Oregon BEST Expands Lab Network

Oregon BEST Invests in Expansion of Green Research Lab Facilities

New facilities and equipment to help Oregon’s green researchers, green industry

The Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST) has announced new investments that expand Oregon’s university research capability in both solar energy and the sustainable built environment and help Oregon’s green businesses more quickly commercialize new green products and technologies.

The funding at Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon will purchase key research equipment and add three lab facilities to the Oregon BEST shared-user network of research tools and expertise available to Oregon’s growing green innovation sectors.

The move is aimed at boosting Oregon’s capabilities and reputation as the North American leader in both solar energy and sustainable built environment innovation.

“We’re building on Oregon’s leadership position in solar energy and green building, with the ultimate goal of creating more clean-tech jobs for Oregonians,” said Oregon BEST president and executive director David Kenney. “By helping Oregon businesses access our shared-user network of university research expertise and lab equipment, firms can more quickly commercialize new products and services, which leads to new jobs and addresses some of the world’s energy and environmental challenges.”

The four labs receiving funding bring the total number of facilities in the Oregon BEST network to seven. More than 180 faculty at OSU, PSU, the UO and the Oregon Institute of Technology are part of the statewide network that offers Oregon industry access to advanced research tools, faculty expertise, commercialization opportunities and a well-educated green workforce.

In addition to helping existing Oregon companies and startups collaborate, expanding the shared-user network also helps the state recruit more green companies, Kenney says.

The total investment at the four labs exceeds $1 million, with Oregon BEST investing approximately $800,000, and an additional $270,000 coming from university and business contributions. Combined with lab investments brokered by Oregon BEST last year, the shared-user network represents almost $5 million in new lab resources brought online by Oregon BEST since early 2009 that are available to Oregon faculty and industry.

At OSU, the funding will purchase a key piece of equipment for an existing Oregon BEST lab, the Oregon Process Innovation Center (OPIC) for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing. The Real-Time Quantum Efficiency System is being developed by Oregon-based Tau Science Corporation, which is offering it at a reduced price as part of the collaborative development project between the lab and the company. The system will help Oregon’s solar energy industry by reducing the time to acquire a quantum efficiency spectrum (a fundamental measure of a solar cell performance) from five minutes to one second.

“OPIC represents the ideal environment for Tau Science to validate the technique across different material systems and manufacturing processes,” said company president James Hudson. “Ultimately, sustainable growth of Oregon’s solar industry requires development of the broader solar ecosystem—investment in the companies, researchers, and skilled labor pool that will continue to attract tier-one manufacturers to the region. Oregon BEST clearly recognizes this need through their support of this industry-academic collaboration and their continuing advocacy for sustainability in Oregon.”

At the University of Oregon, Oregon BEST is investing in two labs. The funding establishes the Façade Integrated Technologies (FIT) Testing Facility (part of the High Performance Environments Lab) in a three-story space where building façade materials and products ranging from high-tech window glazings and solar awnings to breathable walls and active insulation can be tested in real-world, real-time conditions.

The funding also purchases lab equipment for the existing Energy Studies in Buildings Lab (ESBL), with locations at the UO and in Portland, and adds this lab into the Oregon BEST shared-user network. The equipment includes a human thermal comfort prototyping chamber capable of testing heating and cooling innovations to see how they impact human comfort and productivity.

At Portland State University, the Oregon BEST funding purchases new equipment for the existing infraStructure Testing and Applied Research (iSTAR) Laboratory, which will also become part of the Oregon BEST shared-user research network. The new equipment will enable iSTAR researchers to evaluate the structural performance, architectural function and operational performance of green building technologies at full or large scales.

The other Oregon BEST shared-user facilities include: 
Green Building Materials Lab at OSU.
Green Building Research Lab at PSU.
SuNRISE Photovoltaic Lab at the UO.

About Oregon BEST: oregonbest.org

The Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST) brings together Oregon’s significant R&D strengths in the key areas of renewable energy and the sustainable built environment, with the goal of increasing research and accelerating public/private partnerships to transform that research into on-the-ground business opportunities and Oregon jobs. Since it was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2007, Oregon BEST has helped secure more than $27 million in research revenue at its partner universities (Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, and the University of Oregon) as well as numerous private businesses, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. The statewide Oregon BEST shared-user research network consists of seven Oregon BEST-funded lab facilities, more than 180 Oregon BEST Member Faculty, and a wide range of research equipment and facilities. 

Media Contact: Gregg Kleiner, 541-740-9654; Source: David Kenney, 503-725-9849