U.S. Representative Judy Biggert today held an energy forum in Naperville highlighting the latest technologies being developed at local research and development institutions. Featuring presentations by Packer Engineering, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Illinois Institute of Technology, the event showcased advances in areas such as hydrogen, solar, plug-in hybrid vehicles, bio-fuels, and more. Also on display were prototype fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as hybrid cars currently on the market at area dealerships.
"Some of the nation's most cutting-edge energy technologies are being developed right here in the Chicagoland area," said Biggert, a Senior Member of the House Science and Technology Committee and Co-Chair of the House Research & Development (R&D) Caucus. "Breaking our addiction to foreign oil is going to require an all-of-the-above' approach. That means tapping domestic energy sources, but it also means investing in these kinds of emerging technologies that offer long-term solutions."
One highlight of the event was Naperville-based Packer Engineering's work on solar power. In one of its more far-reaching initiatives, Packer scientists are exploring ways that huge solar panels might someday be placed on the moon. Energy from the light would then be collected and transmitted back to earth wirelessly. Another popular subject was research being done on plug-in hybrid vehicles at Argonne National Lab. As the Department of Energy's lead laboratory working on plug-in hybrids, Argonne is at the forefront of research aimed at reducing battery sizes and improving their performance, durability and safety. Once the technology is fully online, these vehicles will drive up to 40 miles before using gasoline or needing a recharge.
"With gas at $4 per gallon and a cold Chicago winter just around the corner, Americans want to see faster work on these energy-saving technologies," said Biggert. "That's why I've worked so hard over the years to steer federal resources towards labs like Fermi and Argonne. Their work not only generates concrete energy solutions, it drives the innovations that create jobs and keep the U.S. competitive in a global economy."
Also on display were several next generation vehicles, including prototype fuel cell and plug-in hybrid cars. In their final stages of development, some plug-in hybrids are expected on the market by 2010, and the event gave participants the opportunity to see what they might be driving in just a few short years.
"I've driven several prototypes, including hydrogen-powered cars," said Biggert. "It's very exciting to see what these vehicles can do. They are going to revolutionize the way we power our society. And thanks to the reduction in demand for fuel, even those who don't drive them will benefit from lower gas prices."