FRANKFORT Ky. (Feb. 14, 2014) – Ford Motor Co. has awarded a $120,000 grant for automotive battery research to the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research Center, state officials announced today.
The University Research Project grant will be used to study the preparation of materials used in making electrodes. The goal is to lower the cost, shorten the development cycle, and improve the quality and performance of future batteries. It’s the first such grant given to the commonwealth from Ford for research and development.
“Ford is showing tremendous faith in our workforce to not only assemble its vehicles, but also to make them even more innovative and efficient,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Advanced batteries continue to play a significant role in the energy and economic security of the United States, and Kentucky is leading the charge. I’m confident this grant will mark the first of many more research opportunities to come.”
The three-year study will be conducted through the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center in Lexington and the University of Kentucky.
“We are focusing the research here on how the battery electrodes are made,” said Ted Miller, Ford senior manager of energy storage and materials strategy and research. “Today, we use a slurry powder and apply it over a thin film of aluminium or copper. Once the slurry dries, the electrodes are wound up to make a cylindrical cell. The trick is in making the slurry uniform and applying it evenly. The more evenly we can apply a uniform slurry mix, the better the performance. Our collaboration with the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center is an important piece of the battery technology puzzle.”
University of Kentucky professor Y.T. Cheng will lead the research.
“The Ford project presents some unique challenges and opportunities to advance state-of-the-art battery manufacturing research and development, and training in Kentucky,” Cheng said.
Since opening in 2012, the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Center works with industries, universities and federal labs that specialize in battery research and develop programs. The center’s aim is to re-establish the United States as a world leader in battery manufacturing technologies. The facility is located within the Kentucky Energy Research Complex in Lexington. Other industrial research partners include Kentucky-based companies such as Hitachi, Toyota, Arkema, n-Gimat and NOHMs.
“We appreciate the confidence Ford has put in us to partner with them in the area of developing the technology for vehicle electrification,” said Dr. Tony Hancock, executive director of the Kentucky-Argonne Center. “This is yet one more step toward realizing Gov. Beshear’s dream of making Kentucky a leader in battery technology. Performing this original research will advance state-of the-art lithium ion battery production.”
This is the latest in a series of Ford announcements in Kentucky. Last month, Ford announced plans to boost production capacity at the Kentucky Truck Plant (KTP) to meet surging demand for F-Series Super Duty trucks. The increase will create 350 new jobs and an $80 million investment. Ford employs nearly 8,400 Kentuckians at KTP and the Louisville Assembly Plant.