When Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu this week announced a list of companies selected to receive awards from the U.S. Department of Energy for ambitious research projects that could fundamentally change the way the country uses and produces energy, it was good news for Central Florida. Among those receiving grants is Orlando-headquartered Planar Energy Devices, Inc., which will use the award for further development of their solid state lithium battery. They are the only award recipient in Florida.

Through a partnership between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, the University of Colorado, and the University of California San Diego, Planar is seeking to develop an ultra high energy, long cycle life, all solid-state lithium battery that can be manufactured using low cost techniques. The Florida High Tech Corridor Council also played an integral role in assisting Planar establish a 3-way partnership between the participating Florida universities.

The potential of this local company’s innovations is far-reaching. For example, Planar’s battery technology could one day soon revolutionize the auto industry by providing a lighter weight, longer lasting battery designed to reduce automobile reliance on fossil fuels. The Department of Defense is also interested in applications as a power source on the battlefield and numerous other industries are interested in the ramifications of the technology.

Funded through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the grants are awarded to projects that could produce advanced biofuels more efficiently from renewable electricity instead of sunlight; design completely new types of batteries to make electric vehicles more affordable; and remove the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants in a more cost-effective way.

Source: Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Communique