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Lawrence Livermore researchers have conceived of a physics-based cryptocurrency that could one day transmit electricity in addition to information. Their “Electricity-Collateralized Stablecoin,” or “E-Stablecoin,” represents the first blockchain concept to be both fully decentralized and collateralized by a physical asset–in this case, electricity. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, energy is not consumed following transaction; instead, the currency can be “burned” to redeem its associated energy input.
Livermore researcher Maxwell Murialdo explains the innovation linking financial and energy transfer: “Any anonymous party can mint an E-Stablecoin token with the input of roughly one kilowatt-hour of electricity. They can then transact with the digital token like any other cryptocurrency, or even turn it back into usable electricity—all without the need for electrical power companies, electrical transmission lines, permissions, or authorities. It is a trustless system from top to bottom.”
At present, E-Stablecoin provides a theoretical proof of concept for potential blockchain technologies. Looking forward, minting E-Stablecoin using, for instance, the ambient temperature in a warm location and redeeming it in a cooler location would effectively create a remote heat engine. Similar principles could eventually be exploited to distribute electricity to areas lacking requisite infrastructure or to intermittently channel renewable energy across the power grid to maintain efficiency in the face of climate change.
Contact: Maxwell Murialdo (925) 422-2577 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Livermore researchers have created responsive, architected materials that react to changing environments. According to their paper, published June 20, 2022, in Nature Reviews Materials, the materials are highly programmable, meaning their reactions to different stimuli can be preset during fabrication. Staff scientist and lead author of the study Xiaoxing Xia explains, “Architected materials…can respond to various forms of stimuli—be it mechanical, thermal, electromagnetic, or chemical—and transform their shape, change properties, or navigate autonomously.”
Classical materials exhibit dynamic properties—for example, phase transition—at naturally occurring thresholds; applying processes of heating, chemical reaction, and / or physical deformation permanently alters these properties until another process occurs. Architected materials “are not stagnant after fabrication,” says Xia. Using computational logic and machine learning, architected materials can be structurally encoded to respond in unique ways under specific conditions.
Potential applications utilizing these responsive materials are vast. Programmable, adaptable form and function is highly advantageous in embedded medical devices and drug delivery. Other uses include secure information storage and performing inference or recognition tasks. “The burgeoning research space raises fundamental questions about the future of technological development: logical, transformable, and autonomous structures will lead researchers to reevaluate standard definitions of agency and sentience,” says Xia.
Contact: Xiaoxing Xia (925) 423-6489 (email@example.com).
Lawrence Livermore has partnered with American electrolyte materials company Ampcera, Inc., to develop next-generation lithium–ion battery fabrication methods. The selected technique would allow for 3D-printed batteries featuring greater energy and power densities than feasible using current means. Lead investigator Jianchao Ye explains that the team plans to adapt the process of laser powder bed fusion—originally conceived for 3D printing small-scale metal parts—to produce 3D-structured lithium battery cathodes without the use of solvents. “The environmentally benign process allows for thick, high-capacity 3D-cathode structures to be processed, enabling lithium–ion batteries to charge up to 80 percent in 15 minutes or less,” says Ye.
The additive manufacturing method will thermally bind mixtures of cathode powder onto the aluminum current collector to produce unique battery architectures with heightened performance. Using a laser-powered process avoids the use of harmful solvents that are routinely employed in the standard battery manufacturing technique of slurry casting and coating. In light of significant advantages in efficient and clean energy storage offered by the venture, the project has received $1.5 million in funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The effort is one of a host of DOE-funded projects that support domestic-energy resilience while minimizing environmental impact.
Contact: Jianchao Ye (925) 423-6696 (firstname.lastname@example.org).