U-Michigan part of $120M DoE battery research hub

November 30, 2012
  • umichnews@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR – A dozen University of Michigan researchers will play an integral role in a national multimillion-dollar collaborative effort to develop breakthrough batteries for longer-range electric vehicles and a power grid that can store electricity generated from solar and wind energy.


U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced today that the Department of Energy will establish the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) with an award of up to $120 million over five years. Argonne National Laboratory will lead JCESR, and U-M is one of five universities, five DOE national laboratories and four private firms involved. U-M’s portion of the grant is $7 million.

“This hub is aimed at breakthroughs in battery technology for energy storage, because step-out advances are needed to reach the energy densities desired for both automotive and grid storage applications,” said Mark Barteau, director of the Michigan Energy Institute, and the DTE Energy Professor of Advanced Energy Research in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

U-M researchers in engineering and chemistry will work to advance next-generation technologies by simulating new materials, building them, understanding how those materials work and then constructing large-scale prototypes. Advancing battery and energy storage technologies for electric and hybrid cars and the electricity grid are a critical part of President Obama’s strategy to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and lower energy costs for U.S. consumers.

“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,” Chu said. “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.”

The hub brings together some of the most advanced energy storage research programs in the U.S. today. In addition to Argonne, other national lab partners include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Other university partners include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago and University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. The four industrial partners are Dow Chemical Company; Applied Materials, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; and Clean Energy Trust.

U-M professors involved are:

  • Levi Thompson, the Richard E. Balzhiser Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering, director of the Hydrogen Energy Technology Laboratory and professor of chemical engineering and mechanical engineering
  • Bart Bartlett, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Charles Monroe, assistant professor of chemical engineering
  • Melanie Sanford, the Moses Gomberg Collegiate Professor of Chemistry in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Emmanuelle Marquis, Dow Corning Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Johannes Schwank, the James and Judith Street Professor of Chemical Engineering
  • Alice Eleanor Sylvia Sleightholme, assistant research scientist in chemical engineering
  • Donald Siegel, assistant professor of mechanical engineering
  • Katsuyo Thornton, associate professor of materials science and engineering
  • Anton van der Ven, associate professor of materials science and engineering
  • Jyoti Mazumder, Robert H. Lurie Professor of Mechanical Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering
  • Jack Hu, the J. Reid and Polly Anderson Professor of Manufacturing Technology, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering, as well as industrial and operations engineering

JCESR is one of several DoE Energy Innovation Hubs, major integrated research centers involving many different institutions and technical backgrounds that combine basic and applied research with engineering to accelerate scientific discovery in critical energy areas. They are modeled after the strong scientific management characteristics of the Manhattan Project, Lincoln Lab at MIT that developed radar, AT&T Bell Laboratories that developed the transistor and, more recently, the highly successful Bioenergy Research Centers established during the Bush Administration to pioneer advanced techniques in biotechnology, including biofuels.