WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama's team picked Argonne National Lab --in the Chicago suburb of Lemont--for his Friday energy speech because of its research leading to commercial applications for weaning vehicles from oil and gas.
Argonne is one of the Department of Energy's biggest national laboratories, managed by the University of Chicago.
A White House official who briefed reporters on Thursday here said Argonne was chosen for the visit to showcase Obama's package of energy proposals because the scope of the research at the lab "is incredibly wide ranging but for decades now, they have been at the forefront of research focused on high-tech vehicle technology."
Specifically, the official spotlighted Argonne's battery research that started in the early 1990s--at a time when the private sector could not handle the load--that led to advanced battery technology that years later had commercial applications for vehicles in the U.S.
Last November, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Energy Secretary Steven Chu--who is with Obama at Argonne today--and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced "that a multi-partner team led by Argonne National Laboratory has been selected for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish a new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub. The Hub, to be known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), will combine the R&D firepower of five DOE national laboratories, five universities, and four private firms in an effort aimed at achieving revolutionary advances in battery performance. Advancing next generation battery and energy storage technologies for electric and hybrid cars and the electricity grid are a critical part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil and lower energy costs for U.S. consumers.
"The JCESR batteries and energy storage hub gives us a new collaborative, inter-institutional R&D paradigm in which to develop the energy storage technologies that transform both the electricity grid and transportation and so reduce our dependence on foreign oil,' said Eric Isaacs, Director of Argonne National Laboratory.
"The Hub will bring together some of the most advanced energy storage research programs in the U.S. today. Other national labs partnering with Argonne include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. University partners include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and University of Michigan. Four industrial partners have also joined to help clear a path to the marketplace for the advances developed at JCESR, including Dow Chemical Company; Applied Materials, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; and Clean Energy Trust."