If you reflect on the immense contributions of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s 17 national laboratories to society since the 1930s, it’s easy to conjure up discoveries and capabilities related to the multibillion-dollar, world-class national user facilities spread across the county. But the true keystone to innovation and impact lies in the people—the expertise and dedication of our national laboratory researchers, technicians, and staff—working every day to address the nation’s energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.
Without the people behind the research and the science, none of these contributions are possible. And in honor of Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate the significant contributions of the women across the national laboratories focused on energy storage. Several highlighted here represent a diversity of backgrounds and current roles at the laboratories and range from early to senior career, many of whom are behind the enabling innovation areas in which DOE is investing—energy storage.
Energy storage affects grid reliability, the transportation sector, buildings and industry needs, and energy resilience for remote communities and beyond. To meet its goals, the DOE-wide Energy Storage Grand Challenge is leveraging expertise and capabilities across the national laboratory system, from discovery to deployment, across the entire range of energy storage areas, including electrochemical batteries, fuel cells, pumped storage hydropower, compressed air, hydrogen, thermal energy storage technologies, and flexible generation and controllable loads.
These women below are impacting the daily lives of Americans across the country with their dedication and abilities, and it’s their ingenuity that helps propel America to the forefront of science and technology.
Ms. Cassidy Anderson, a post-bachelor intern at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the past 18 months, is passionate about the opportunity to help make batteries better and cheaper through innovations in materials science and engineering. Ms. Anderson is a member of the DOE Vehicle Technology Office’s Battery500 Consortium team that is focused on the development of affordable lithium-metal anode batteries with energy densities that are more than double those of today’s best lithium-ion batteries. Her work with Battery500 includes synthesizing sulfur cathode materials and preparing and testing lithium sulfur pouch cell batteries to study the relationship between synthesis and performance under realistic service conditions. She has helped the team to better understand failure mechanisms in high-energy lithium-metal batteries and has provided insights on potential pathways to enable longer life cycles in future batteries. As a result of this opportunity to work on an important research area for DOE, in collaboration with a team of world-class scientists, Ms. Anderson was inspired to reconsider her future and make research her career goal. Earlier this year, she was accepted to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where she will continue her research to discover and develop next-generation materials for sustainable, high-energy storage technologies.
Dr. Hassina Z. Bilheux, a Senior Neutron Scattering Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, applies advanced imaging techniques using the laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor in the fields of materials research, including energy storage systems. In 2010, Dr. Bilheux led efforts to build instrumentation capable of performing neutron (2D) radiography and (3D) tomography techniques to study lithium-ion batteries. When a battery is used or being charged, it is occasionally possible for the lithium ions to get “stuck” in the cathode (positive electrode) and, as more of them fail not return to the anode (negative electrode), the battery slowly loses capacity. Through non-destructive techniques, Dr. Bilheux achieved real-time visualization of lithium getting “stuck,” thus providing unique insight into the failure mechanisms of lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, in some cases, needle-like bridges, or dendrites, can form between the two battery electrodes and short-circuit the battery, making it nonfunctional. For these instances, Dr. Bilheux conducted 3D tomography to observe the formation and evolution of the needles at given battery temperatures. Observing dendrite formations and their preferred propagation paths between the two electrodes is crucial in designing safer and more effective batteries for the electronic devices we use every day.
Dr. Hee Jung Chang is an early-career scientist in the Battery Materials and Systems Group at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with expertise in the processing, characterization, and testing of energy storage devices and components. Her research is focused on the discovery and development of new battery materials that can help resolve the cost and performance challenges of batteries designed for grid-scale energy storage applications. Now in her fifth year at the laboratory, Dr. Chang’s research seeks to make rechargeable zinc-based battery systems affordable and reliable through the development of new water-based binders for electrolytes and through understanding of redox mechanisms in MnO2 cathodes in mild aqueous electrolytes. While at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, she has also explored new chemistries for sodium metal halide batteries that operate at intermediate temperatures. These metal halide chemistries can help to improve long-term reliability and performance and lower operational costs of batteries for grid storage applications. Since joining PNNL as a postdoctoral research associate in 2015, Dr. Chang has authored or co-authored 15 articles in peer-reviewed journals describing her research in energy storage.
