Pike Powers Laboratory & Center for Commercialization
Opened in June 2013, The Pike Powers Laboratory & Center for Commercialization offers specialized capabilities for developing, testing and validating consumer electronics and applications that incorporate metrology, building controls, solar PV, natural gas fuel cell, machine-to-machine, vehicle charging and disaggregation technologies.
Named after one of Texas’ most iconic champions of technology and economic development, the lab is located in the Mueller community in the shadow of the former Mueller Municipal Airport’s air traffic control tower. Pecan Street is conducting one of the country’s most advanced consumer energy research programs, and many of the participating homes are located in the Mueller community.
The nation’s first non-profit smart grid research lab, the lab is an elite industry-caliber facility for members of the Pecan Street Research Consortium, where Pecan Street staff and university students and researchers can collaborate with the private sector on cutting-edge applied research.
The lab was designed by a team of Austin and UT architects, including Matt Fajkus, Ulrich Dangel and Tamie Glass from the UT School of Architecture, Atila Novoselac from UT’s Department of Architectural and Environmental Engineering, and Michael Hsu and Kevin Stewart from Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. The Muskin Company is building the facility.
The Pike Powers Lab is be driven by three priorities: commercialization, research and education.
Entrepreneurial researchers and start-up companies can commercialize innovative research at the lab. Examples of commercialization activities made possible by the lab include:
The ability to test, refine and demonstrate prototypes and bring advanced products to market, such as new electric vehicle chargers with integrated demand management and energy monitoring
Utilization of the lab’s unique infrastructure to conduct field-testing on new technologies, like advanced home energy storage and management systems that will keep a home powered during utility outages
The lab’s university-caliber testing facility brings together member companies, entrepreneurs and researchers to carry out industry-university research. Members have access to the most robust consumer energy data set in the country. The lab also provides the opportunity for original utility-focused research, such as the opportunity for utilities to plan for the future by testing new equipment in the lab and measuring grid impacts. For utility and other companies, the lab provides a safe location to test new technologies and novel configurations before testing in homes.
Contributor financial support will fund scholarships and stipends for university students to carry out research in the lab and will serve as a resource among the smart grid community. Work at the lab, for example, will spur the production of educational materials to teach policymakers about smart grid technology and energy conservation, as well as materials on commercialization and testing for entrepreneurs, start-ups and the academic community.
Pecan Street’s programming also includes STEM Education components for college and high school students studying in the energy, wireless and consumer electronics technology fields.