Applied Research Center key for Savannah River Site, Aiken County

October 19, 2015

The Applied Research Center is one of many examples of the Aiken community’s commitment to activities related to the Savannah River Site.


Formerly the Center for Hydrogen Research, the Applied Research Center seeks to combine the broader needs of government, academia and the private sector by working to advance the use of technology.


The Center is part of the larger Savannah River Research Campus Aiken property that houses a number of facilities near the site on Gateway Drive.

The campus was established to provide a business-friendly location for organizations to work with SRS.


One of the key aspects is the placement of the campus just outside of SRS borders, making the area available for guests without having to badge them.


Ernest Chaput, a strategies development official at the Center, said the Applied Research Center’s work is largely in response to a reduced workforce at the site following the change from providing plutonium for the defense program to environmental management challenges.
Chaput, who was once the deputy manager of the site, said the smaller workforce has impacted the local economy.


Efforts by groups such as the Applied Research Center highlight the technological aspects of the site and create partnerships that will boost the economy, Chaput said.


“In response to the challenge, local government and business banded together in the late 1990s to stabilize the local economy by developing non-traditional means of local job creation and capital investment based on leveraging SRS assets,” Chaput said.


A large part of those assets include work at the Savannah River National Lab. For example, the Center works with the lab on developing technology for hydrogen-fueled vehicles.


Applied Research Center officials reported earlier this year that the work could benefit the entire state if the Center continues to showcase its work, which includes a hydrogen-fueled truck at the Center and a hydrogen-fueled bus in North Augusta.


The Center is also conducting site-related work in other areas.


This summer, the Center had interns from North Dakota, Virginia and Aiken working on technology that will aid national security efforts, including reducing the impact of a dangerous, $2 trillion counterfeiting industry.


Chaput summed it up, stating that the job of the Center is to help identify when a unique SRS tool can be of value to a different off-site need. The Center then identifies potential off-site users and facilitates the transfer of intellectual property rights to the off-site developer for commercial application.


“SRS gets royalty funds; and a new commercial enterprise is established, hopefully in Aiken,” he said. “There have been notable successes in technology licensing, including environmental decontamination, criminology, medicine and manufacturing processes.”


Applied Research Center partnerships key in site-related work