Volkswagen, UTK, and ORNL to create innovation hub at UT Research Park

Volkswagen, the University of Tennessee, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have partnered to create the automaker’s first innovation hub in North America. The hub will be located at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm. Key stakeholders recently held a press conference at UT Research Park to announce the collaboration and hold a formal ribbon cutting ceremony. 

According to the official press release, the collaboration involves research opportunities for doctoral students with initial work focused on creating lighter vehicle components made from composite materials, electric vehicles, and other innovative automotive pursuits. 

Randy Boyd, President, University of Tennessee speaking

“Working with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a great opportunity to continue growing Volkswagen’s engineering footprint in the North American region,” said Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, VW’s executive vice president and chief engineering officer for the region. “This hub, along with other research institutions here, is an integral part of Volkswagen’s global research and development efforts and can also directly contribute to vehicles in North America.”

Volkwagen first partnered with the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, when it opened its Chattanooga Assembly plant in 2011. In late 2019, the automaker broke ground on a $800 million expansion of its Chattanooga Assembly Plant that will produce two battery-powered cars and create 1,000 new jobs in the area. 

TAEBC welcomes advanced energy solutions and partnerships like the innovation hub. This opportunity reinforces the state’s goal of becoming the top electric vehicle producer in the country, as previously stated by Bob Rolfe, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner.

ORNL, UT technologies included in latest “R&D 100 Awards” finalists

(Originally published on Teknovation.biz)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee (UT) are among finalists that R&D Magazine has just announced for its annual “R&D 100 Awards.”

At times described as the equivalent of the Academy Awards, the recognition, now in its 56th year, have long been considered the most globally prestigious recognition of invention and innovation. The awards recognize 100 of the top innovations across five categories: analytical/test, IT/electrical, mechanical devices/materials, process/prototyping, and software/services.

The finalists were selected by an independent panel of more than 50 judges representing R&D leaders in a variety of fields.

ORNL was named as the primary or sole developer on six of the recognized technologies and was a co-developer on two more including something named the “Mobile Universal Grid Analyzer” where UT was the primary developer.

Read more here.

TAEBC’s “Opportunities in Energy” forum focused on entrepreneurship and innovation

NOTE: Originally published on Teknovation.biz

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Nearly 80 people registered for the “Opportunities in Energy” forum organized by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC).

Held at The Square Room in Downtown Knoxville, the theme of this year’s annual event was entrepreneurship and innovation. The nearly three-hour program featured a fireside chat with two leaders in the region that I had the privilege of moderating as well as pitches from three start-ups in the Energy Mentor Network coordinated by TAEBC and funded by Launch Tennessee.

Beverly Davenport, the new Chancellor of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, and Craig Blue, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), comprised the fireside panel that I facilitated. The focus was on the foundations their institutions have established, the plans they have for the future to help Tennessee build on its national reputation for excellence in the advanced energy sector, and how their innovation efforts can help create new businesses and expand existing ones.

Read the full story here.

UT Earns Top EPA Award

The University of Tennessee has received a 2017 green power leadership award from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The annual awards recognize America’s leading green power users for their commitment to advancing the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of those sources in the United States and advance the American green power market.

The EPA presented UT Sustainability Manager Preston Jacobsen an Excellence in Green Power Use Award at the 2017 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in New York City in October.

“This is UT’s top environmental and sustainability award to date, and we look forward to achieving a higher standing in the years to come as our campus moves toward a more sustainable place to learn, live, and work,” Jacobsen said.

In addition, UT ranks 35th on EPA’s National Top 100 list, and first on the Top 30 College and University list. Each list highlights EPA Green Power Partners using the most renewable energy annually as of July 2017.

“Being honored among the nation’s top green power users is affirmation that our program is among the nation’s best, but to receive this latest award is quite an accomplishment for our university,” Jacobsen said. “It places UT among the ranks of Google, Apple, and Microsoft as organizations who not only champion sustainability but put these technologies into action.”

UT was one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive an Excellence in Green Power Use Award.

UT is currently purchasing nearly 246 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough to meet 95 percent of the organization’s electricity use.

UT became an EPA Green Power Partner in 2005.

Read the complete story here.

DOE webinar reveals opportunities, challenges in southeast for advancing clean energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a “Regional Energy Technology Innovation” webinar in late September inviting leading research universities to present their findings examining the clean energy technology innovation in their respective regions.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-43-40-pmThe universities held forums earlier this year and each forum was attended by leaders from federal, state, and local governments; industry, DOE national laboratories; academia; and nongovernmental organizations.

The forums highlighted the differences among regions in terms of their energy needs, resources, and vulnerabilities; customer demands, markets and capabilities. A key conclusion of the regional forums is that clean energy solutions must be tailored to meet regional needs.

These forums were held in part of DOE’s “Mission Innovation.” Mission Innovation is a multinational initiative to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation that was announced at the United-Nations climate-change conference in Paris on November 30, 2015.

doeDuring the webinar, six different regions of the U.S. including the mid-atlantic, southwestern, northwestern, northeastern, midwest, and southeastern made presentations and spoke about the key takeaways, opportunities, priorities, challenges and next steps within their regions to achieve the driving force needed for maximum clean energy technology innovation.

The southeastern presentation was done by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The university’s vice chancellor of research and engagement, Dr. Taylor Eighmy, spoke about how the southeast’s area of expertise involved government-university-industry-national lab collaboration as well as rapid innovation and tech to market movement.

Dr. Eighmy said some of the major opportunities for the southeast include supportive state governments and a supportive investment community and innovator ecosystems. The southeast also has a strong industrial influence and their supply chains are beneficial.

According to Dr. Eighmy’s presentation, some of the main priorities and clean energy research and development focus areas for the southeast include advanced manufacturing, integrated grid management, bio-derived fuels and CO2 capture, nuclear energy and sustainable smart communities.

However, one of the greatest challenges the southeast faces in terms of advancing clean energy technology innovation is a need for improved business processes focusing on the speed of connecting industry to science and technology.

As the southeast moves forward, it will direct strategic collaborations tied to regional innovation needs, workforce needs, and especially innovation accelerators and private/foundation investment efforts in the clean energy technology space.