Dr. Bor-Rong Chen, a Materials and Performance Validation researcher at Idaho National Laboratory, is making distinct contributions to the assessment, analysis, and performance validation of new battery technologies. She has made considerable contribution to fundamental materials science including understanding synthetic conditions needed for the development of both aqueous and non-aqueous battery cathodes. These findings are vital for the development of sustainable manufacturing practices. More recently, she has made considerable advancement in the development of machine-learning-based analysis that enables the classification of key battery failure modes early in the life of the battery. In recently published work, she led efforts to differentiate two types of loss of lithium inventory. Understanding this loss is vital for the use of lithium-ion batteries in aggressive use conditions including fast charging of electric vehicle batteries and use of batteries in cold environments. The methods developed by Dr. Chen reduce the time needed for classification by four times and can be applied to technology development from early-stage R&D to commercial batteries. This advancement creates the opportunity to understand key failure modes in as few as 25 cycles, a development that will be vital for the validation of new battery technologies in emerging use cases. Her work has been published in high-impact journals including Nature Materials and Chemistry of Materials.
Dr. Lei Cheng, a Chemist at Argonne National Laboratory, focuses on energy storage research for next-generation batteries. Dr. Cheng spearheaded the application of high throughput computing to calculate properties of organic molecules and liquid electrolytes, bringing this field to the level of crystalline solids. The early work was instrumental in the creation of the Electrolyte Genome database and helped scientists identify potential molecules with suitable properties for use in the next-generation batteries such as flow batteries. Dr. Cheng has also made landmark advances in other areas of energy storage including discovery of novel solvation phenomenon in electrolytes, introducing new concepts for the lithium-air battery with its exceptional energy density, and enabling high-energy density lithium-sulfur batteries. She has also been active in outreach to inspire the next generation of scientists entering clean energy careers. Her work is central to the electrification of transportation and to integrating renewable energy on the grid.
Dr. Miaofang Chi, Senior R&D staff in the Center for Nanophase Materials Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, works on accelerating materials discovery for future generations of batteries. Specifically, she focuses on how batteries work and why they fail. She uses electron microscopes to see how atoms stack together in batteries and how they behave during charging and discharging. Her research has identified the bottlenecks in the practical application of solid electrolytes and has developed insights into designing future high-performance solid electrolyte materials for solid-state batteries. Solid-state batteries are one of the most promising battery configurations that are expected to lead to next-generation batteries that are safer, longer-lasting, more efficient, and will potentially double the driving range of today’s electric cars. Some of Dr. Chi’s signature work includes (1) demonstrating the expectational longevity of glass electrolyte-based solid-state batteries; (2) understanding the compatibility of solid electrolytes with lithium metal; (3) elucidating high-grain boundary resistivity in solid electrolytes; and (4) revealing the mechanism of unexpected dendrite growth in solid electrolytes. She has published more than 200 journal articles, received the Burton Medal from the Microscopy Society of America, and has been recognized as a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher.
Dr. Qiang Dai is an Energy Systems Analyst at Argonne National Laboratory. Joining the laboratory in 2014, Dr. Dai focuses her research on sustainable lithium-ion battery production, assembly, use, and recycling. Since 2017, Qiang has spearheaded the development of Argonne’s EverBatt model to enable a circular economy in the energy storage sector. The EverBatt model is a new kind of tool that helps calculate and communicate cost and environmental impacts of a battery through every stage of its life cycle. These stages include battery manufacture with virgin materials; collection and preprocessing; recycling; and then battery manufacture with recycled content. The ability to see all of this information permits better decision-making ability to the stakeholder by allowing a view of the big picture. Just as easily, users can use the free model to help see the effects of making changes to improve their battery recycling processes. EverBatt won a R&D 100 Award in 2019. Qiang is currently working with her colleagues in the ReCell Center, DOE’s advanced battery recycling center, to develop more economic and environmentally sound recycling processes for batteries. Her research is critical to the strategic planning and development of the United States’ battery recycling infrastructure and more broadly, a sustainable battery supply chain.
