Campus Community Health • HEERF I, II & III

Center for Manufacturing Research


New Research Projects in FY22-23

Second-life Battery in Mobile EV Charging Application for Rural Transportation (SMART)

Principal Investigator:  Pingen Chen, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Energy

Three-Year Award Total: $4,531,642

This project aims to address the urgent need to develop affordable mobile charging stations (MCSs) that can be deployed in rural America on a large scale by utilizing second-life batteries retired from electric vehicles (EVs).  Project objectives are: 1) design, develop, demonstrate, and validate four types of cost-effective MCSs to reduce upfront investment costs; 2) create and demonstrate first-of-the-kind affordable, resilient, and sustainable rural EV infrastructure in a multi-state region by seamlessly integrating affordable MCSs into the existing charging network to support electrification in underserved rural communities; 3) collect and analyze the first-hand data of second-life-battery-integrated MCSs to assess the potential market and benefits; 4) create outreach, training, and education opportunities to help a broad range of EV stakeholders make informed decisions in adopting second-life-battery-powered MCSs and develop economically viable charging stations.


Rural Reimagined: Building an EV Ecosystem and Green Economy for Transforming Lives in Economically Distressed Appalachia

Principal Investigator:  Pingen Chen, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Energy

Three-Year Award Total: $4,000,000

The "Rural Reimagined" project is Tennessee Tech's Grand Challenge initiative to harness science,  technology and innovation to transform rural communities.  

"Today is a great day," said Pingen Chen, principal investigator and assistant professor of mechanical engineering.  "With the rise of the clean energy economy around electric vehicles, rural and low-income communities in Appalachia have struggled in the transition, due in part to a lack of infrastructure, low awareness and limited-to-no access to electric vehicles and clean energy jobs."

The total cost of the project is $8 million.  Tennessee Tech is the leading organization among more than 50 partners from Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia sharing the balance of the funding.  

"This project aims to provide clean and affordable mobility options to the underserved communities by developing needed charging infrastructure and adopting and demonstrating  various cost-effective electric vehicles in diverse applications," said Chen.  "In addition, the project aims to create outreach, training and education opportunities to the residents of rural and low-income communities."

Five major components make up the project:  charging infrastructure development, electric vehicle acquisition and demonstration, data collection and analysis, outreach and education and workforce training and economic development.  Long term impacts on rural areas include transition from a fossil-fuel-based economy to clean energy, improved environmental quality and public health as well as creating new job opportunities.

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