John Tolley, October 3, 2016

Batteries are ubiquitous in everyday life, from the tiniest varieties that charge hearing aids to massive, monolithic versions that can provide auxiliary power to things like telephonic relays and tactical submarines. More than likely you have a rechargeable battery in your pocket right now, or in the laptop on which you?re reading this. Yet, for all the once unthinkable technological advances batteries have afforded us, they?re something we don?t often think much about.

Not so at the University of Michigan?s Battery Fabrication and Characterization facility, a brand new, state of the art laboratory and proving ground for the batteries that will power tomorrow. Funded jointly by Ford Motor Company, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and UM, the cutting-edge facility allows researchers from academia and industry access to production equipment for a variety of battery types. According to the lab?s website, the facility fills a need in the industry for pilot production and testing of batteries and related materials in both large and small scale applications. Proximity is also a key asset of the lab with its stated goal of ?developing cheaper and longer lasting energy-storage devices in the heart of the U.S. auto industry.?

Speaking with the UM News Service, Dr. Greg Less, director of the lab, says that current research in the field is hampered by a lack of large-scale laboratory space. By providing such a space, researchers at the Battery Lab will be able to collect more in-depth and accurate data. And that, says Less, could lead to a breakthrough in battery power,

?We?re giving people the ability to make batteries better and faster than they would be able to do otherwise. That?s really the key. It would be really awesome if some company were to develop a next-generation battery, and we come to find out their initial work was done here at the Battery Lab. That would be a dream come true.?

Attracting a host of chemists and engineers eager to put their ideas to the test, the facility is booked solid into 2017. For a detailed look inside the Battery Lab, check out UM?s video here.