Dr. Marca Doeff serves as a Senior Scientist and Deputy Division Director of the Energy Storage and Distributed Resources Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Her research focuses on materials for batteries, particularly next-generation lithium-ion and “beyond lithium-ion” devices. Dr. Doeff was the first to demonstrate a sodium-ion battery with a soft carbon anode in the early 90s. When interest in beyond lithium-ion batteries re-ignited due to lithium supply security concerns 10 years ago, the research community pivoted to sodium and sought alternatives to the typical graphite anode that is used in lithium-ion batteries, and her groundbreaking paper now has over 400 citations. Sodium-ion batteries currently represent a strong “beyond lithium-ion” system for commercialization, especially as a drop-in replacement for electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries. They also are good candidates for cost- and resource-sensitive applications such as grid storage. Dr. Doeff won an R&D100 award in 2020 for an all solid-state battery design with both soft and hard electrolyte components. She is a Fellow of the Electrochemical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry and is currently the Secretary of the Electrochemical Society.
Ms. Kae Fink is a researcher in Mechanical Engineering at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Since joining the laboratory in 2018, Ms. Fink has become a leader in lithium-ion battery direct recycling, technology development, and diagnostic techniques. Recognizing that batteries in electric vehicles will eventually need to be recycled to both save the valuable materials that make up the battery and to eliminate unnecessary waste going to landfills, Ms. Fink’s work supports the development and optimization of novel sampling and data analysis methods to track how the positive electrode of lithium-ion batteries changes as the battery ages. Understanding this will be key to cheaper and more efficient recycling. She also conceived, developed, and executed a study to demonstrate a low-cost procedure for solvent washing of end-of-life cathodes to implement in a recycling line, which resulted in a patent in 2021. Ms. Fink is currently working on a novel process to remove aluminum and copper contaminants from shredded end-of-life batteries that could greatly improve the viability of a direct recycling line. She has also led technical laboratory testing for several projects with industrial partners who are developing advanced battery materials. Finally, she has designed novel gas collection and sampling techniques that provide detailed chemical information on battery systems. This diagnostic approach, which is critical to improving battery safety, has been used to study batteries undergoing mechanical abuse.
Dr. Brenda Garcia-Diaz is the Manager of Energy Materials at Savannah River National Laboratory and has been working in the field of energy storage for over 14 years. She worked as part of a multidisciplinary team that pioneered the electrochemical synthesis of aluminum hydride, which is a high-density energy storage medium for proton-exchange membrane fuel cells that store hydrogen (an energy carrier) as a solid chemical hydride. She also worked with the private sector to develop novel battery separator test methods for lithium-ion batteries. Dr. Garcia-Diaz worked on thermal energy storage as part of projects that solved technical challenges such as corrosion by molten salts. She was principal investigator on a project that developed a corrosion mitigation scheme that reduced corrosion below <15 microns/year in molten chlorides that would enable 30-year lifetimes for Concentrating Solar Power plants. Her team performed tests and provided bulk magnesium chloride salt with added corrosion inhibitors to Argonne National Laboratory for use in fabricating prototype phase change material thermal energy storage modules. Savannah River National Laboratory demonstrated that system components, such as metal or carbon foams used in the phase change materials, would not cause corrosion using the salt mixture that the team developed.
Ms. Tessa Greco is a Project Manager for Water Power at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Since joining the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2013, Ms. Greco has brought her certification as a Project Management Professional and her Master of Business Administration degree to bear as the engine for innovation of pumped storage hydropower (PSH). PSH is by far the largest source of energy storage on the grid, well-matched to provide reliability and resilience to the grid. Through her leadership, development, and execution of DOE’s American-Made Challenges FAST prize—which stands for “Furthering Advancements to Shorten the Time to commissioning for PSH”—Ms. Greco is driving the acceleration of PSH projects—specifically, reducing commission times of PSH projects from ten years to five—while reducing both cost and risk. As a result of Ms. Greco’s leadership with the FAST prize, NREL is now developing a bottom-up cost model for PSH, which will incorporate various scaling and geographic constraints and considerations.
