Inside a 20,000-square-foot pavillion on the edge of the Oakland University campus, a laboratory is coming to life.
Those who helped build it are calling it an "Edison's Lab," and its mission is poised to put the university and its surrounding cities at the forefront of clean energy research and development.
Thursday morning, in front of a crowd of leaders in business, government and education, the university is to unveil its Clean Energy Research Center, a division of the OU INCubator, a center that supports science- and technology-based businesses.
The center will allow students and teachers to work on clean energy development in advanced lighting, combined heat and power, solar, biomass, wind and geothermal systems.
It will also allow the university to build partnerships with local businesses working on clean energy initiatives.
"At the state, national and local level, clean and alternative energy growth and development is critical to our region's evolutionary transition," said David Spencer, OU INCubator director. "If we're not able to take advantage of new innovations and new intellectual property in clean and alternative energy, we'll miss our window of opportunity this time."
A centerpiece of the morning launch will be a display of equipment that shows how switchgrass is converted into alternative fuel; a giant pellet mill would compress it and a boiler engine would heat it. Those contraptions are set up for viewing.
About 300 people, along with 30 exhibitors, are expected to attend the launch.