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