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Bell-Labs-Style Research Center Aims to Cut Battery Costs by 80 Percent

Argonne National Labs was selected to head the $120 million Innovation Hub

Today the Department of Energy established a new, $120 million center for battery research with an ambitious goal of making batteries for electric vehicles and electric grid storage five times cheaper within five years. The center, which will be headquartered at Argonne National Lab near Chicago, is the fourth DOE Innovation Hub, a novel type of research organization at DOE that’s meant to mimic the successful R&D model behind the development of transistors, atomic weapons and radar. The strategy is to put together the “best scientists with the best engineers,” to speed up the process of commercializing advances, says Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who came up with the Hub concept based in part on his time at Bell Labs.

At the Hub, people with experience in industry can help guide scientists toward battery materials that have the potential for scaling up, and engineers can build prototypes out of new materials developed by scientists that could break through the limits of existing materials. Argonne will team up with a handful of universities and with companies, including Dow Chemical, Applied Materials, and Johnson Controls, that bring manufacturing expertise.
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