New Center Will Work With Companies and Universities to Develop Next Generation Batteries and Capacitors
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Rochester Institute of Technology is unveiling its new Battery Prototyping Center, a $1.5 million state-of-the-art facility that will conduct research and work with companies statewide in this rapidly growing industry. The center is part of a plan to create a battery and energy storage hub in the region, a priority of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. RIT’s Battery Prototyping Center was made possible by support from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST) and Empire State Development (ESD), the state’s economic development agency.
“This project is a top priority of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and shows what can be possible when private industry partners with New York’s world-class research universities,” Governor Cuomo said. “This facility will be a vital resource for companies across the country and will make help cement Rochester’s status as the epicenter of next generation energy storage.”
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, RIT offered tours and hosted nearly 50 industry executives for a workshop on how they can use the new center. The center, located in RIT’s Institute Hall, will work with companies on prototyping the next generation of rechargeable batteries (such as lithium ion) in an industry-recognized size typical of that used in consumer electronics, including cell phones. While ultimate applications for these new batteries will include electric grid and transportation storage, this size is a recognized standard for testing and evaluating new prototypes. Companies can either use the laboratory’s equipment to conduct their own trials or hire RIT to do the work.
Several companies have already inquired about working in the RIT Battery Prototyping Center, which will be directed by RIT Research Scientists Christopher Schauerman and Matt Ganter. They will also conduct grant-funded research at the center, and will be developing a course to train students in the growing battery industry and educate faculty on the lab’s capabilities.
The center consists of conference, office and storage space, as well as a state-of-the art dry room, the industry’s equivalent of a “clean room,” where batteries can be manufactured. Moisture and humidity are very damaging to battery performance, so the dry environment—less than 0.5 percent relative humidity—is essential. The batteries can be fabricated on the semi-automated prototyping equipment line, which greatly improves quality and the ability to replicate the product, compared to batteries made by hand in a laboratory. The batteries can then be tested in one of two environmental chambers where their performance can be measured under a variety of conditions, including extreme heat and cold.
The center has been designed to be flexible so that it can adapt as battery technologies change, as well as to accommodate prototyping larger batteries, such as those used in electric grid and transportation applications.
Much of the equipment in the Battery Prototyping Center was manufactured by SoLith, an Italian company specializing in battery manufacturing testing equipment.
“The Battery Prototyping Center at RIT will unlock the far-reaching potential of New York State’s businesses, providing them access to a resource in the field of energy storage that will result in new development and commercialization of those technologies,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. “By promoting greater academic-industry R&D partnerships, New York State is fully committed to providing the support necessary to help businesses compete, innovate, and thrive in a 21st century economy.”
Vice President for Research and associate provost Ryne Raffaelle said, “The Battery Prototyping Center at RIT will be a tremendous resource to startups, established companies and researchers seeking to prototype a wide range of battery materials. We are proud to be part of the growing energy storage ecosystem in New York State and grateful to our partners at NY-BEST, NYSERDA and ESD for their support in making this facility a reality.”
President and CEO of NYSERDA John B. Rhodes said, “RIT’s Battery Prototyping Center highlights Governor Cuomo’s commitment to developing a clean energy ecosystem in the Finger Lakes region that is providing compelling solutions to the challenges of energy storage. The Center will provide companies throughout New York State, from start-ups to those already established, the ability to test and prototype the most promising battery materials and accelerate our path to a cleaner, more affordable and more reliable energy system.”
Executive Director of NY-BEST William Acker said, “NY-BEST is delighted to partner with New York state and RIT on the new Battery Prototyping Center. The new center will complement the services provided at the BEST Test and Commercialization Center and provide needed prototyping capabilities to companies, researchers, and entrepreneurs who are working to advance the battery industry. By filling critical gaps in the product development and commercialization process, the center will become an important component of the state’s robust battery and energy storage ecosystem, and further support the growth of this burgeoning global industry in New York state.”
Acting President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development Howard Zemsky said, “The new Battery Prototyping center will serve as a bridge between academic research in the field of energy storage and the development and commercialization of these technologies. Congratulations to RIT on this milestone and I’m looking forward to the new economic opportunities that its center creates.”
General Manager of SoLith Alessandro Fossemo said, “SoLith is a proud sponsor in the RIT Lithium Ion Battery Prototype and Pilot production line. We are pleased that our vision of enhancing progress in battery research by putting advanced manufacturing tools in the hands of innovative researchers has found a home at RIT, a world leader in science, engineering, and industrial innovation.”
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “RIT’s new Battery Prototyping Center will be a tremendous asset that further strengthens our region’s position as a global leader in innovative energy research and development. Today’s announcement is yet another important step forward for our economy and I thank RIT for its leadership and commitment to making the Prototyping Center a reality.”
Senator Joe Robach said, “Every job is critically important for the Rochester region and our economy. RIT is the perfect location for this Battery Prototyping Center thanks in large part to its knowledgeable faculty and staff, and the incredible talent pool of students. This will not only create jobs for our local workforce, it will also help solidify Rochester as New York’s leader in energy innovation.”
Senator Patrick M. Gallivan said, “This state of the art facility provides an opportunity for Rochester and the entire state to become a leader in research and development in battery and energy technology. Capitalizing on this rapidly growing market will strengthen New York¹s economy by growing businesses and creating jobs.”
Assemblyman Harry B. Bronson said, “This facility is a giant step toward the future and I applaud Rochester Institute of Technology and their Kate Gleason College of Engineering and Golisano Institute for Sustainability, the partnership of NYSERDA, NY-BEST and ESD and the industrial partners across the state whose goal is designing and implementing cutting-edge energy storage that will benefit the public, the nation and our economy and families. This partnership bolsters RIT’s leadership in the development of energy storage that will increase economic competitiveness. RIT’s research will keep our next generation competitive in a global environment.”
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