ISU Headlines

Construction of Center for Advanced Energy Studies approved

Posted December 4, 2006

The Idaho State Board of Education has approved construction of the $17 million Center for Advanced Energy Studies facility in Idaho Falls.

Idaho State University President Arthur C. Vailas applauded the decision.

“CAES provides the opportunity to establish a core scientific capability that can be applied toward the world’s energy challenges,” said Vailas.

“We’re very excited about the new facility,” said Dr. John Knox, Idaho State University associate director for CAES and dean of academic programs at ISU–Idaho Falls. “It will provide space for more faculty and graduate students from all three of Idaho’s universities, and they’ll be working side-by-side with the Idaho National Laboratory.”

“This is a huge step forward for the development of CAES,” said Harold Blackman, interim CAES director at INL.

“This week’s decision by the Idaho Board of Education demonstrates the state of Idaho’s strong commitment to support the revitalization of energy science education in the U.S.,” said Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon. “The U.S. Department of Energy applauds Idaho’s partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory.”

INL Director John Grossenbacher said, “Construction of the CAES facility is a critical step for INL in establishing itself as a pre-eminent national laboratory and as a leader in helping the country achieve energy security.”

The 55,000-square-foot facility, scheduled to open in June 2008, will be built just north of University Place. The project’s contractor is Big-D Construction. Funding for the building is coming from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants and bond proceeds. ISU is supervising the construction of the building, and will manage it once it is built.

Of the building’s cost, $10 million of the bonds will be guaranteed by two of the partners of INL: Battelle Memorial Institute, for $8.8 million, and Washington Group International, for $1.12 million.The mission of CAES is to “address critical science and engineering issues that will help resolve the grand challenges associated with providing an appropriate mix of energy technologies needed to address critical U.S. and global energy needs,” according to the INL. Another aspect of CAES’ mission is to address the shortage of college students entering the field of nuclear energy research.

“Certainly, nuclear power will be a significant focus of what we do at CAES,” Knox said. “But we will be studying anything to do with advanced energy sources and energy policy, from how to make a better nuclear power plant, to alternative energy means such as creating new types of solar cells and generating wind power.

“CAES will support INL in executing its mission while building the research and education programs at the universities,” Blackman said. “Our research will include focused support of research and development in nuclear energy along with support to the variety of fossil and renewable energy programs at INL.

The CAES is already proving to be a boon for the INL and Idaho’s universities.

“We’re able to attract more people to the university because of the ability to use this new facility,” Knox said. “Already at ISU, we’ve hired three nuclear-engineering faculty, who are basically here because of this new facility. It is also providing additional opportunities for the state’s other universities.”

In March 2006, the Idaho State University Foundation unanimously passed a resolution that laid the groundwork for the CAES when the Foundation provided INL and easement for a utility corridor and road that will service the facility.