Gov. Steve Beshear joined officials from the NIST, Argonne National Laboratory, and the University of Kentucky to announce the opening of a new $20.7 million facility dedicated to the research and development of renewable energy and energy storage technologies.
A portion of UK's new 43,000ft² building houses the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center, an advanced "open access" battery manufacturing R&D facility. In 2009, Gov. Beshear initiated the partnership among the Commonwealth, Argonne, UK and the University of Louisville. "Open access" enables industrial users to contract to use the lab space and equipment, or contract to have the Center's experts conduct research for them, all while protecting the intellectual property rights of the industrial partner.
"This amazing facility, which includes one of the first federal battery manufacturing laboratories in the United States, is more proof that Kentucky is now a leader in developing the energy and automotive technologies of the future," said Gov. Beshear. "The researchers working here will not only help advance the science involved in manufacturing batteries, they will also explore new technologies that leverage Kentucky's booming renewable energy resources, such as biomass and biofuels, that can supply the power to charge up tomorrow's batteries."
As part of UK's Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), the new facility will help researchers study and develop a wide range of energy-related technologies. From solar energy and biofuels, to advanced electrochemical power supplies (capacitors and batteries), the research will play a significant role in advancing the future energy and economic security of the United States.
Also attending the opening was Argonne Director Eric Isaacs, who echoed the Governor's remarks and stressed the importance of the new facilities in bridging the gap between research and commercialization.
"It's not enough to invent a better battery. We need to continue to revitalize our domestic battery industry by building tomorrow's batteries here in America. This Center in Kentucky is specifically designed to focus on developing and deploying advanced manufacturing processes for batteries and other types of energy storage devices to build America's battery industry," says Isaacs.
"Part of our plan for the new facility is to attract high-tech companies - and their high-value jobs - from across the nation and around the world that want to locate near the laboratory to facilitate research collaborations," said Gov. Beshear.
One company that has already located nearby for this reason is nGimat Co., based in Atlanta, which opened a facility in Lexington to better access the Kentucky-Argonne Center's expertise and resources. The company is developing advanced lithium titanate energy storage materials for use in next-generation automotive batteries.
"Kentucky can be - and increasingly is - a leader in advanced manufacturing - an area that will produce high-paying jobs critical to our development in a knowledge-based economy," said University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto. "Research and development conducted by our university and others like it in collaboration with the private sector and governments will be critical to our continued progress. Development and continued advancement will only occur in the future through connections and collaborations - which are richly represented by projects like this one."
The facility was funded by a competitive grant from NIST, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) NIST Construction Grant Program. The award consisted of $11.8 million in federal funds, with matching resources of $3.5 million provided by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and $1.9 million from UK.
An additional award of $3.5 million in state ARRA funds was provided by the Kentucky Cabinet for Energy and Environment, through its Department of Energy Development and Independence, to achieve industry certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and ensure the building is a model for energy efficiency.