U-M Opens World-Class Battery Research Lab

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March 9, 2016 | Originally published by Date Line: March 9 on

Ford and Michigan Economic Development Corp. partner to create open innovation laboratory.

ANN ARBOR—The opening of the University of Michigan Energy Institute”s Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility, or Battery Lab, today further expands the Midwest”s rapidly growing battery research and manufacturing capabilities.

The open-access lab will provide space to build and test battery concepts while fully protecting the intellectual property of its users. The lab”s capabilities have already attracted global user interest from startups, established corporations and academics.

The facility is funded with a $2 million investment from U-M, with $5 million in additional financial support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and $2.1 million from Ford Motor Co. Sourcing, constructing and installing the lab”s customized research environment—including a low-humidity “dry room”— took 18 months.

During the past two decades, battery technology has progressed slowly while the devices they power—from cell phones to cars to medical implants—have changed wildly. Researchers have been exploring ways to make batteries lighter, more efficient, safer and more cost-effective but, so far, commercialization of new battery technologies has proven elusive.

“We feel confident that we”ve built the nation”s most complete, customized battery research open-user facility. This infrastructure investment is key to achieving the breakthroughs needed to make both electric vehicles and grid storage viable at all the scales needed for the future,” said Mark Barteau, director of the U-M Energy Institute.