Dr. Askin Guler Yigitoglu, R&D Staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, performs research on time-dependent reliability analysis for the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy's Integrated Energy Systems (IESs). An IES is an interconnected system of power generation, storage, and distribution technologies that provides on-demand thermal and electrical power to industrial, commercial, and residential customers. Dr. Yigitoglu is leading the reliability framework development efforts for IES. The framework gathers operational component and system data from the IES simulator (modeled using the laboratory’s TRANSFORM tool), builds relevant probabilistic models, and estimates the failure rates to forecast the lifetimes of the selected components and systems. The framework plug-in models, coupled with RAVEN, map the forecasted reliability-related cost (e.g., unplanned maintenance costs) into the overall stochastic cost optimization model. The model includes the characterization of multiple types of energy storage technologies to investigate the operational reliability of storage alternatives under stochastic electricity demands and their economic impact on the IES's operational cost. Reliable operation of an energy storage system can lead to economic competitiveness of the IESs with efficient use of generation resources for a better grid.
Dr. Katharine Harrison is a Senior Member of the Technical Staff in the Nanoscale Sciences Department at Sandia National Laboratories. Since joining Sandia in 2012, she has focused her research on improving next-generation battery materials to enable higher-energy batteries. Such batteries are needed to allow widespread adoption of electric vehicles to help curb fossil fuel use in the transportation sector. However, high-energy density batteries are very difficult to practically enable due to large morphological changes with battery cycling. Her approach is to combine electrochemical techniques with imaging techniques to better understand nanoscale processes occurring in these complex systems. As part of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research Hub, she enhanced understanding of high-energy density battery systems through in situ electrochemical atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy characterization techniques. Using her background in mechanical engineering and passion for electrochemistry has positioned her to show how mechanics affects electrochemical battery cycling and aging in high-energy density battery materials. Dr. Harrison has led four Laboratory-Directed Research and Development projects related to batteries, including a current Grand Challenge project focused on high-energy density lithium metal anodes and conversion cathode batteries. She also currently leads the mechanics thrust for the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office sponsored Silicon Consortium Project, a six national laboratory consortium focused on high-energy density silicon anodes. She has an h index of 18, has been granted one patent, and has submitted two other patent applications.
Dr. Ozge Kahvecioglu joined Argonne National Laboratory in 2010 as a Postdoctoral Associate. She has been instrumental in establishing and leading the process R&D and scale up of the Cathode Active Materials program at Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility from its inception. She currently serves as a Principal Materials Scientist, directing several projects for energy storage materials, with expertise in areas pertaining to materials manufacturing R&D, process scale-up, and advanced materials characterization. Dr. Kahvecioglu is the lead investigator for one of Argonne’s core battery programs that is funded by the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office, where she works with industry, academia, and other national laboratories on implementing and validating emerging synthesis technologies to reduce battery manufacturing costs while increasing the quality and performance of the materials. Dr. Kahvecioglu is credited with the first introduction of a Taylor Vortex Reactor to the United States for battery materials manufacturing—an advanced instrument to carry out chemical reactions. Using this new technology, she has developed improved production processes for several new cathode materials that allow for manufacturing intensification at lower cost. These novel materials are now used for further research and development by more than 50 research groups across the nation working on more efficient and safer lithium batteries.
Dr. Sumanjeet Kaur, a Research Scientist and Group Leader at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, performs research at the cutting edge of thermal energy storage technology development. Recognizing that energy use in buildings represents 39% of all primary energy use in the United States (more than transportation) and further that most of that energy is used in thermal form (e.g., air conditioning and heating, water heating, and refrigeration), Dr. Kaur’s work responds to the question “can affordable thermal energy storage technologies be developed to meet the thermal loads in buildings?” She is developing dynamically tunable, switchable, solid-state thermal energy storage materials for building-envelope applications. In other words, she’s creating a thermal battery that can be embedded in the walls of buildings that can be controlled by the occupant to store cold or heat using advanced material properties. This capability will overcome current challenges associated with similar technologies that are underused because they do not work in all seasons and lack controllability. Her research will enable thermal microgrids within a building system, time shifting of thermal loads (to exploit nighttime cooling the next day, for instance), and building interactions with the electrical grid to make the nation’s grid more resilient and reliable. Dr. Kaur is the inaugural leader of the Thermal Energy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which advances thermal technologies for applications from batteries to water desalination to critical material recovery.
