NC State Signs Agreement with Utilities To Develop New Tech Transport

North Carolina State University has partnered with Duke Energy Corp. and Progress Energy to establish a center on campus to develop new technologies for plug-in hybrid and other energy-efficient transportation.

The Advanced Transportation Energy Center will receive infusions of $1.5 million in cash over five years from the energy companies. Startup costs are expected to be $5 million; operations will run an additional $1 million a year. The school is expected to apply for grants to fund the difference.

"Growth in the use of plug-in hybrid technology and infrastructure opens the door for North Carolina and N.C. State to be leaders in creating a workforce for advanced transportation," said N.C. State Chancellor James L. Oblinger. "N.C. State was selected to house the ... Center because of our proven research capacity and expertise in battery and photovoltaic research as well as our ability to build the partnerships needed to make the center a success."

According to a statement from state governor Michael F. Easley, the center will focus on developing batteries that are "more powerful and less costly." It currently costs about $10,000 to convert a hybrid to a plug in. The goal is to cut that cost to a more consumer-friendly amount. It will also work to create the infrastructure to make use of electric vehicles, including charging stations.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement that NC State will participate in a three-year, $3.2 million joint research project funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy to create liquid fuels out of biomass products like wood waste and sawdust.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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