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A new $1.5 million center at Rochester Institute of Technology will help companies small and large move new battery technologies out of their labs and toward commercial production.

State and school officials unveiled RIT's Battery Prototyping Center last week. The facility, headed by RIT research scientists Christopher Schauerman and Matt Ganter, will work with companies that have new battery technologies or materials to first build prototypes and then analyze the batteries' performance.

The lab is linked with the New York Battery and Energy Storage Consortium, which is made up of companies in the energy storage industry, utility companies, and state agencies. NY-BEST runs a commercialization center at Eastman Business Park, and that operation will work with the RIT center.

The idea, Schauerman says, is to help ensure that technology conceived in New York is further developed here.

"It's all about completing this ecosystem in Rochester," Ganter says.

The facility is set up to make batteries in an industry-standard size that would be used in consumer devices, including cell phones. That battery size is also used widely for performance testing, and the technologies could ultimately be scaled up for use in vehicles or for storing grid electricity.

One of the center's key features is a "dry room" where batteries can be manufactured and where relative humidity is controlled. Moisture and humidity can cause problems during the prototype manufacturing process.

The center also has two environmental chambers, which will allow the batteries to be tested under various conditions, including extreme cold and heat. Much of the performance testing, however, will occur at the NY-BEST commercialization center, Schauerman and Ganter say.

Half of the facility's cost was covered through New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Empire State Development funding via NY-BEST.


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