ERI@N’s Energy Storage programme develops advanced electrochemical charge storage systems (ECSSs) to meet the current and future demands for a variety of distinct applications. A wide range of technologies are supported by the programme, including but not limited to; lithium ion batteries, beyond lithium technologies, next generation supercapacitors, flow batteries for large scale grid storage systems, and advanced batteries for high power applications such as electric vehicles. Each of these fields presents a unique set of criteria for which ECSSs must be tailored. ERI@N works closely with industrial partners and academic research institutions (both Singaporean and international) to deliver improvements to current ECSSs and develop future-focused solutions to support myriad energy needs and remain at the vanguard of energy storage technology.
The Energy Storage group at ERI@N is comprised of approximately 30 researchers, students and staff stationed both on NTU campus at the Research Techno Plaza and the department of Material Science and Engineering, and off-campus at nearby Clean Tech One. This provides an excellent framework for coupling the development of new technologies, with the in-house facilities to investigate the scale-up of these technologies to test industrial viability in the new Prototyping Lab at Clean Tech One. The areas of expertise and research activities of the Energy Storage programme are briefly summarised in the following sections.
Research Focus Areas and Core Competence
Hydrogen is perceived to be an ideal energy carrier with the potential to open up the door to a wide range of applications and policy options. On the other hand, fuel cells are energy conversion systems with high efficiencies and have a variety of applications in portable and stationary power supply. Hydrogen and fuel cells technologies have the potential to make major contributions to the key policy objectives of energy security and mitigation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, given sufficient support. To-date, there are approximately 400 demonstration projects currently in progress world-wide.
Singapore has had interests in Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technologies for the past 15 years, given that there are limited opportunities in renewable energies. An update on research, development and demonstration activities in Singapore has been recently compiled and can be found in International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (ISSN: 0360-3199). From the figure shown below (extracted from the journal), the nation developed well-rounded capabilities in research and development that attracted the attention of fuel cell companies.
Some of the potential applications in which fuel cell and hydrogen technologies can be deployed in Singapore to further reduce the emission and improve the energy efficiency are: grid storage and power distribution, grid balancing, transportation, emission control for generators, combined cooling, heat and power for buildings, back-up power for data centres, disaster relief application and on-site generation for remote sites such as islands.
The fuel cell group in NTU has developed capabilities in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and hydrogen related technologies, covering materials, catalysis and electro-chemistry, and thermo-fluid and design. Our efforts in building integrated fuel cell and cogen system, and power-to-power and power-to-gas are the latest development in responding to Singapore’s needs. Although fuel cell and hydrogen technologies have reached commercialization stage, it was cited in a recent industry report that the key issues that the industry is grappling with is the durability and the costs of the fuel cell, electrolyser and hydrogen energy storage. The durability and the costs issues are directly related to the costs and amount of the catalysts used in the systems. These issues are addressed by the on-going efforts in developing high performance, nano-sized catalysts for fuel cell and related technologies.
Research Focus and Core Competence