Published August 23, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
The Energy Systems Network (ESN) broke ground Monday Aug, 20 on the new $14 million Battery Innovation Center facility at the WestGate @ Crane Technology Park.
The 32,000-square-foot facility will serve as the physical hub for a network of industry and research partners focused on making Indiana a leader in developing, commercializing and validating cutting-edge battery technologies.
ESN, the state’s clean technology initiative, has worked with a range of industry partners and academic institutions as well as NSWC Crane to establish the Battery Innovation Center (the ‘BIC’) to meet the research and development, rapid prototyping and contract manufacturing needs of industry, academic and military customers.
The partnership between Crane, a major federal research lab and the Defense Department’s center of excellence for energy storage, and the state’s other research institutions and industry players vaults Indiana into a leadership position in the competition for new business opportunities from the growing advanced battery market.
The new BIC will be constructed in the WestGate section close to the new I-69 interchange that will open later in 2012.
“The push to make electric vehicles a realistic option for more drivers, the implementation of a smarter electric grid, the demand for more powerful electronics throughout our homes, offices and factories – all of these trends and more have kindled a growing demand for high-tech batteries,” said ESN President & CEO Paul Mitchell. “We believe the BIC can position Indiana as a ‘Silicon Valley’ for battery innovation, testing and production – with the epicenter right here in Greene County.”
Last month, the Greene County Council unanimously approved $15.6 million in economic development bonds to support the construction of the BIC facility. Financing was finalized last week, making today’s groundbreaking possible.
The facility design provides all the necessary equipment to allow teams to design, fabricate, package and test complex new energy storage systems and the control/safety systems that support their operation. Once completed, the facility will include a 1,800+ square foot state of the art dry/clean room for lithium ion battery prototype manufacturing; a variety of temperature, humidity and altitude chambers for cell testing; and computer architecture and systems required to support initial cell designs, modeling and simulation, among other advanced equipment.
“The lab will take on a wide variety of cell design and development efforts, harnessing a network of world-class minds and resources to help our partners create the next generation of energy storage solutions,” said BIC President Chuck LaSota. “It will be one of the most advanced testing and prototyping labs in the world. Combined with our members’ R&D capacity, the BIC will be uniquely positioned at the forefront of efforts to expand the range of electric vehicles, supply our military with reliable power in the field, and give homeowners access to a smarter electric grid.”
While waiting for the WestGate facility to come on-line, BIC leadership will continue to raise funds, recruit partners, and use its virtual network to conduct due diligence on several initial projects. BIC’s access to its partners' research assets – including NSWC Crane – will greatly advance the work that will ultimately be undertaken by the new BIC facility.
For the past 18 months, ESN has coordinated efforts with NSWC Crane, RADIUS Indiana and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to develop a detailed business plan and assess potential demand and support for the Center. Dozens of organizations also provided input into the development process, many of which are prospective member institutions of the BIC, such as Cummins, Delphi, the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and Purdue University.