Johnson Controls forges academic partnership for energy storage research

Renewable energy expert Deyang Qu has been named as the Johnson Controls endowed professor in energy storage research, a collaborative appointment between the company, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Engineering.

He will begin his new duties in Milwaukee on Jan. 15.

“I am honored by this appointment and look forward to helping lead joint projects that will get ideas and concepts about storing energy out of labs and into products,” said Qu. “This will also provide a unique opportunity for students to gain early exposure to the real-world of industrial engineering and my focus will be on developing student curricula to build the skill sets needed for advanced technology industries.”

The appointment, based at UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science and affiliated with WEI, is part of a collaboration among Johnson Controls, the world’s leading supplier of automotive batteries, and two of the state’s largest public research universities. The industry-academic partnership aims to advance research, development and commercialization of energy storage technologies.

Qu, a faculty member in the chemistry department, at the University of Massachusetts Boston since 2005, will be responsible for providing long-term strategic coordination between the universities and the clean energy industry’s needs in matters of curricula, sponsored research and the talent pipeline development.

“With his history of academic excellence and industry experience, we are fortunate to have Dr. Qu join the universities and Johnson Controls,” said MaryAnn Wright, vice president engineering and product development, Johnson Controls Power Solutions. “He will take the lead for the applied research and development projects we already have in place, execute new technology development projects and will continue to mature the skill sets needed to foster future employees to ensure we meet our goal of groundbreaking discoveries in energy storage technologies.”

In addition to the endowed professorship, Johnson Controls’ multi-million dollar investment in research already has produced two joint laboratories at UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science, where faculty, students and the company’s scientists work side-by-side. One of the labs is a state-of-the-art “dry pilot manufacturing” lab, the only one of its kind on a university campus in North America, which enables work on the next generation of Lithium-ion batteries.

“This endowed professorship is a model of success for our students as they build expertise and skills that immediately transfer to the needs of future-focused companies like Johnson Controls,” said Mark Mone, UWM interim chancellor. “I’m grateful to Johnson Controls for strengthening our deep working relations with this appointment. Our regional and state economies benefit greatly from joint efforts such as this. I am pleased by the naming of Deyang Qu as endowed professor and the resulting growth in collaboration.”

The company also has funded and installed the Johnson Controls Energy Storage Research Lab, housed in the Wisconsin Energy Institute at UW-Madison, to test, evaluate and optimize how battery systems perform and interact with a vehicle’s powertrain and electrical architecture.

“Professor Qu is a wonderful addition to the University of Wisconsin as the Johnson Controls chair. His research has encompassed broad engineering interests, including the development of high performance energy storage systems for emerging electric vehicle technologies and for fundamental material and electrochemistry research,” said Michael Corradini, the Wisconsin distinguished professor of engineering physics at UW-Madison and WEI director. “He will be a great addition to the Wisconsin Energy Institute and collaborator in the Center for Renewable Energy Systems.”

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