04/09/2009 Archived Entry: "Kentucky, Argonne partner to help build domestic battery industry"

argonne1 (40k image)

by Jay Blanton, Office of the Governor

The Commonwealth of Kentucky, the University of Kentucky (UK) and the University of Louisville (U of L) are partnering with Argonne National Laboratory to establish a Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center to help develop and deploy a domestic supply of advanced battery technologies for vehicle applications that will aid in securing U.S. energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help strengthen the economy.

“Advanced batteries will play a significant role in the future energy and economic security of the United States,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “At this time, nearly all large-scale advanced battery production is in Asia, with the United States having only limited manufacturing capabilities. To address this situation, the United States must quickly develop improved advanced battery technologies and significantly ramp up domestic production capabilities in order to become the hands-down global leader of these technologies.”

“The Kentucky-Argonne partnership will help in turning the tide on U.S. battery development and support President Obama’s goal to have one million Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles on the road by 2015,” Argonne Director Robert Rosner said. “It will help to bridge the gap between research and commercialization by facilitating the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing processes for lithium-ion and other advanced batteries.”

The center’s major goals would be to support the development of a viable U.S. battery manufacturing industry; make it easier for federal labs, universities, manufacturers, suppliers and end-users to collaborate; develop advanced manufacturing technology to reduce advanced battery production costs; and accelerate the commercialization of technologies developed at national laboratories and universities.

“The center will initially focus on lithium-ion battery manufacturing R & D,” said Mark Peters, deputy associate laboratory director of Energy Sciences and Engineering at Argonne. “In the long-term, the center would help in the development of technologies that would enable a significant increase in energy densities, including lithium-air and zinc-air systems for vehicle applications and advanced batteries for cost-efficient and long-life grid power storage applications.”

The formation of a Battery Manufacturing R&D Center has been endorsed by Ford Motor Company, as well as battery manufacturers, including those in the recently formed National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery Cell Manufacturers, which was organized to produce advanced lithium-ion battery cells for transportation applications in the United States.

The center will be located in central Kentucky to leverage the expertise and research facilities at UK and U of L. Complementary research and development capabilities and facilities will also be located at Argonne.

“The University of Kentucky is excited to participate in the development of a Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center with Argonne,” said UK President Lee Todd. “Not only will this partnership be a great educational opportunity for our students, it also will give them the chance to contribute to the creation of what will be a strong battery manufacturing industry in the United States.”

“From an academic perspective, the Kentucky-Argonne partnership will provide our science and engineering students with the opportunity to work with a research organization the caliber of Argonne National Laboratory,” said U of L President James Ramsey. “Argonne is unique in that it has a broad and commanding presence in battery R&D. It has transportation and systems analysis programs that take research breakthroughs and apply them in technologies than can be commercialized.”

“Central Kentucky is an ideal location for a national Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center,” said Larry Hayes, secretary of the Governor’s executive cabinet and interim secretary for economic development. “Not only does Kentucky have an experienced auto-industry related workforce, but the region is within 500 miles of more than 4,800 auto-related vehicle manufacturers, including 69 vehicle assembly plants. We are especially proud that UK and U of L both have significant battery-related intellectual property that can support the activities of the center.”

The center may be eligible to receive funding from the Commonwealth of Kentucky through bonds, research tax credits and other incentives programs for future spin-off companies. The universities will contribute land, buildings, donor funds, research and development grant funds and “Bucks for Brains” researchers. Argonne and Kentucky will also pursue funding opportunities.

Argonne is a multi-disciplinary research facility and the nation’s leading federal lab for transportation-related research and development. Laboratory scientists and engineers perform basic and applied research on advanced materials and diagnostics for electrodes and cells; model battery life expectancy and electrochemical cell design and performance; and test cell and battery systems. Argonne will dedicate research and other staff to support the center.

Cooperatively, Kentucky will be able to contribute expertise from the University of Kentucky’s Center for Manufacturing and Center for Applied Energy Research, the Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative, the Center for Applied Energy Research and the University of Louisville’s Institute for Advanced Materials and Renewable Energy, Rapid Prototyping Center, Micro/Nano Technology Center, Logistics and Distribution Institute and the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.

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