The latest NAATBatt Members Site Visit meeting took place this week at the Battery Innovation Center (BIC) and NSA Crane Naval base in southern Indiana.  The meeting was a great success and illustrates one of the many ways that NAATBatt members get outstanding value from their membership.

NAATBatt members were shuttled by bus from their hotel in Indianapolis to the BIC and Crane facilities in southern Indiana.  At BIC, attendees were able to see the wide range of BIC’s new testing capabilities, from the ability to analyze the behavior and characteristics of new electrode materials to the testing of communications software and protocols by which utilities can better control and coordinate the dispatch of a storage resource.  It was evident from the activity at BIC that its resources are already appreciated by a wide range of clients.  But the breadth of capabilities at the relatively new BIC facilities was impressive and surprised many attendees.

Attending members also heard about the newly announced (see the press release reference in this week’s newsletter) partnership between UL and BIC.  UL has chosen BIC as the principal testing site for battery systems that are seeking UL certification.  As the storage market matures, standards and certification will become an indispensable aspect of storage systems.  UL executive Lisa Salley compared the emergence of stationary storage technology today to the emergence of electric lighting at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  Like electric lighting, the safety and commercial success of storage cannot occur without a robust set of standards and certifications.  With the new relationship between UL and BIC, it is evident that many of those new standards will be developed and implemented at the BIC facility in southern Indiana.

Following the tour at BIC, members were bussed to the NSA Crane Naval base, just a few minutes from BIC.  NSA Crane is the third largest U.S. Naval base in the world, consisting of 3,000 buildings and more than 98 square miles, the existence of which is, perhaps intentionally, not widely appreciated.  NSA Crane’s principal mission is the storage and testing of ordinance.  The quantity and variety of equipment that NSA Crane has to do that testing is nothing short of mind boggling when compared to the test equipment and facilities that private industry is used to working with.  NSA Crane personnel made it clear that Crane is looking for ways to work with private industry to put some of the excess capacity at Crane to use.  The testing of battery systems seems an obvious application of NSA Crane’s rather incredible capabilities.

From the ordinance testing facilities, NAATBatt member attendees were taken to NSA Crane’s electrochemical facility, where attendees saw testing facilities for a variety of batteries, including those used in submarines, aircraft, missiles and helicopters.  The tour ended with a visit to NSA Crane’s circuit board manufacturing area, where Crane personnel manufacture and remanufacture circuit boards for military systems.  It was suggested that that facility might also be made available to civilian customers.  Interested NAATBatt members should contact Dave Roberts at BIC for further information about these opportunities at NSA Crane.

The evening ended at the Uptown Café, one of the best restaurants in Bloomington, Indiana, where NAATBatt members attended a group networking dinner before being bussed back to their hotel in Indianapolis.  I am told that a lot of business got done over dinner.

The Members Site Visit meeting at BIC/NSA Crane is an outstanding example of what we do at NAATBatt and why it is valuable to our members.  Thanks to our members, BIC and UL, who made the visit possible and to member Crown Battery for sponsoring the networking dinner in conjunction with UL.  I look forward to announcing the next Members Site Visit meeting soon.  That meeting will be hosted by members UET and 1 Energy Systems in Seattle next spring.  If you missed the Members Site Visit Meeting this week at BIC/NSA Crane, don’t miss the next one.