Campus News

UK Energy Research Facility Wins $15 Million in Federal, State Funds

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2010) − The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) has been awarded $11.8 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to expand laboratory facilities and intensify its groundbreaking energy research efforts. This grant is being matched with $3 million from the Commonwealth of Kentucky and $1 million from UK to complete the $15.8 million project. 

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.

“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 Kentucky Gov. Steve 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 biomass and biofuels, advanced distributed power generation and storage, and technologies for electric vehicles. The facility will be constructed at the Spindletop Energy Research Campus and will be adjacent to the UK Center for Applied Energy Research and the Kentucky-Argonne National Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center. 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.

"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 James W. 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." 

Leonard K. Peters, secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, said, "With this new facility, the Commonwealth will realize important synergies and collaboration with the federal laboratory to be located adjacent to CAER. CAER's new research facility will serve well the governor’s goal of developing a viable lithium ion battery manufacturing industry in Kentucky."

“I’d like to congratulate the University of Kentucky on their receipt of the NIST funding and appreciate the cooperative spirit of all the members of the Kentucky-Argonne National Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center,” said Eric Isaacs, laboratory director at the U.S. DOE Argonne National Laboratory. “With a portion of the new CAER facility dedicated to advanced battery research, the partners will have one of the best laboratories in the nation for conducting their work. Dr. Todd and Rodney Andrews are commended for their leadership in seeking this funding.”

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.

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.

The project is expected to be completed by fall 2011.