3D sponge and SEM Three-Dimensional Zinc Electrode Architectures for High-Performance Batteries

Zinc-based batteries offer a safe, inexpensive alternative to fire-prone lithium-based batteries, yet have been historically limited by poor rechargeability. The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has eradicated this centuries-old roadblock by developing a 3D zinc (Zn) “sponge” electrode architecture comprising interpenetrating networks of Zn scaffolding and void space.

Left: sandwich with photovoltaic panel, wiring, antenna. Right: step design, which better radiates excess heat, patent pending. (Photos: Jamie Hartman, NRL) Step Variation of Sandwich Module for Space Solar Power Satellite
  • New “step” architecture for space solar module (patent pending) better radiates heat
  • Module four-times more efficient at converting sunlight to microwave energy than closest competitor
  • Assembled in satellite array, modules could beam power to on-Earth receiver, providing sustainable, base-load power for a city or military missions
Zero-Power Bathythermograph Sensors

The Zero Power Ballast Control (ZPBC) is a technology that relies on microbial energy harvesting developments to enable unsupervised underwater sensing with subsequent surfacing and reporting capabilities. With an ultimate goal of producing simple, small, power- efficient data harvesting nodes with varia-ble buoyancy, the device will be able to monitor ocean temperatures with a stay time ranging from weeks to months and eventually years, providing a longer term than other mechanisms such as the Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT).

Nanoscale metal oxide coatings on 3D carbon nanoarchitectures. High Energy Storage Capacitor

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a method of electroless deposition of conformal ultrathin (<20 nm) metal oxides on the high-surface-area walls of commercial carbon nanofoam papers, typically 0.1–0.3 mm thick. The resulting ultrathin metal oxides rapidly take up and release electrons and ions, thereby storing energy at 300–600 Farads per gram of oxide, while the carbon nanofoam paper serves as a 3-dimensional current collector and defines a pre-selected porous electrode architecture.

Continuous Sustainable Power Supply: Benthic Microbial Fuel Cell

NRL has developed the benthic microbial fuel cell (BMFC) as a persistent power supply for marine-deployed applications. The BMFC operates on the bottom of marine environments where it oxidizes organic matter residing in sediment with oxygen in overlying water. The NRL BMFC is a maintenance free, non-depleting power supply suitable for a wide range of sensors presently powered by batteries.

Zirconium-Aluminum-Hydride Nanoparticles

NRL has eliminated the formation of aluminum oxide coating, the impediment associated with burn kinetics for metal-Al Hydride nano-scale particles. NRL Investigators have developed a method for producing stabilized Zr-Al Hydride nano-scale particles with carbohydrate based gel coatings that are air stable.

Miniature Microbial Fuel Cells

NRL has developed a novel microbial fuel cell (MFC) for harvesting energy from aerobic aqueous environments. It is powered by passive nutrient diffusion instead of energy-draining pumps used in other MFCs, thereby increasing the net energy output. The NRL design sequesters electrochemically active microbes in the cell, rather than relying on environmentally available bacteria. This allows the NRL MFC to be placed in a wide range of aerobic aqueous environments, not only in the bacteria's natural habitat at the sediment/water interface.

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