News Release

Binghamton University marks official launch of federally funded battery initiative

Battery NY to be located in University-owned facility in Johnson City

Business Announcement

Binghamton University

Official launch of Upstate New York Energy Storage Engine.


M. Stanley Whittingham, distinguished professor of chemistry at Binghamton University and Nobel Laureate, addresses the crowd at the official launch of the Upstate New York Energy Storage Engine 

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Credit: Binghamton University, State University of New York

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- National Science Foundation (NSF) officials joined Binghamton University, State University of New York to officially launch the Upstate New York Energy Storage Engine. After winning the designation earlier this year, Binghamton University and its New Energy New York and Engine coalition partners gathered to celebrate what this all means to the region.

At a press conference on Thursday, Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger welcomed NSF Assistant Director of the Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate Erwin Gianchandani to Binghamton to help launch the Engine program.

Erwin told the crowd that Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the NSF, is pleased with the progress demonstrated to date by the Upstate Engine.

“We’re thrilled to see the impact and progress from the New York NSF Engine,” Panchanathan said. “In just a few short months, with the support of NSF and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, this team has already been building serious momentum by creating new industry partnerships and laying the groundwork to build new battery development facilities to accelerate energy and battery supply chain innovations while driving technology innovation, U.S. competitiveness and local workforce development.”

The press conference was held at the former Gannett warehouse facility in Johnson City. President Stenger announced that the building, which is owned by the University’s Foundation, will be the future home of Battery NY.

A first-of-its-kind research and development center supporting industries looking to create advanced, sustainable battery technologies, Battery NY was announced when the University won the federal Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) program and was originally planned for a different site. But the Johnson City building is providing a central location, closer to the University, with more room to build and also the potential for expansion in the future.

“This is an exciting step in our vision for creating a full-scale, lab-to-market battery economy right here in upstate New York,” Stenger said. “Through NENY and its partnerships with federal agencies, other colleges and universities, and industry-leading companies and startups, we’re striving to be global innovators in batteries and energy storage.”

NENY builds on the research of Distinguished Professor M. Stanley Whittingham, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019 for his work in the development of lithium-ion batteries, a key component of renewable energy storage as the world weans itself from fossil fuels.

“This funding will let us come up with new inventions, which we intend to test out and build up to a commercial stage in this facility,” said Whittingham, who last week was named a knight bachelor of the United Kingdom as part of King Charles III’s birthday honors list.

Founded two years ago, NENY has attracted academic and corporate partners that have developed a host of programs to support the growth of the battery and energy storage manufacturing industry.

The NSF designation joins the $63.7 million awarded through the BBBRC in September 2022 and the designation as a federal Battery Tech Hub in October 2023. Binghamton is the only U.S. university to receive all three designations. New York’s Empire State Development is also supporting all of the NENY initiatives with more than $60 million in state investments.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that he had Binghamton and other Southern Tier and upstate communities in mind when he wrote and passed the federal CHIPS and Science Law in 2022 that created the NSF Regional Innovation Engines Competition.

“I believed so strongly that if we could make smart federal investments boosting the great innovations happening across this country, we could combat some of the biggest threats we face to our economic preeminence and future vitality and growth, protect supply chains, and boost domestic industries — all while bringing new opportunities and jobs back to communities like those right here in upstate New York,” wrote Schumer.

“That is why I have been New Energy New York’s biggest champion since day one, and I am so proud of this team and all their accomplishments.”

Ben Verschueren, executive director of Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), sees the coalition of state and federal funding for NENY as “exponential drivers for positioning New York and the U.S. as a global leader in energy storage.”

“This region has an immense amount of talent and can take on a challenge like this,” Verschueren added. “We’re so excited to see a vibrant and expansive consortium of partners committed to executing a grand vision for the future.”

A key research partner with NENY is Cornell University. Krystyn J. Van Vliet, vice president for research and innovation, is a materials engineer and appreciates the cooperation needed to innovate energy storage technology.

“Cornell University looks forward to continued and now amplified support of these efforts around innovation and technology translation that will advance upstate New York’s position as a national leader in battery technology,” Van Vliet said.

Serving as acting CEO of the Upstate NY Energy Storage Engine will be Meera Sampath, associate dean of research and graduate studies at Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science. She pointed to the accelerating effects of climate change for the urgent need to develop a greener energy economy.

“Batteries and storage technologies are foundational to a carbon-neutral economy and to meeting our New York energy goals,” Sampath said. “I am very honored to be part of the team that will drive innovation and inclusive growth in this crucial technology area.”

One of 10 inaugural NSF Regional Innovation Engines around the country, the Energy Storage Engine will receive $15 million from the NSF for the first two years of the project and up to $160 million over 10 years.

Federal and regional officials offer support for the Upstate New York Energy Storage Engine

Kelly Sanders, assistant director for energy systems innovation at the White House Office of Science, Technology and Policy: “President Biden has been steadfast in his commitment to Investing in All of America, spurring innovation and creating good-paying jobs in communities across the country. New Energy New York represents an effective and complementary investment between the state, NSF and EDA to recharge, restore and revitalize Binghamton and the Southern Tier of New York. This work — made possible by the president’s CHIPS and Science Act — is bolstering our nation’s security and long-term competitiveness in advanced batteries and energy storage.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight: “The Southern Tier is quickly establishing itself as the place for next-generation battery industry innovation. New York state’s broad-based investments in this evolving industry, combined with the assistance of our federal partners at the National Science Foundation and Binghamton University, are fueling substantive, place-based research and development efforts, serving as a central driver for regional economic competitiveness, creating solid opportunities.”

State Sen. Lea Webb ‘04: “The groundbreaking work being done on the Upstate New York Energy Storage Engine, led by Binghamton University, is exemplary and integral in the continued economic vitality of our community. I am excited and proud to support its continued development. This project is a testament to the innovation and commitment of our researchers, students and other community stakeholders, as it positions the Southern Tier as a leader in the energy storage sector. The advancements being made here will drive economic growth, further community development and play a crucial role in addressing our state and nation’s energy challenges.”

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, MA ’83: “Today was the official kickoff of the NSF’s Upstate New York Energy Storage Engine. This Binghamton University-led initiative, along with their New Energy New York partners, will focus on energy storage, an ambitious plan to revolutionize the way that energy is stored. Years of dedication and hard work have gone into helping our area become a designated hub for battery innovation and manufacturing. While this Storage Engine will help New York address our climate goals, it also will lead the country toward a clean-energy future.”

Assemblymember Harry Bronson, chair of the Assembly Labor Committee: “NENY and Binghamton University will play a transformative role in shaping our region into a national hub for advanced battery manufacturing. With the investment from the National Science Foundation, multiple industry and academic partners, including RIT and over 27 regional counties, will work together on this program, demonstrating the collaborative, innovative ecosystem of the Upstate and Finger Lakes economy. Importantly, the NENY coalition also aligns with our goals to connect economic development to workforce development initiatives to ensure we are increasing equity and opportunity in our economy and creating the qualified workforce we need to bring New York into the future. Thank you, Sen. Schumer and the CHIPS and Science Act, for investing in our region.”

Ryne Raffaelle, vice president of research and associate provost at the Rochester Institute of Technology: “For more than a decade, RIT has been at the forefront of battery development. By expanding our partnerships in the NSF Innovation Engine with additional upstate New York organizations and universities, we expect a marked increase in R&D efforts that will provide both an innovative and economic impact for our state and across the nation.”

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