Energy research lab may offer jobs in future

Staff photo by Derrek Asberry
SRNL technical Host Thad Adams gives a tour of the new facility.
Staff photo by Derrek Asberry SRNL technical Host Thad Adams gives a tour of the new facility.

Employees from Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Savannah River National Laboratory and local officials gathered on Monday to celebrate collaboration with a ribbon cutting of the Energy Materials Research Laboratory.

The lab is an expansion of the national laboratory and was funded by a $3 million contribution from the SRNS board of directors. It is a collaborative effort among SRNS, Aiken County and the Economic Development Partnership.

“It's a great day for the Site, the County – and we at the lab are excited, too,” said lab director Terry Michalske. “Research challenges our thinking, and what's really exciting is combining research with companies that can implement new products based on that research.”

The expansion added six new labs that will support research in areas such as nuclear energy, energy storage materials and systems, solar energy materials, materials for wind and marine energy systems and carbon dioxide capture. Other objectives for the lab include developing clean, sustainable energy technologies.

SRNS President and CEO Dwayne Wilson made mention of the expansion's national influence.

“The intent of our company and our parent company organization has been to strategically invest corporate dollars in ways that would enhance the national laboratory's competitive position,” Wilson said in a recent press release.

Locally, the partnership also has implications for Aiken County. Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young spoke about the partnership during the ceremony.

“This symbolizes one more step in Aiken County's commitment to create jobs based on this unique resource,” Young said. “Together, the partnership will advance technology, create jobs and will serve as a testimony that public-private relationships work.”

S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, was also in attendance and echoed Young's sentiments on job creation.

“This type of development is what we need for future jobs in Aiken County,” Taylor said. “You have the faith that when you bring really great companies here to develop innovative products, you're going to result in job creation.”

Employees are putting the finishing touches on the facility and national laboratory officials are hopeful that work can start in the newest addition at the top of next month.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.

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