Dr. Amy Marschilok is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stony Brook University with a joint appointment at Brookhaven National Laboratory where she is Manager of the Energy Storage Division. Her expertise is focused on electrochemistry and mechanistic understanding of redox processes through use of in situ and operando characterization tools, which allow researchers to probe the energy storage device while the chemical reaction is taking place. She has published more than 190 peer-reviewed journal articles and is noted as inventor on 10 patents and patent applications. She is one of the world’s leading experts in the application of energy dispersive x-ray diffraction for electrochemical energy storage. Her scientific discoveries include quantification of transport properties in thick electrodes through monitoring phase front formation and mobility enabling development of predictive models of rate dependence. Dr. Marschilok serves in several scientific leadership roles including Deputy Director of the Center for Mesoscale Transport Properties, a DOE-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, and is co-Director of the Institute of Electrochemically Stored Energy at Stony Brook University. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Society of Electroanalytical Chemistry.
Dr. Johanna Nelson Weker, a Staff Scientist at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, came to the laboratory in 2010 to help pioneer the use of powerful synchrotron-based X-rays to peer inside batteries while they operate, discovering how they function and what causes them to eventually fail. To successfully transition the world’s fleet of automobiles from fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable energy sources, dramatic improvements in battery technology are required. The suite of different X-ray tools at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC allows her to study changes in the chemistry, the atomic arrangement, and the shape of different battery components. If these changes are not reversed as the battery is charged and discharged, they contribute to a loss of reversible energy storage capacity which leads to shorter battery lifetime. As part of her work at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, Dr. Nelson Weker established the use of spectroscopic microscopy to take movies of the chemical changes during battery operation. These movies let scientists connect the local chemical changes with shape changes like particle swelling or cracking. These X-ray tools to study operating batteries enable scientists to test the potential of new energy materials and tailor existing materials to increase the battery lifetime and energy storage capacity.
Dr. Ruby Thuy Nguyen is the Group Leader of System Dynamics and Modeling in the Systems Science and Engineering Department at Idaho National Laboratory. Dr. Nguyen’s research focuses on supply chain resilience and potential impacts of new technologies on the global material supply chains, and she is a key member of the Critical Materials Institute. In that role, she leads investigations of raw battery material supply chains featuring cobalt, lithium, and other minerals. In her analysis of lithium, supply from U.S. geothermal brines could reach around 4% to 8% of total U.S. lithium supply and is economically viable. Her work compares the expected growth in electrification to the expected availability of critical metals like cobalt, copper, and nickel and provides useful insights for policy planning and technology gaps for the future of vehicle electrification and energy storage. While risks to cobalt supply are well known, Dr. Nguyen’s work identifies the need to consider copper and nickel when tackling cobalt supply risk. Dr. Nguyen’s research has revealed the critical requirement to extend the life of batteries to meet long-term demand for critical metals. Dr. Nguyen originally joined Idaho National Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow, and her supply chain work spans batteries and rare earth elements used in magnets and beyond.
Ms. Rebecca O’Neil, Advisor and lead for the Renewables team in the Electricity Infrastructure and Buildings Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, joined the laboratory in 2015. She is a recognized expert in pumped hydro energy storage, energy storage policy, and regulatory design. While on assignment to the U.S. Department of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office, she helped develop the Hydropower and Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System initiative. The initiative is a PSH research program that includes understanding the technological and operational innovations needed for conventional hydropower, PSH, and hybrid systems to operate in an efficient, resilient, and reliable manner in a rapidly evolving electricity system. She also leads and manages energy storage projects that provide non-energy benefits to communities and develops energy storage as core infrastructure throughout the grid. Rebecca was selected in 2020 to found and co-lead the IEEE Water-Power Task Force, which aims to bring together researchers and practitioners from academia, national laboratories, government, and industry to guide the future direction of research activities on the interdependency of power and water systems. The Task Force will address topics such as integrated planning and operation of water and power systems and use of advanced power system management techniques, including through deployment of energy storage systems, for the benefit of water management.
