U.S. Department of Energy awards $10.75 million to establish Energy Frontier Research Center at Case Western Reserve University

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Case Western Reserve University $10.75 million over four years to explore “Breakthrough Electrolytes for Energy Storage” (BEES), with the goal of inventing large, long-lasting energy solutions for the power grid.  BEES will be part of the DOE’s new Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC).


The DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences announced the $100 million in 2018 awards on June 29. The funding will be distributed among 42 centers nationally, including 22 new projects such as the one being led by Case Western Reserve, which was the only Ohio project to receive funding in this round. Over the four-year period, the program awards total around $300 million.

BEES, which was proposed with support from the Case School of Engineering and Great Lakes Energy Institute (GLEI), will be led by CWRU Faculty Member and Professor of Chemical Engineering Robert Savinell.  Savinell will lead a team that will collaborate with researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; University of Texas at Austin; Hunter College; Notre Dame University; Columbia University; New York University; and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Also on the Case Western Reserve team: Burcu Gurkan, Jesse Wainright and Rohan Akolkar, from the chemical engineering department at the Case School of Engineering; and Emily Pentzer and Clemens Burda, from the chemistry department at the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Efficient, large-scale energy storage is critical to the growth of renewable energy. Historically, solar and wind power have always been limited by the lack of storage capacity. Current technology is very expensive, and can’t provide large amounts of power for hours or days. Large-scale storage would also enable fossil fuel power plants to run more efficiently and store excess power, as opposed to being fired up or cut back in response to energy needs.

BEES will begin work this fall to explore the chemistry of two new classes of electrolytes: deep eutectic solvents and soft nanoparticle electrolytes. These electrolytes are high-performance in energy density, safe, non-volatile, and are less impactful on the environment than current batteries.

For more information, visit thedaily.case.edu or energy.gov.