Science & Technology
Team Led by Argonne National Lab Selected as DOE’s Advanced Battery and Energy Storage Hub PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Friday, 30 November 2012 15:54

Energy Department Announces Team to Receive up to $120 Million Over 5 Years

CHICAGO – November 30, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn was joined today by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce that a multi-partner team led by Argonne National Laboratory has been selected for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish a new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub. The Hub, to be known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), will combine the R&D firepower of five DOE national laboratories, five universities, and four private firms in an effort aimed at achieving revolutionary advances in battery performance. Advancing next generation battery and energy storage technologies for electric and hybrid cars and the electricity grid are a critical part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and lower energy costs for U.S. consumers.

Governor Quinn is providing $5 million through his Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction plan to help build the state-of-the-art JCESR facility, which will be located on the Argonne National Laboratory campus in suburban Chicago. Additionally, the governor has committed to working with the General Assembly to provide an additional $30 million in future capital funding for the building, which will serve as a nationwide center for energy storage research and is a key part of the governor’s plan to create jobs and grow Illinois’ economy through cutting-edge innovation.

“Illinois is the birthplace of innovations that have changed the world, including the web browser, the cell phone and the ultrasound,” Governor Quinn said. “As I highlighted during my State of the State address, this innovative center will attract the best minds from across our state and country to turn cutting-edge scientific research into new companies that will create more American jobs and revolutionize our energy economy.”

“This is a partnership between world leading scientists and world leading companies, committed to ensuring that the advanced battery technologies the world needs will be invented and built right here in America,” said Secretary Chu.  “Based on the tremendous advances that have been made in the past few years, there are very good reasons to believe that advanced battery technologies can and will play an increasingly valuable role in strengthening America’s energy and economic security by reducing our oil dependence, upgrading our aging power grid, and allowing us to take greater advantage of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar.”

“This new Hub brings together, under a single organizational roof, the world’s leading scientists, engineers and manufacturers in energy storage and provides them with the tools, resources and market reach necessary to produce major breakthroughs,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.  “The large-scale, innovative research and transformational new battery systems that will result from this venture will mean more effective, lower cost and longer life energy storage technologies with real world applications for anything that can use a rechargeable battery.  The project promises to have a significant economic impact across Illinois with the help of towns and businesses who have already agreed to partner on the commercialization of promising technology developed at the Hub.”

“The research at the Energy Storage Hub has the potential to revolutionize the energy industry," said U.S. Senator Mark Kirk. "From transportation to the electric grid, the Hub will bring the private sector, national labs and universities together to deliver new technologies and scientific approaches needed to transform the battery and energy storage industry and spur commercial innovation.  The Hub at Argonne will help boost our local economy and create new jobs. Today's announcement further establishes Illinois and Argonne as a leader in this growing industry."

"Argonne has a long tradition of exceptional leadership on energy research, and the DOE's selection of Argonne for this exciting project will cement its role as the nation's leading facility for advanced battery technology,” said Representative Judy Biggert (IL-13). “Most importantly, this project will give scientists and researchers the best environment in which to develop the next generation of energy storage to power our homes, cars, and industries in the decades to come. I applaud the team at Argonne on winning the project, and I thank my colleagues from across the Midwest who worked with us to make it happen."

"This award sets up Argonne National Laboratory to be the world leader in an emerging field that will promote American energy independence, make green energy more available and affordable, and grow manufacturing in the region,” said Representative Dan Lipinski (IL-03). “I believe this new facility will bring a significant return on the investment for our nation and especially for the communities around Argonne.”

“Since taking office, I have been focused on making Chicago the electric vehicle and batteries capital of the nation,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This includes creating incentives to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, attracting companies to manufacture electric vehicles, and now, working with Argonne to make sure that Chicago is at the epicenter of research on this subject. All of these pieces fit together into a comprehensive strategy that will allow Chicago to lead in this industry, from conception to construction to implementation. I will continue to work to attract more companies, create more jobs and foster more economic development in this crucial space.”

