A Monday ceremony marked the start of construction on a facility near the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center designed to improve battery technology and make electricity transfer more efficient.
The $14 million Battery Innovation Center, or BIC, hopes to break new ground in the military’s development of energy storage technology. BIC President Charles LaSota, a 35-year navy veteran and former Crane commanding officer, says civilian applications are another likely development.
“If you look at energy storage devices, the same things that our military needs in the theater – to be able to have reliable, safe, highly-powered energy storage devices to make their missions effective – our people in the commercial sector need the same thing so the products that they can provide are reliable, will last a long time and won’t cost an arm and a leg,” LaSota says.
The addition of the BIC will extend the WestGate @ Crane research park to the west, moving its boundaries even closer to Interstate 69.
8th District Congressman Larry Bucshon, whose district includes Crane, says the expansion of the park and increased proximity to the new highway should protect the area somewhat from future budget cuts, in part because the BIC fills a key niche for the military.
“One can have the most powerful generators and energy sources available on the planet, but if you don’t have high efficiency and high-performing energy storage capacity, your strategic capacity can be greatly reduced,” Bucshon says.
LaSota says scientists will also do research using a nearby electrical substation, in hopes of creating energy transfer systems which waste less power than current transmission lines. The facility is slated for completion sometime in 2013.