Brookhaven National Laboratory is one of four institutions that will share $5.25 million to develop a superconducting magnet energy storage system to help harness renewable energy, officials at the Upton-based lab said.

The institutions will receive $4.2 million in grants and another $1.05 million in matching funds. BNL's share will be about $2 million.

"This exciting project is aimed at providing novel technologies for grid-scale energy storage solutions," said Jim Misewich, BNL's associate laboratory director for Basic Energy Sciences. "Such technologies are a key element in ensuring reliable operation of the 21st century electric grid and for the integration of renewable sources to reduce our carbon footprint."

Peter Johnson, chairman of BNL's Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department, called the grant "a significant amount" of money "that will allow us to make serious inroads into research in this new technology."

The award is one of 43, totaling $92 million, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

BNL researchers plan to use the funds to help create a system that would allow scientists to use wind and solar power more effectively to help reduce the country's reliance on such energy sources as coal, natural gas and oil.

"We are intending to build a large-scale solar farm to explore its potential in the Northeast," Johnson said, and create technology that "will allow us to explore the capabilities further. It will smooth out the ups and downs in the supply" of energy from wind and sun.

The researchers said such projects are potential "game changers" for the country's electrical grid. Superconducting magnetic energy storage systems harness energy with near-zero energy loss, and have a nearly infinite cycle life, they said.

The other institutions sharing the grant are ABB Inc. of Cary, N.C., SuperPower Inc. of Schenectady and the University of Houston.

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