Midwest institutions to play key roles in national innovation initiatives

Happy hump day, readers! The top Midwest tech news today is that a number of regional institutions are among a big national initiative to advance tech and innovation in the United States. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation announced today over $1 billion in awards to create 12 national hubs that will be testbeds for two promising emerging technologies: artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum science. A map showing the extensive AI center network is on the NSF website.

  • The AI centers will be located at universities, and the quantum computing centers will be led by national laboratories. Institutions throughout the region will be collaborators. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will host two of the AI hubs, and Michigan State UniversityWichita State University, the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Danforth Plant Science Center will be collaborators. Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab are quantum science hub hosts, with Ames Laboratory and Northwestern University among the supporting institutions.
  • A slew of science and tech topics will be covered through the research at these hubs, including climate, agriculture, manufacturing, robots, resiliency, and sustainability.
  • The hubs are intended to bring together public, private, and academic entities for tech research and development that grows the country’s cutting edge innovations while spurring economic growth.

Today’s headlines:

✈️ AVIATION: Today DOE also announced $33 million in funding for 17 projects that advance cost-effective, high-performance energy generation and storage for electric aircraft, with a focus on hybrid technologies. Electric motor projects in Columbus, Ohio, and Milwaukee are among the recipients.

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💧 HYDROGEN: A PEM electrolyzer from Columbus, Indiana-based Cummins will transform water gathered from a dam in Douglas County, Washington, into renewable hydrogen energy. The system is expected to go live next year and is touted as the first electrolyzer of its kind to be used by a public utility.

🏭 EMISSIONS: Researchers from Michigan Technological University developed a new method for calculating who is liable for greenhouse gas emissions. It indicates oil and natural gas pipelines are more important than they appear in other climate models. It also shifts emissions liability more toward the East Coast and away from the Midwest.

🌽 AGRICULTURE: Scientists at Iowa State University are using robots and other technologies to study how corn plants respond to heat shock driven by climate change. The study shows how two different plant responses thought to be independent of each other work together to help crops survive heat stress. This study could have implications for engineering more resilient crops.

⚖️ LAWSUIT: Attorneys for Feng “Franklin” Tao, a University of Kansas chemist whose specialties include energy chemistry, want federal prosecutors to drop their fraud and false statement lawsuit against him. Tao faces 10 felony charges for accusations of wire fraud and making false statements about working for a university in China while simultaneously working at KU and accepting DOE grant money.

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