U.S. Creates Advanced Battery Innovation Hub

WASHINGTON, DC, February 9, 2012 (ENS) – U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu plans to launch a new Energy Innovation Hub for advanced research on batteries and energy storage with an investment of up to $120 million over five years.

Secretary Chu announced Tuesday that the hub will be funded at up to $20 million in fiscal year 2012.

The role of the new hub will be to develop what the energy secretary called “radically new” scientific approaches, including the exploration of new materials, devices, systems and novel approaches for transportation and utility-scale storage.

Chu’s strategy of establishing Energy Innovation Hubs is aimed at gathering teams from a range of intellectual disciplines to rapidly accelerate scientific discoveries and shorten the path from laboratory innovation to commercial deployment of critical energy technologies.

A battery is tested at the National Renewable Energy laboratory. (Photo courtesy NREL)

“As part of the Obama Administration’s investments in science and innovation, this Energy Innovation Hub will bring together scientists, engineers, and industry to develop fresh concepts and new approaches that will ensure America is at the leading-edge of the growing global market for battery technology,” said Chu, announcing the new hub.

“With the advances from this research and development effort, we will be able to design and produce batteries here in America that last longer, go farther, and cost less than today’s technologies,” he said.

The hub will foster new energy storage designs and develop working, scalable prototype devices for electrochemical storage, overcoming current manufacturing limitations through innovation to reduce complexity and cost, Chu explained.

The ultimate goal will be to surpass the current technical limits for electrochemical energy storage and reduce the risk level enough for industry to further develop the innovations discovered by the hub and deploy these new technologies in the marketplace.

Initial awards will be openly competed among R&D performers and are for $20 million in the first year and $25 million in years two through five, for a maximum of $120 million over the five year term, subject to Congressional appropriations.

Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete and are encouraged to form partnerships when submitting their proposals.

Letters of Intent to apply are due on March 1, 2012 with full applications due on May 31, 2012.

This will be the fourth such Energy Innovation Hub established by the department since 2010. The other hubs are: the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, which is developing fuels directly from sunlight; the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors; and the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings

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