The Department of Defense (DoD) has allocated $30 million to fund the development of an energy storage systems campus in Texas, as part of its efforts to promote next-generation battery manufacturing in the United States. The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) and a consortium of other organizations will receive the funding over a three-year period to establish the Batteries and Energy to Advance Commercialization and National Security (BEACONS) center.
The BEACONS center will focus on three main goals: optimizing existing lithium-ion battery technology, accelerating the path to next-generation batteries, and ensuring a steady supply of materials required for battery production in the US. In addition, the center will emphasize the development of a skilled workforce capable of supporting these goals. Workforce development programs are expected to commence in approximately one year.
The future BEACONS center will be built on a 1,200-acre plot in Richardson, Texas. It will feature space for the development of next-generation battery technology as well as small-scale manufacturing facilities. The DoD envisions the facility as being dual-use, serving both defense and commercial purposes. It will include specialized lab space tailored to defense applications, capable of operating in extreme temperatures, high shock and vibration, and prolonged periods of storage.
The facilities in Richardson are set to begin opening in six to nine months, with a phased approach. A small-scale manufacturing facility, capable of producing various battery types, is expected to open within 18 months. The BEACONS center will prioritize research and development of safer, more efficient, and longer-lasting alternatives to lithium-ion batteries. It will explore solid-state batteries and aqueous zinc-ion batteries made from abundant materials, while also maximizing the potential of existing lithium-ion technology.
The investment by the DoD aims to support the domestic manufacture of lithium-ion cells and battery packs for defense and advanced commercial systems. It aligns with the Biden administration’s focus on revitalizing energy technology industries and bolstering national security through domestic manufacturing and supply chain resilience.
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