The new Hub will integrate efforts at several successful independent research programs into a larger, coordinated effort designed to push the limits on battery advances.  Advancements in batteries and energy storage technology are essential for continued efforts to develop a fundamentally new energy economy with decisively reduced dependence on imported oil.  Improved storage will be vital to fully integrating intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar into the electrical grid.  It will also be critical to transitioning the transportation sector to more flexible grid power.

JCESR (pronounced “J-Caesar”) will be directed by George W. Crabtree, Argonne Senior Scientist, Distinguished Fellow and Associate Division Director; Distinguished Professor of Physics, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago; and an internationally recognized leader in energy research.

“The JCESR batteries and energy storage hub gives us a new collaborative, inter-institutional R&D paradigm in which to develop the energy storage technologies that transform both the electricity grid and transportation and so reduce our dependence on foreign oil,’ said Eric Isaacs, Director of Argonne National Laboratory.

The Hub will bring together some of the most advanced energy storage research programs in the U.S. today.  Other national labs partnering with Argonne include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.  University partners include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and University of Michigan. Four industrial partners have also joined to help clear a path to the marketplace for the advances developed at JCESR, including Dow Chemical Company; Applied Materials, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; and Clean Energy Trust.

“This ambitious initiative, which builds on Argonne National Laboratory’s innovative work in advanced battery technology, will create new opportunities for technological research and economic development in the city of Chicago and the region,” said Robert J. Zimmer, University of Chicago President. “It will rely on a public-private partnership to speed the development of environmentally sound energy storage capabilities, with potentially profound economic benefits. We are grateful to all of the public officials who helped make this possible, especially Senator Richard Durbin, Governor Pat Quinn, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose support and commitment to economic development through innovation have been vital.”

"With exceptional talent and research strengths, Illinois is paving the way for next generation energy solutions, and this USDOE award will advance and accelerate the state's transformative efforts around energy storage and grid enhancements," said Mark Harris, President and CEO of the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, which worked with Argonne to develop the proposal. "This award represents tremendous collaboration between research and academic institutions, industry and government, and we look forward to advancing technology commercialization and economic development opportunities across the state and region."

Selected through an open national competition with a rigorous merit review process that relied on outside expert reviewers, JCESR is the fourth Energy Innovation Hub established by the Energy Department since 2010.  Other Hubs are devoted to modeling and simulation of nuclear reactors, achieving major improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings, and developing fuels from sunlight. A fifth Hub focused on critical materials research was announced earlier this year and is still in the application process.

Energy Innovation Hubs are major integrated research centers with researchers from many different institutions and technical backgrounds that combine basic and applied research with engineering to accelerate scientific discovery in critical energy areas. They are modeled after the strong scientific management characteristics of the Manhattan Project, Lincoln Lab at MIT that developed radar, AT&T Bell Laboratories that developed the transistor and, more recently, the highly successful Bioenergy Research Centers established during the Bush Administration to pioneer advanced techniques in biotechnology, including biofuels.

Over the decades, DOE national laboratories and DOE-funded university research programs have been responsible for some of the most important advances in battery technology. For example, key battery improvements developed at Argonne helped make the Chevy Volt battery possible.