Dr. Kristin Persson is a Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley with a joint appointment as Senior Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where she serves as Director of the Molecular Foundry. Her expertise is materials informatics, specifically pursuing novel and optimized materials for energy storage applications. She has published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals, holds several patents in energy storage, and is among the world’s 1% most cited researchers. She has predicted and realized novel high-performance electrolytes, cathodes, and dopant formulations to advance energy density and safety of batteries, and she recently pioneered a new data-driven and machine learning methodology to predict the formation of the electrolyte-anode interface, which plays a crucial role in the stability of batteries. Dr. Persson serves in several scientific leadership roles, including in the Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research and Battery Materials Research Program. She is also the Director of the Materials Project, which provides free materials data and attracts over a hundred thousand users worldwide, where the battery cathode data is requested on average 400,000 times/month. She is an Associate Editor for Chemistry of Materials scientific journal and has received the DOE Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director’s award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement.
Dr. Yuliya Preger is a Senior Research and Development Chemical Engineer at Sandia National Laboratories in the Energy Storage Technology and Systems Group. Since joining Sandia in 2018, she has led research in lithium-ion battery safety and reliability for applications in grid energy storage. This research includes long-term cycling of commercial batteries to understand what conditions enhance degradation and abuse testing to understand how battery aging influences safety. Dr. Preger also partners with power electronics engineers to develop better ways of managing batteries (including a patent-pending method for mitigating thermal runaway) and with power systems engineers to incorporate battery data into techno-economic analysis of energy storage. Her research has led to invited talks, tutorials, handbook chapters, and peer-reviewed publications on battery safety and reliability. She is also passionate about open sourcing battery data and software tools to aid energy storage analysis and reduce the development time for new technologies. For example, she co-founded batteryarchive.org—the first public repository for easy visualization and comparison of battery degradation data across institutions. In the few months since launch, the site has been used by individuals across academia, industry, and utilities to understand how lithium-ion batteries perform in different conditions and to save money in their own testing.
Dr. Loraine Torres-Castro, a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, joined the laboratory in 2016 to conduct research and development into the safety and reliability of batteries under abusive conditions. The abuse testing work that Dr. Torres-Castro conducts evaluates batteries well outside of manufacturer-recommended specifications and deals with the severity of catastrophic thermal runaway. Her work in the Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms that lead to energy storage system safety incidents and developing mitigation strategies for single-cell and system failures, and she has helped to develop a fundamental understanding of cell failure to facilitate the design of safer energy storage systems. For instance, Dr. Torres-Castro has innovated abuse testing by targeting problems using a predictive approach (early detection for intervention) to eliminate failure rather than reacting to it. Her expertise and commitment to safety science have led to multiple cross-collaborations among sponsoring organizations, including DOE, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and NASA. On behalf of the Vehicle Technologies Office, her team developed and maintains the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium Battery Abuse Testing Manual, widely used by car manufacturers to evaluate new technologies. She is also a member of the Advanced Battery Consortium, for which she provides technical advice and recommendations. In addition, she actively mentors underrepresented groups on energy storage challenges and professional leadership both in English and Spanish at the University of Puerto Rico, her alma mater.
Dr. Judith Vidal is the Manager of the Building Energy Science Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and performs cutting-edge work on thermal storage systems.
Her expertise and capabilities have diversified into several technologies, such as building emerging technologies, concentrating solar power, water splitting electrolysis, fuel cells, thermoelectrics, and biofuels. She has developed high-temperature energy storage solutions for concentrating solar power plants for which she is considered a molten salt expert. Dr. Vidal’s thermal storage materials research covers thermochemical optimization and novel purification routes of thermal fluids, corrosion evaluation, and mitigation approaches. Finding ways to increase the temperature at which molten salts can store heat is critical to better solar thermal storage applications. However, materials at extreme temperatures can have negative effects on their containers, and many metals corrode in such aggressive conditions. Dr. Vidal’s research has paved the way to higher-temperature materials that demonstrate less corrosion, with new coatings to protect containment materials at high temperatures (600°–900°C) in molten salts and liquid metal alloys.
Dr. Vidal has authored more than 50 journal articles and other publications. The 2017 Gen3 CSP demonstration roadmap, for which she was the molten salt leader, has been cited more than 200 times.