International company to partner with KU for first electric vehicle charging station in Lawrence

Kansas University architecture students with Studio 804 are building the Center for Design Research, which will develop innovative green technology. The facility is being constructed at the Chamney Farm on KU's West Campus.

Kansas University has forged a partnership with an international energy management company to bring the first electric vehicle charging station to Lawrence.

This spring, architectural students are building a facility that will house the Center for Design Research on KU’s West Campus at the Chamney Farm property. The facility will focus on developing innovative green technology, including solar energy, wind turbines and an electric vehicle charging station.

KU has decided to partner with Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, according to the company’s website.

“It is significant for the state and the electric-vehicle industry,” said Greg Thomas, a KU design professor with the Center for Design Research.

Before selecting Schneider, KU developed a matrix to evaluate companies in the energy-management industry. They were particularly impressed with the company’s electric charger, Thomas said.

The charging station, which will look like a gasoline pump, will have two cords so two vehicles will be charged at the same time. One of those chords will be able to fully power a car much faster than the eight hours it typically takes, Thomas said.

Along with boosting the electric-car market by providing a place for owners to charge vehicles, the charging station will allow for KU to research how to store energy and possibly sell it back to energy companies.

Schneider also will provide an energy management system that will integrate how much energy the wind turbines and solar panels are producing and how much energy is being used. The center will have someone from KU’s Information and Telecommunication Technology Center working to make sure all the different energy sources can communicate with one another.

The building will also be outfitted with Westar’s smart meter, which will connect to the smart grid and give detailed information on energy usage.

Thomas hopes that the partnership with Schneider will encourage other companies to team up with KU for green technology research.

“It’s nice to have them as a pace car,” Thomas said of Schneider.