Tesla, UNLV announce partnership

Electric car company Tesla announced details Wednesday about a plan to invest $1 million into battery research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

UNLV President Len Jessup joined Tesla Vice President Diarmuid O’Connell and Gov. Brian Sandoval on campus to discuss the partnership, which was outlined in general terms when lawmakers approved $1.3 billion in tax incentives last year to attract Tesla to Nevada.

“This is an exciting example of how public-private partnerships can benefit both the commercial and academic communities,” Jessup said in a statement. “Our faculty are performing high-caliber research and are enthusiastic about collaborating with a leader in the electrical vehicle manufacturing industry.”

The five-year agreement between Tesla and the university includes two projects aimed at improving the operations of the company’s massive “gigafactory” that’s under construction east of Reno and could be producing batteries as early as next year.

A team of UNLV engineering professors plan to assess the gigafactory’s water use and identify opportunities to recycle and reuse the water. The second project, led by UNLV chemists, will explore how to improve the recycling of metals from lithium ion batteries.

“This is an incredible opportunity for this institution to provide valuable information and possibly develop intellectual property that will have commercial value for the company,” Sandoval said in prepared remarks.

As part of its agreement with Nevada last fall, Tesla committed to the research investment and to making a $38 million direct contribution to Nevada’s K-12 schools.

Sandoval said in his prepared speech that Tesla has exceeded every benchmark set by Nevada, and that the company’s decision to set up shop in the state was pushing both parties to improve. “Today’s partnership will help to keep both the university and Tesla innovative as they continue to pursue the opportunities found in the 21st century and beyond,” he said.


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