more

A new concept for thermal energy storage

More than half of all the energy used to power mechanical, chemical, and other processes is expelled into the environment as heat. Power plants, car engines, and industrial processes, for example, produce vast amounts of heat but use a relatively small fraction of it to actually do work. And…   more

Extending the life of low-cost, compact, lightweight batteries

Metal-air batteries are one of the lightest and most compact types of batteries available, but they can have a major limitation: When not in use, they degrade quickly, as corrosion eats away at their metal electrodes. Now, MIT researchers have found a way to substantially reduce that corrosion,…   more

A powerful new battery could give us electric planes that don’t pollute

Brightly colored molecular models line two walls of Yet-Ming Chiang’s office at MIT. Chiang, a materials science professor and serial battery entrepreneur, has spent much of his career studying how slightly different arrangements of those sticks and spheres add up to radically different outcomes…   more

Longer lasting storage needs cheaper chemistries

Energy storage is often mentioned as one of the remedies for California's duck curve problem, but the economics do not always work out. The technology is essential to a clean energy future, but it will be important to develop lower cost batteries with longer durations, according to…   more

Sadoway on The Future of Battery Storage and Renewable Energies

"Recently I had the chance to speak with one of those visionaries: A scientist who has spent an entire career working on (and inventing) grid-level renewable energy storage mechanisms. Professor Donald Sadoway is a current MIT professor, an inventor with over a dozen patents, and a 2012 TIME “…   more

Self-healing metal oxides could protect against corrosion

Researchers have found that a solid oxide protective coating for metals can, when applied in sufficiently thin layers, deform as if it were a liquid, filling any cracks and gaps as they form. The thin coating layer should be especially useful to prevent leakage of tiny molecules that can…   more

A new way to find better battery materials

A new approach to analyzing and designing new ion conductors — a key component of rechargeable batteries — could accelerate the development of high-energy lithium batteries, and possibly other energy storage and delivery devices such as fuel cells, researchers say. The new approach relies…   more

Investing in Tech That’s Worth the Wait

Innovations in fields like energy and transportation often take time—and extra support—to develop. The Engine at MIT is helping them make the leap from the lab to the marketplace. Liquid separation wouldn’t top most people’s lists of world-changing technologies. But consider this: every…   more

A new approach to rechargeable batteries

A type of battery first invented nearly five decades ago could catapult to the forefront of energy storage technologies, thanks to a new finding by researchers at MIT. The battery, based on electrodes made of sodium and nickel chloride and using a new type of metal mesh membrane, could be used…   more

New technique allows rapid screening for new types of solar cells

The worldwide quest by researchers to find better, more efficient materials for tomorrow’s solar panels is usually slow and painstaking. Researchers typically must produce lab samples — which are often composed of multiple layers of different materials bonded together — for extensive testing.…   more

A new way to store thermal energy

In large parts of the developing world, people have abundant heat from the sun during the day, but most cooking takes place later in the evening when the sun is down, using fuel — such as wood, brush or dung — that is collected with significant time and effort. Now, a new chemical…   more

10 years of energy research at MIT

Q: What are some of the most significant research impacts the MIT energy community has made over the past decade? A: While the horizon for the majority of energy research we do here at MIT is generally at least several decades, some researchers have already been able to translate their…   more

Will metal supplies limit battery expansion?

The dramatic rise in production of electric vehicles, coupled with expected growth in the use of grid-connected battery systems for storing electricity from renewable sources, raises a crucial question: Are there enough raw materials to enable significantly increased production of lithium-ion…   more

Making renewable power more viable for the grid

Wind and solar power are increasingly popular sources for renewable energy. But intermittency issues keep them from connecting widely to the U.S. grid: They require energy-storage systems that, at the cheapest, run about $100 per kilowatt hour and function only in certain locations. Now…   more

Making a pledge for the climate with our careers

Jeremy Poindexter, a graduate student in DMSE, recently published a piece titled "Making a pledge for the climate with our careers" in The Tech. "As I enter my fifth year as a PhD student at MIT and contemplate my post-graduation career trajectory, I chuckle when rereading these old words…   more

New analysis explains role of defects in metal oxides

Sometimes things that are technically defects, such as imperfections in a material’s crystal lattice, can actually produce changes in properties that open up new kinds of useful applications. New research from a team at MIT shows that such imperfections in a family of materials known as…   more

Materials Day Symposium 2017

Hosted annually by our friends at MPC, Materials Day includes a topical symposium followed by a student poster session. This year the symposium will be broad in scope and will involve primarily speakers from MIT. The theme will be Frontiers in Materials Research. Presentations will be given by speakers who represent MIT’s new generation of leaders in material research.   more

Researchers clarify mystery about proposed battery material

Battery researchers agree that one of the most promising possibilities for future battery technology is the lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) battery, which could provide three times as much power for a given weight as today’s leading technology, lithium-ion batteries. But tests of various…   more

Study suggests route to improving rechargeable lithium batteries

Most of today’s lithium-ion batteries, which power everything from cars to phones, use a liquid as the electrolyte between two electrodes. Using a solid electrolyte instead could offer major advantages for both safety and energy storage capacity, but attempts to do this have faced unexpected…   more

Taking Materials to Extremes

Lithium-air batteries are the Holy Grail in the worldwide quest for better batteries, because they can store energy at very high densities, at least in theory. On the downside, they suffer from high losses in energy conversion and other drawbacks. Ju Li’s MIT research group, however, has…   more