Midland Communications Helps SMBs Use IRC Section 179 to Benefit From Significant Tax Deduction on New Technology PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Janet Dufour   
Friday, 30 November 2012 15:29
DAVENPORT, IA - November 29, 2012 - Midland Communications, a leading provider in unified communications, announced today that the company is helping customers take advantage of a large tax-break for small to mid-sized businesses with Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 179. Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if a business owner buys (or leases) a piece of qualifying equipment, he can deduct the full purchase price from his gross income. Essentially, it's an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy new equipment and invest in their companies.
The recession has taken a toll on many businesses and this program provides a means for business owners to access much needed savings on major purchases of technology equipment, software or business phone systems. If business owners act by December 31st, 2012 they can write-off the entire purchase price of qualifying phone systems in the first year up to $139,000. While every transaction is different and tax professionals should be consulted on specific situations, the potential rewards of this program have nudged many business owners to invest in the technolgy they need to gain a competitive advantage for 2013. This year, Section 179 also extends to cover off-the-shelf software purchases in addition to traditional equipment. Many business owners have installed new business phone systems as a result of this addition to the tax code, because recent breakthroughs in unified communications are enabling businesses to collaborate better, faster and more efficiently with one another.
"We were stunned to find out that so many of our customers had not yet heard of Section 179," commented Jason Smith, Vice President of Midland Communications. "We may specialize in delivering technology solutions to our customers, but we treat our customers like partners. When we find something as powerful as this program we have always considered it to be our duty to share this information to our customers. Our goal is to introduce our customers to technology that not only enhances their productivity, but more importantly increases their bottom-line. That approach has contributed largely to our success over the years and we plan on continuing to serve our customers in a proactive manner for years to come."


Midland Communications began more than 60 years ago in 1946 as the Worldwide Marketing Arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors. In 1977 a communications division was formed due to a partnership with NEC America. Today, As a distributor of NEC America, for 33 years, Midland Communications has a customer base of more than 3,000 satisfied customers that include general businesses, government agencies, Universities, colleges, hospitals, and hotels.
Midland provides a wide range of communication services including VOIP, PBX and key systems, Wide Area and Local Area networking, computers, Computer integration, voice mail, CCIS, and video conferencing and paging systems. Our philosophy is simple, provide quality products at a fair price, backed by an average emergency response time of twenty minutes, and the best service in the industry. For more information on Midland Communications, call (563) 326-1237 or visit

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Turn Green Into Green: Illinois Energy Now Public Sector Workshop PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Theresa Wittenauer   
Thursday, 29 November 2012 10:04
ROCK FALLS, IL – Carol Kulek, Consultant for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities (DCEO), will speak at the upcoming Turn Green Into Green: Illinois Energy Now Public Sector Workshop. The meeting will be held on December 12th at 10:00 AM at the Ogle County Farm Bureau located at 421 West Pines Road in Oregon, IL.

Carol and other representatives will present information regarding financial incentives that are being offered through Illinois Energy Now. These incentives cover a portion of facility upgrades to electric and natural gas systems including HVAC equipment, motors and drives, water heaters, boilers, lighting equipment, gas furnaces and refrigeration equipment. The workshop is designed to help local government officials and other public facility managers identify specific ways they can help cut energy costs and access millions of dollars in funding available through the DCEO Illinois Energy office.

DCEO staff will be on site to schedule free energy audits for public facilities and provide application assistance. The presentation will cover a new "Sweet Deal Bonus" which could increase the qualifying incentive of a project for a limited time.

The workshop is intended for any representatives of public sector facilities located in Carroll, Lee, Jo Daviess, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties. This workshop is free of charge and open to the public. However, participants are asked to pre-register. For additional information about the Turn Green Into Green: Illinois Energy Public Sector Workshop or to register, please contact Blackhawk Hills at (815) 625-3854 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

About Blackhawk Hills

Blackhawk Hills is a not-for-profit corporation based in Rock Falls, IL, that serves Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties in northwest Illinois. Services include community planning, development assistance, natural resources  conservation and protection support, and grant writing and administration. Blackhawk Hills is sponsored by local county boards and Soil and Water Conservation Districts and is overseen by an 18-member council, consisting of three representatives from each of the six counties.

Questions about Blackhawk Hills may be directed to Theresa Wittenauer at (815) 625-3854 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Grassley, Udall to Headline Press Conference on Extending the Wind Production Tax Credit PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 14:50

Senators to be joined by Reps. McNerney & King, veterans working in wind industry

TOMORROW, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, Senators Chuck Grassley and Mark Udall will headline a press conference with Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and veterans from around the country to discuss the importance of extending the Wind Production Tax Credit.  Around 40 veterans, many of whom have found post-military careers in the wind energy industry, are participating in a two day fly-in during which they also will meet with members of Congress from their home states.

