Kentucky-Argonne Partnership to Help Build US Advanced Battery Industry
08 April 2009
The Commonwealth of Kentucky, the University of Kentucky (UK) and University of Louisville (U of L) are partnering with the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory to establish a national Battery Manufacturing R&D Center to help develop and deploy a domestic supply of advanced battery technologies for vehicle applications.
The Center’s major goals would be to support the development of a viable US 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. 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.—Mark Peters, deputy associate laboratory director of Energy Sciences & Engineering at Argonne
The formation of a national 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 Manufacture (earlier post), 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 the UK and the U of L. Complementary R&D capabilities and facilities will also be located at Argonne.
Kentucky has an experienced auto industry-related workforce, and the region is within 500 miles of more than 4,800 auto-related vehicle manufacturers, including 69 vehicle assembly plants, noted Larry Hayes, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s Cabinet Secretary.
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 Kentucky universities will contribute land, buildings, donor funds, R&D grants funds and “Bucks for Brains” researchers. Argonne and Kentucky will also pursue other funding opportunities.
Argonne is a multi-disciplinary research facility and a leading federal lab for transportation-related R&D. 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 UK’s Center for Manufacturing and Center for Applied Energy Research, the Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative, the U of L’s Institute for Advanced Materials and Renewable Energy, Rapid Prototyping Center, Micro/Nano Technology Center, and Logistics and Distribution Institute, and the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.
Advanced batteries will play a significant role in the future energy and economic security of the United States. 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.—Gov. Beshear
I have often wondered if patents granted under government grants and funding were considered in the public domain and free for companies to utilize. If not I think they should be for free use by American companies only. I believe that the patent system acually slows down technology growth by restricting the deployment of technology. If one develops a technology under government money of any kind, it should be free to American companies and restricted for foreign use. I hope it is that way!
Posted by: Lad | 08 April 2009 at 05:07 PM
I fully agree with you.
Patent Wrights should belong to whoever paid for them. Anything designed and developed with public money should belong to the public.
Unfortunately, it is rarely the case.
Posted by: HarveyD | 08 April 2009 at 07:03 PM
Patent holders are the defenders of those patents. If a National Lab or grant project chooses to allow use of a patent for a nominal fee, that is their decision.
Posted by: SJC | 08 April 2009 at 07:04 PM
Designing fully automated larger battery cell manufacturing machines is the only way to
1) reduce battery costs
2) keep the facilities in an expensive labor country like the USA
Some say that advanced cell manufacturing automation equipment exists but those machines are for tiny cylindrical batteries and do not exist for larger prismatic automotive cell manufacture.
Heavy automation is an absolute requirement and Li-Ion cells would resemble printing or wall-covering machinery more than typical existing cell automation.
In short, they need to design the automation machines and handling machines for the tool builders, so that the battery companies can order, build, and operate factories using such facilities. If lots of manual labor is needed, than the factories will go to cheap labor countries like China.
Posted by: ExDemo | 09 April 2009 at 08:34 AM
I agree, but I do not see the effort to do this. We had a chance to automate in the 70s but did not. The DOD was upset in the 80s because their displays were made in other countries. SemiTech was created with limited results.
Our society is a go it alone competitive one. This has worked in the past, but may need to be changed for the future. There can be a synergy in teamwork that is greater than the sum of the parts. If the machine designers got together with the battery makers, it could go quite well. I would say that is what the battery consortium organizations are for.
Posted by: SJC | 09 April 2009 at 08:52 AM
I agree with ExDemo that the battery automation is an imperative. Otherwise EVs and/or hybrids probably won't get much cheaper or better.
The merit of, or need for, a new entity to move battery technology along is less clear. What will this bring to the table that is not already in progress in many places by very good engineers and scientists?
Obviously Kentucky government at several levels sees jobs and industry from this. But if asked they will describe it all as a gift to humanity. And like any national lab Argonne needs programs to stay alive.
We know they are gonna. So hope they do it well.
Posted by: Ken | 09 April 2009 at 02:36 PM