CHICAGO, Illinois, December 5, 2012 (ENS) – A team led by Argonne National Laboratory will receive up to $120 million to establish a research Hub for advanced batteries to power electric and hybrid cars and develop energy storage technologies for the electricity grid.

Advancing next generation battery and energy storage technologies is a critical part of President Barack Obama’s strategy to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and lower energy costs.

The Hub, to be known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, JCESR (pronounced “J-Caesar”), will combine the R&D power of five Department of Energy national laboratories, five universities, and four private firms in an effort to achieve revolutionary advances in battery performance.

Emmanuel, Quinn, Chu, Crabtree

Participating officials gather around images illustrating what the Hub will become. From left: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu listen to Hub director George Crabtree, November 30, 2012. (Photo courtesy Argonne National Laboratory)

On Friday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was joined by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce the funding award of up to $120 million over five years that will make the new center possible.

“This is a partnership between world leading scientists and world leading companies, committed to ensuring that the advanced battery technologies the world needs will be invented and built right here in America,” said Secretary Chu.

“Based on the tremendous advances that have been made in the past few years, there are very good reasons to believe that advanced battery technologies can and will play an increasingly valuable role in strengthening America’s energy and economic security by reducing our oil dependence, upgrading our aging power grid, and allowing us to take greater advantage of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar,” said Chu.

“The large-scale, innovative research and transformational new battery systems that will result from this venture will mean more effective, lower cost and longer life energy storage technologies with real world applications for anything that can use a rechargeable battery,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

Governor Quinn is providing $5 million through his Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction plan to help build the state-of-the-art JCESR facility, which will be located on the Argonne National Laboratory campus in suburban Chicago.

Argonne has a history of developing key battery improvements, such as the battery in the Chevy Volt.

“This award sets up Argonne National Laboratory to be the world leader in an emerging field that will promote American energy independence, make green energy more available and affordable, and grow manufacturing in the region,” said Congressman Dan Lipinski at the announcement news conference.

“Since taking office, I have been focused on making Chicago the electric vehicle and batteries capital of the nation,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff. “This includes creating incentives to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, attracting companies to manufacture electric vehicles, and now, working with Argonne to make sure that Chicago is at the epicenter of research on this subject.”

Argonne battery lab

Argonne scientist Nancy Dietz Rago analyzes results in a Battery Post-Test Facility (Photo courtesy Argonne National Laboratory)

“All of these pieces fit together into a comprehensive strategy that will allow Chicago to lead in this industry, from conception to construction to implementation,” Emanuel said.

JCESR will be directed by George Crabtree, Argonne senior scientist, distinguished fellow and associate division director; distinguished professor of physics, electrical and mechanical engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago; and an internationally recognized leader in energy research.

The Hub will bring together some of the most advanced energy storage research programs in the United States.

Other national labs partnering with Argonne include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
University partners include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and University of Michigan.

Four industrial partners have also joined to help clear a path to the marketplace for the advances developed at JCESR, including Dow Chemical Company; Applied Materials, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; and Clean Energy Trust.

Selected through an open national competition with a rigorous merit review process that relied on outside expert reviewers, JCESR is the fourth Energy Innovation Hub established by the Energy Department since 2010.

Other Hubs focus on nuclear reactors, energy efficiency of buildings, and developing fuels from sunlight. A fifth Hub focused on critical materials research is still in the application process.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.