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BNL, Stony Brook eye military battery work

Esther Takeuchi heads the advanced energy research at

Esther Takeuchi heads the advanced energy research at Brookhaven National Lab and Stony Brook University to develop a powerful new generation of batteries. Credit: Newsday, 2012 / John Paraskevas

Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University are seeking roughly $20 million in federal funding to help the military develop batteries that would power everything from unmanned vehicles to tactical gear soldiers carry into battle.

The Long Island institutions have proposed forming a partnership with the Department of Defense, offering the expertise of local scientists to develop energy-storage systems to meet the increasingly high-tech needs of today's military.

"Our war fighters are in need of cutting-edge energy solutions, and right now the Department of Defense is lacking," said Sen. Charles Schumer, who with fellow Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, is pushing the Senate Committee on Armed Services to support the proposal.

The lab and university issued a joint statement that they look forward to exploring the proposal with the defense department and appreciate Schumer and Gillibrand's support.

Energy storage has become crucial for the military as troops depend on a widening array of communication devices, computers and other technology on the front line. A 2011 defense department report found the average soldier carries about 50 batteries, weighing nearly 18 pounds. That number, officials said, is expected to grow.

Stony Brook and the lab's goal is to develop lighter, longer-lasting batteries that could be scaled up or down for equipment of all sizes. They must withstand extreme temperatures, from the Arctic to the tropics, and be durable enough to survive the rigors of battle.

BNL and Stony Brook would work in conjunction with the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, a group of companies, academic institutions, utilities and others trying to establish New York as a battery research hub.

Local officials say the Island has two key assets that could enable it to play a major role in energy storage: a deep experience in nanotechnology and Stony Brook and BNL's hiring last year of Esther Takeuchi, an international battery expert.

Takeuchi, who received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in 2009, would lead the military battery project from Stony Brook's Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center.

The push to establish the program comes five months after Brookhaven and Stony Brook fell short in their bid to win a $120-million grant to develop batteries for the Department of Energy.

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