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Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Ann Arbor will house new federally funded advanced battery hub

By Ben Freed

A new federally funded advanced battery center satellite office in Ann Arbor likely will be announced Friday, keeping the city at the forefront of new battery technology, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The story quotes sources that say the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research will open offices in Ann Arbor and Holland, Mich.


A123 Systems and other battery companies have been attracted by the talent and automotive expertise available in Southeastern Michigan.

Photo courtesy of A123 Systems

According to the report, the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, the lab that developed the technology used in the Chevy Volt battery, will host the center. The Department of Energy will commit $120 million over five years to the project, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has also promised $5 million.

Ann Arbor is no stranger to the battery and energy storage field. Sakti3, T/J Technologies, and the recently bankrupt A123 Systems all have been on the cutting edge of developing new batteries for automotive and other uses.

Funding for the center and the satellite offices comes from this year’s congressional appropriations bill. Debbie Stabenow D-Mich. had proposed similar hubs in a Battery Innovation Act that failed to pass during the previous congressional session.

Click here to read the full report from the Detroit Free Press.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

Whoa, Whoa, I thought we DIDN"T like 'corporate welfare here in Oz. What's up with this? Oh, I get it, we DO like to pick winners and losers. ....Although between Solyndra and A123, it seems like we pick the losers and just throw money at them.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 6 p.m.

The winners in the American auto industry were the union, who got a significant share of both GM and Chrysler. The losers were the American taxpayers and the GM bondholders, who were illegally passed over in favor of the UAW. And despite the huge federal bailout of GM, their profits this year are less than Ford, Toyota, or Volkswagon. The taxpayers will break even on GM stock at $51 per share; currently it's trading for about half of that. At least the Chevy Volt is taking off...NOT.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

And what do subsidized loans to established companies have to do with funding fundamental scientific research?


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 4:35 a.m.

Or winners like the American auto industry ?


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

Should we spend the $120 million on battery R&D or should we split it up so every resident of Ann Arbor gets about a million dollars each?


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:31 a.m.

Impressive math skills.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 10:21 p.m.

I can understand the fed funding because they just don't understand anything about jobs, business and how business works. It's the "hope and change" ideology: hope it works, here's some change. They just don't seem to understand if the product appears to be profitable, investors will fund it. What is startling is the state funding another company that requires subsidies to operate. A waste of taxpayers money that is needed elsewhere.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

I didn't say every drug Ricardo, I said most. Even those that are not directly discovered in an academic lab are still the result of federal research funding to drug companies. Again, investors do not fund fundamental research. They fund when they can make a reasonable estimate of future profits. You appear to believe that private companies receive funding from private investors and that's not true. The federal government funds virtually all fundamental research in both academia and the private sector, whether it be for technology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical, or virtually anything else. Without fundamental research you can't even begin to consider the marketability of anything.

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

As an example Alan, the fed's gave A123 another million DAYS before they went under. We cannot blindly trust the DOE to do the right thing. And I'll take exception that every drug comes out of academia.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 4:34 a.m.

And the research done at NASA over decades has likewise transferred significant technology to the private sector, on top of those mentioned by Alan. Almost all scientific research is paid for or subsidized by the Government.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

No, virtually every major innovation has come from research. Investors generally jump in at the point that the probability of profitability becomes sufficiently large. The computer that you're typing on, your web browser and internet, the vaccines that prevented you from contracting deadly diseases, most of the drugs that help to cure you, technology that prevents your food from spoiling, as well as myriad other inventions that make your life better were all funded with federal research dollars, not private investment.

Ron Granger

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

"The Department of Energy will commit $120 million over five years to the project, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has also promised $5 million." That should just about cover the executive salaries and bonuses. But how will they fund the golden parachutes? ;-)

Top Cat

Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

Electric cars have been the next great thing in automobile technology since 1903. Free markets know better than to fund this folly.


Thu, Nov 29, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Many advances in technology were successfully developed only after a number of failures. To any of those who would whine & complain & bitterly oppose any of this, i have but one piece of advice... sit down and shut up, there are more serious people at work doing things you'd never have thought possible.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

You appear confused also Ricardo. Bell labs began with an award from the French government for the invention of the telephone. For many decades they were one of the largest recipients of federal research grants, primarily from the DOD. The transistor, as well as microwave technology, are the result of federal research funding. Investors don't just fund fundamental research. These are both cases of guys tinkering in their garages after work until they actually had something worth funding. In Edison's case he was able to secure investors after he had something (I think it had to do with the telegraph), and in the case of Bell Labs, it was purely driven by government funding, not private investment.

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Alan. Ever hear of Bell Lab's? While researching microwave technology they made important discovery's that led to the Big Bang theory (no, not the TV show).


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

Sorry my sarcasm didn't come through. The I think not meant - 'jeez arguably the most prolific inventor, with his own research park seemed to get it done without government help.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 3:01 a.m.

You're kidding eyeheart? Edison funded his research with the sale of his first invention. Nobody invested a dime in him until he had something profitable.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 2:25 a.m.

"Private capital can not be used for fundamental research" - Thomas Edison? - I think not.


Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

I hear this a lot Ricardo. Private capital can not be used for fundamental research because nobody can make any estimate at all of probability of success or time horizon. You can't sell an investment if you can't make any estimate of return.

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

If it is such a good idea why isn't private capital being used. A123 was a joke that not only fleeced the Department of Energy but also many individuals who invested in that fallacy of a company.