The Berkeley Energy Storage and Conversion for Transportation and Renewables (BESTAR) Program is the umbrella organization of research efforts to understand the basic science of as well as overcome the technological barriers to next-generation batteries and fuel cells for the low emmisions’ transportation and grid storage technologies required for a clean, sustainable energy system.

Berkeley Lab is the DOE lead National Lab for focused fundamental research in the field of batteries. It is also a major player in the fields of fuel cells and flow batteries. The staff of about sixty scientists and engineers occupies more than 25,000 square feet in two buildings at Berkeley Lab’s hillside campus.

The BESTAR Program comprises innovative, cutting-edge medium- and long-term research in four primary areas:

  1. New Electrode Materials
  2. Advanced Diagnostics Techniques
  3. Electrode Architecture
  4. Theory and Modeling

It is noteworthy that, on behalf and by delegation of the DOE (Office of Vehicle Technologies), LBNL also manages its exploratory technology research called the Batteries for Advanced Transportation Technologies (BATT) Program which is the premier fundamental research program in the U.S. for developing high performance, rechargeable batteries for EVs and HEVs. Through this program, LBNL is monitoring and managing projects carried out in other National Labs, Universities, and Industry by some of the very best experts in the field in North America.  In addition to the four major thrusts listed above, the BATT Program has also a vibrant activity in Electrolytes and Electrolyte Additives. Electrolytes hold an important key to the use of high voltage cathodes, and therefore to the development of high power and high energy devices.

While in recent years the major focus has been on lithium-ion chemistry, the Electrochemistry Group has also initiated projects in lithium-air batteries that have the potential of delivering very high energy densities.  A very deep strategic reflection is currently underway and LBNL is forcefully engaging the Scientific Community to think about “beyond the lithium-ion” technologies and shape our future strategies.

Finally, capitalizing on its know-how in fuel cells, the Electrochemistry Group is leading an industry disruptive project in the area of flow batteries along with several industry partners.  The objective of this ARPA-E funded project is to deliver a very low cost battery for grid-scale energy storage.