The Wind PTC is due to expire at the end of this year unless Congress renews it.  Without renewal, thousands of jobs and our energy security will be jeopardized.  The wind PTC supports thousands of good-paying, middle-class jobs throughout the country.  Americans of all stripes, including veterans, have benefited from the job opportunities and growth created by the wind energy industry.

Grassley has been the father of the wind PTC and has fought to ensure that the wind industry has the support it needs to power communities.  Udall has been a vocal proponent for the wind PTC, speaking almost every day the Senate has been in session to urge his colleagues to extend the PTC and secure made-in-America energy and the jobs it creates.

Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy released for public comment PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Tim Albrecht   
Monday, 19 November 2012 13:52

Strategy is a science and technology based approach to reducing nutrients to Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico

(DES MOINES) – Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad today joined Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Director Chuck Gipp from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Dr. John Lawrence from Iowa State University to announce the release of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy for public comment.

“Iowans care about our natural resources and want to protect them for future generations.” Branstad said. “This strategy keeps us at the forefront of using voluntary, science-based practices to improve water quality in our state, and is an important step forward.”

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science and technology-based approach to assess and reduce nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.  The strategy outlines voluntary efforts to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point sources, such as wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban areas, in a scientific, reasonable and cost effective manner.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) worked with Iowa State University over a two-year period to develop the strategy.  The resulting strategy is the first time such a comprehensive and integrated approach addressing both point and nonpoint sources of nutrients has been completed.

The Iowa strategy has been developed in response to the 2008 Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan that calls for the 12 states along the Mississippi River to develop strategies to reduce nutrient loading to the Gulf of Mexico.  The Iowa strategy follows the recommended framework provided by EPA in 2011 and is only the second state to complete a statewide nutrient reduction strategy.

“The strategy’s science assessment provides a research-based foundation to quantify the effectiveness of current practices for reducing nutrient losses from the landscape,” said John Lawrence, associate dean for extension and outreach programs in ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of ISU Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension. “The assessment reflects two years of work to evaluate and model the effects of the practices by scientists from ISU, IDALS, DNR, USDA Agricultural Research Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and other institutions.”

Iowans are invited to review the strategy and provide feedback during a 45 day comment period that starts today and will end on January 4, 2013.  The full report, additional information and place for comments can be found at

In addition, presentations will be made to farmers, certified crop advisors and others in the agriculture industry as part of ISU Extension and Outreach educational meetings beginning this fall. Thousands of people will learn of the strategy, where to find more information and how to provide comments about it.

Point Sources (DNR)

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be working with major facilities throughout the state to reduce nutrient discharges from point sources to Iowa’s waters with a goal of reducing total phosphorus by 16 percent and total nitrogen by 4 percent.

“The DNR has been working with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa State for nearly two years and support this strategy document and the collaborative process that created it.  Many Iowans enjoy our state’s natural resources and it important we protect them for future generations,” Gipp said.

Nonpoint Sources

To address nutrient transport from nonpoint sources the strategy uses a comprehensive, first of its kind scientific assessment of conservation practices and associated costs to reduce loading of nutrients to Iowa surface waters.  The strategy identifies five key categories to focus the efforts in addressing nonpoint sources and identifies multiple action items within each category.

The five categories are: Setting Priorities; Documenting Progress; Research and Technology; Strengthen Outreach, Education, Collaboration; and Funding.

By harnessing the collective innovation and capacity of Iowa agricultural organizations, ag businesses and farmers the strategy takes a significant step forward towards implementing practices to improve water and soil quality.

“This strategy provides the most up-to-date scientific information available to farmers as they seek to use the best practices available to reduce nutrient delivery from their farm,” Northey said.  “The goal of this strategy is to get more conservation practices on the ground.  This is not about rules or regulations, instead this strategy provides resources to farmers to help them improve water quality.”


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