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NC State Researchers Receive $1.3 Million to Study Advanced Battery Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $1.3 million to faculty in North Carolina State University’s Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center to improve the batteries that help power plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The research is being led by Dr. Xiangwu Zhang, assistant professor of textile engineering in NC State’s College of Textiles. Drs. Alex Huang, the FREEDM Systems Center director, Peter S. Fedkiw and Saad A. Khan, all of the College of Engineering at NC State, are also participating in the study.

The grant was part of the federal agency’s recent $11 million investment in research, development and demonstration of projects that involve electric drive vehicle battery technologies.

The grant will support research into the development and use of electrospinning technology to integrate lithium alloy and carbon into novel composite nanofiber anodes, which hold more energy, cost less and tolerate abuse better than materials found in existing batteries. Nanofiber anodes can be easily produced in large numbers, which could help reduce the demand for imported petroleum, decrease emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, and enable the U.S. transportation industry to sustain a strong position in the global marketplace.

Formed in 2008 by a five-year, $18.5 million Engineering Research Center grant from the National Science Foundation, the FREEDM Systems Center, headquartered on NC State’s Centennial Campus, is developing ways to speed renewable electric-energy technologies into every home and business. The center’s research, education and outreach team includes energy experts from seven universities in the United States and Europe.