Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Governor Beshear Announces Federal Funding for New Research Facility at the University of Kentucky

Press Release Date:  Monday, January 11, 2010  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Jill Midkiff

Funding will support Kentucky’s efforts to be a leader in battery technologies of the future

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today announced that the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) has been awarded an $11.8 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to expand laboratory facilities and intensify energy research efforts, including research into advanced battery technology for plug-in hybrid vehicles at the Kentucky-Argonne National Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center.

“I see this as a major boost to augment and supplement the state’s initiative in the area of advanced battery research and development and greatly supports the Kentucky-Argonne National Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center I announced in April 2009,” said Gov. Beshear. “The funding also supports our efforts to become a leader in the production and use of biomass for biofuels and electricity generation. A cornerstone of my administration is to make Kentucky an energy leader, to ensure energy security, economic competiveness and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The grant provides funding to significantly expand the center's research capabilities with a new 36,000-square-foot building dedicated to research in the biomass and biofuels industries, advanced distributed power generation and storage and technologies for electric vehicles.  The facility will be constructed at the Spindletop Research site in Lexington, Ky.

The project cost totals $15.8 million, including a $3 million investment from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The new facility will include labs for process development, prototype manufacturing and testing to support applied research on batteries, capacitors, solar energy materials and biofuels.  A portion of the new facility will be equipped specifically for capacitor and battery manufacturing research. The Kentucky Biofuels Laboratory, an analytical laboratory managed as an open access user facility, will also be located within the new expansion.

“We are delighted with the center’s success in winning this grant, particularly during these lean economic times,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr.  “Our ability to achieve Top 20 status requires developing state-of-the-art research facilities such as this new research building to support the university’s research mission.  Clearly, CAER is pushing UK and Kentucky forward in the energy R&D critical to this state.”

“In keeping with the purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the facility will provide long-term economic benefits many times over and above the federal investment that will accrue from UK’s research enterprise,” said UK Vice President for Research Jim Tracy. “We can expect new business development and job creation around the state.  This new facility will allow UK to place a critical mass of faculty, research staff and infrastructure at the Spindletop Research site to better focus on this primary energy research.”

The project is expected to be completed by fall 2011.

In December, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority also awarded another $3.5 million in funding for equipment purchases for the battery R&D center.

“The NIST award to the University of Kentucky is excellent news because it moves the national Battery Manufacturing R&D Center closer to completion,” Argonne Director Eric Isaacs said. “Most importantly for the nation, when this center opens for business it will help deploy a domestic supply of battery technology that will be critical to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the economy.”

Established 30 years ago, the CAER is a multidisciplinary research center focusing on energy-related industries particularly important to the state of Kentucky.  In addition to well-known research programs in support of the coal and electric power industries, the center has expanded over time to address issues in carbon management, electrochemical energy storage, biomass energy and biofuels, and other renewable energy systems such as photovoltaic and thermoelectric power.

NIST, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, has a mission to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

Argonne National Laboratory, near Chicago, is a multi-disciplinary federal research facility with over 1,000 scientists and engineers and an annual operating budget of over $600 million. The Lab’s many roles include serving as the nation’s lead research facility for transportation-related R&D, including basic and applied research on advanced materials and diagnostics for electrodes and cells; modeling battery life expectancy and electrochemical cell design and performance; and testing cell and battery systems.

The Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center is a partnership of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville established to advance the science and engineering of manufacturing technology for advanced batteries, including lithium-ion batteries for vehicle applications.  The center, located in Lexington, Ky., aims to become the leading research and development institution in the United States for inventing and developing new manufacturing processes for lithium-ion battery cells.  Improving manufacturing process technology for lithium-ion cells is critical to increasing the energy density and lowering the cost of lithium-ion batteries.