successful proposals, assemble a team to evaluate proposals, and make a selection.” Another factor is that the electric-vehicle battery community is fairly small, Mr. Howell said.
The DOE also is “trying open up opportunities for new ideas, even in the research area,” Mr. Howell said. The exploratory research program puts out requests for proposals in a new area each year. In 2009, the topic was electrolytes. In 2010, it was new anode materials. In 2011, the topic will be new cathode materials, he said. The program circulates funding announcements through the usual contracting agencies at the DoE, he said.
Mr. Howell said he plans to issue a major Funding Opportunity Announcement in 2010. “This will be a significant opportunity for industry,” he said. It will target three areas. One topic for batteries will be next-generation chemistries at the cell level approaching 300 kilowatt hours per kilogram, he said. Another will be for low-cost technologies, such as ultra-capacitors, “anything that can drive the cost down in these batteries,” he said. A third topic is design optimization, such as packaging or thermal management technologies that can cut packaging cost.
Over the next few years, Mr. Howell said he is looking to put $45 million of DOE funds into such research. “So there is quite a bit of opportunity for industry to participate in free and open competition.”
In terms of international competition, Mr. Howell noted that Japan obviously is putting a lot of R&D money into lithium-ion batteries for vehicles as well as the grid. The Chinese “are coming on strong, not necessarily with a lot of R&D, but with a lot of start-up companies and government support for commercialization of technologies,” he said.
The Koreans have “some major players” in the battery industry “and the government certainly puts in money to support that industry,” Mr. Howell said. In Europe, “there have been spots of money here and there for research” in electrochemistry, he said. “The Europeans are starting to come on strong in battery development, recognizing how competitive it’s going to be over the next decade.” The Germans and French in particular are investing aggressively.
Dr. Wessner commented that all of these issues should be explored further.
An audience member asked Mr. Howell if there is a timeline for releasing the $45 million funding announcement.
The Recovery Act “has kind of swamped our funding agents,” Mr. Howell replied. “If I don’t have Recovery Act on my first slide then they aren’t going to talk to me this fiscal year.” He said Recovery Act funds must be awarded by September 30, 2010. He said he hoped to publish the funding announcement in late September. “It is important to a lot more than just the battery program,” Mr. Howell said. “Other than that, I really can’t give you any concrete timeframe or date the announcement will be made. But be prepared. I already told you what is in it, and I’m not planning to change that.”
Larry Drzal of Michigan State asked Mr. Howell to explain the $34 million for FY 2011 for a “battery and energy storage hub.”