Clean Vehicle Tech Focus Of New U.S.-China Research Center

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A partnership to advance technologies for clean energy vehicles led by the University of Michigan will receive $12.5 million over the next five years under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced.

The consortium members will match this funding to provide at least $25 million in total funding over the next five years. The money will facilitate joint research and development on clean-energy technologies by the U.S. and China.

UM will lead that consortium that includes Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sandia National Laboratories, Joint BioEnergy Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, Cummins, Fraunhofer, MAGNET, A123, American Electric Power, First Energy and the UM Transportation Research Center.

The consortium will focus on vehicle electrification.

The Clean Energy Research Center on Clean Vehicles is to be the premier U.S.-China Center of Excellence that generates the innovation and intellectual foundation for a timely, progressive transformation of vehicle fuel systems toward low fuel consumption and carbon neutrality, said Dennis Assanis, director of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and principal investigator of the project. This requires scientific discoveries as well as their translation into technologies and scalable systems.

Collaboration between the United States and China — the largest vehicle markets and the largest greenhouse gas-emitters — is essential to develop the most effective clean vehicle technologies, regional fueling strategies and effective policies.

“This unprecedented public-private partnership across international boundaries is a model for how to tackle the grand energy challenges we are facing on a global scale,” Assanis said. “We have been inspired by the promise this powerful partnership holds and proud of the unique strength of the University of Michigan, a strength based on collaboration and a sweeping base of world-class expertise across disciplines.”

Added Gov. Jennifer Granholm in a statement: “The University of Michigan is the perfect choice to advance technologies for clean vehicles. As part of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, the university will build on the state’s leadership in advanced battery manufacturing and electric vehicle technology and help to advance this important sector.”

West Virginia University will lead a consortium of equal funding that will develop and test new technologies for carbon capture and sequestration. The funding will be matched by the grantees to provide at least $50 million in total U.S. funding and will facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by the United States and China. Chinese counterparts will contribute an additional $50 million, with combined funding from both countries totaling $100 million.

“This funding is a clear sign that Michigan’s research, educational and industrial institutions are and will continue to be at the forefront of clean vehicle technologies,” said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. “This funding boosts research that will further advance the nation’s goals in clean energy manufacturing and it will help secure Michigan as the world leader in clean energy vehicles, helping to bring jobs and long-term investment to our state.”

Added U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.: “This investment will help give our American auto industry the tools to create the clean energy vehicles of tomorrow. The University of Michigan was a natural choice for this effort because of their leadership in advanced technology innovation. Combining Michigan’s academic expertise with our manufacturing know-how will help create opportunities for Michigan companies to export new products, increase sales, and create new jobs.”

And U.S. Rep John Dingell said: “The Department of Energy is making a wise investment today. The University of Michigan is a world leader in energy research and will be a credit to the Department of Energy and the United States. Strong investments in advanced technologies for clean vehicles will not only help us deal with issues like climate change, but will lead to numerous export opportunities for our manufacturers right here at home. Investments like this will ensure the United States remains on the cutting edge of energy technology — and we can afford no less.”

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao formally announced the establishment of the CERC during the president’s trip to Beijing last November. At the time, Secretary Chu joined Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang and Chinese National Energy Administrator Zhang Guobao to sign the protocol launching the center.

As the world’s top energy consumers, energy producers and greenhouse gas-emitters, the United States and China will play central roles in the world’s transition to a clean energy economy in the years ahead.

$25 million in Chinese funding will support Chinese researchers and institutions that will collaborate closely with U.S. award winners and their partners. Chinese partners will be announced in the coming months by the Chinese government.

The Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education at the University of Michigan.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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