U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced 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. The hub, which will be funded at up to $20 million in fiscal year 2012, will focus on accelerating research and development of electrochemical energy storage for transportation and the electric grid. The interdisciplinary research and development through the new Energy Innovation Hub will help advance cutting-edge energy storage and battery technologies that can be used to improve the reliability and the efficiency of the electrical grid, to better integrate clean, renewable energy technologies as part of the electrical system, and for use in electric and hybrid vehicles that will reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
“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 Secretary Chu. “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.”
Energy Innovation Hubs are designed to bring together teams of scientists and engineers across intellectual disciplines to rapidly accelerate scientific discoveries and shorten the path from laboratory innovation to technological development and commercial deployment of critical energy technologies. The hubs are part of the Obama Administration’s broad-based clean energy research strategy aimed at harnessing American innovation to achieve needed breakthroughs in important energy technologies to grow the clean energy economy and generate new clean energy jobs.
The goal of the Batteries and Energy Storage Hub will be to deliver research leading to revolutionary new technologies. While advancing the current understanding and underlying science around energy storage, the role of the new hub will be to develop radically new scientific approaches, including the exploration of new materials, devices, systems and novel approaches for transportation and utility-scale storage. The hub should foster new energy storage designs and develop working, scalable prototype devices that demonstrate radically new approaches for electrochemical storage, overcoming current manufacturing limitations through innovation to reduce complexity and cost. 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 into the marketplace.
Letters of Intent to apply are due on March 1, 2012 with full applications due on May 31, 2012. Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete and are encouraged to form partnerships when submitting their proposals. The award selection is expected this summer.
This will be the fourth such hub established by the Department since 2010. Other hubs include the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, which focuses on advanced research to develop fuels directly from sunlight; the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors, which is seeking to improve nuclear reactors through sophisticated computer-based modeling and simulation; and the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings, which is working to achieve major breakthroughs in energy efficient building design.