Granholm, Epolito Announce First Centers of Energy Excellence

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Centers will grow Michigan's leadership in advanced battery and biofuel technologies

LANSING– Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James C. Epolito today announced Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approval of alternative energy partnerships in Ann Arbor, Flint and Kinross (eastern Upper Peninsula) to be designated the state’s first Centers of Energy Excellence (COEE). The program, proposed by the governor in her State of the State address in January and signed into law this summer, is designed to bring companies, academic institutions and the state together to support cutting-edge research and development and pioneer new alternative-energy technology. 

"Centers of Energy Excellence will enable innovative companies doing cutting-edge work in advanced and alternative energy to partner with our world-class research facilities and universities to help make Michigan the North American epicenter of the alternative energy industry,” Granholm said. “This new program is part of our aggressive strategy to diversify our economy, create new jobs, and be the state that helps end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.” 

In July, legislation was enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support authorizing the Michigan MSF to allocate up to $45 million to establish and administer the COEE program, which will support the development, growthand sustainability of alternative energy clusters by identifying and/or locating a base company with the necessary business and supply-chain infrastructure. The COEE program will match the base companies with universities, national labs, and training centers to accelerate next-generation research, workforce development, and commercialization.

The Centers of Energy Excellence announced today are: 

Sakti3– This Ann Arbor-based company will receive $3 million from the COEE program to establish a center focused on next-generation lithium battery technologies and processes. The proprietary technologiesenable the manufacture of battery cells in Michigan instead of overseas. The University of Michigan will contribute research on battery lifecycles.

Swedish Biogas International– Swedish Biogas International will utilize $4 million from the COEE program to launch a waste-to-energy/biomethane center at the city of Flint’s waste water treatment facility. The project will draw upon 15 years of experience that Swedish Biogas has in operating three waste-to-energy facilities in Sweden. KetteringUniversity is a partner in the project and will collaborate withLinköpingUniversityin Sweden. Kettering will work toward adapting municipal vehicles so that they can utilize the bio-methane as fuel. Kettering’s incubator will also serve as the initial headquarters for SBI’s North American operations, providing a launching point for expanding the use of this technology throughout Michigan and North America. The C.S. Mott Foundation and Swedish agencies are also partnering on the project.  

Mascoma Corporation– The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company will use $20 million from the COEE program to establish a cellulosic ethanol center in Kinross (eastern Upper Peninsula). The center will utilize the abundant timber resources in the area, producing fuel from nonfood, cellulosic crops (wood). Michigan State University and Michigan Technical University will focus on improving the supply chain for woody biomass feedstock. 

“The Centers of Energy Excellence program is a powerful new tool that will help grow alternative energy companies and create entire industry clusters in Michigan,” said Epolito, who is also chair of the MSF board. “I applaud the efforts of Governor Granholm and the Legislature for providing us the tools we need to grow our economy and create new jobs. I also want to thank the Universityof Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech University, Kettering University and all of our local economic development partners in Ann Arbor, Flint and Kinross for joining with these innovative companies to launch these transformational projects.”

The COEE designees announced today went through a formal review process that included an initial technical oral interview followed by a written review of their application.  

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

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