Tesla, UNLV announce battery research partnership

LAS VEGAS - Electric car company Tesla is forging a formal research partnership with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 

UNLV President Len Jessup joined a Tesla vice president and Gov. Brian Sandoval Wednesday to announce details of the collaboration, which was outlined in general terms when lawmakers approved $1.3 billion in tax incentives for the company last year.

"Over ten million square feet -- it's the largest building on planet earth, and it is going to build or develop more batteries than the rest of the planet combined," Gov. Sandoval said. "There are going to be 6,500 jobs when that factory is finished, so there is great opportunity.  The average wage will be $25 per hour for each job just at the entry level." 

The first two projects in the $1 million partnership will include a study of water use and recycling at the Tesla battery manufacturing "gigafactory" that's under construction east of Reno.  

Tesla will fund $1 million worth of research projects for five years.

"The first phase of those projects in the first year here is for $100,000, and we have probably around five to 10 graduate students and same number of faculty working on those," said Tom Piechota, Research & Economic Development at UNLV.

The second will involve UNLV chemists researching how to improve recycling of metals from lithium ion batteries.  Tesla's Vice President Diarmuid O'Connell says partnering with UNLV will be beneficial for both parties.

"We have an educated workforce that can come in and be productive, but we also have an interest in fundamental research that can advance our products. 

Governor Sandoval says Tesla, UNLV, and both sides of the state are now more connected than ever.

Part of Tesla's agreement with Nevada included funding $1 million of battery research at UNLV and making a direct, $38 million contribution to Nevada's K-12 schools.


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