From Ohio History Central
View of the Battelle Headquarters from the Olentangy River, Columbus, Ohio, ca. 1980-1995.
Battelle Memorial Institute was founded in 1923 with an endowment from the estate of Gordon Battelle. Located in Columbus, Ohio, the institute's mission is to develop practical applications for scientific research. Battelle was officially incorporated in 1925 and began its laboratory operations for the first time in 1929. The first laboratory was located next to the campus of The Ohio State University.
Scientists at Battelle were involved in a number of different research projects in the 1930s, with many of their efforts focusing on the iron and steel industries. The institute's contributions increased dramatically during World War II. Battelle became best known for its nuclear research because of its role in the Manhattan Project during the war, the program to build the first atomic bomb. The institute also provided the U.S. military with improved armor for tanks and other military vehicles. Battelle scientists were also involved in research on xerography, used by the Xerox Corporation and other companies in the development of copy machines. This technology became especially prominent during the 1950s and 1960s.
Battelle expanded tremendously in the decades following World War II. The institute established its first overseas laboratories in the 1950s, including laboratories and offices in Frankfurt, Germany and Geneva, Switzerland, and in 1970, took over operation of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory from the Atomic Energy Commission. Battelle scientists developed fuel for the U.S. Navy's first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, in 1949. A Battelle scientist designed the process for recording data on compact discs in the 1970s, while other research projects led to the redesign of coins for the United States Treasury. Retail stores and grocery stores across the United States use the bar code system, known as the Universal Product Code or UPC symbol, that Battelle developed in 1965. Batelle also introduced cruise control in cars in 1970. Battelle scientists have also made numerous medical discoveries, including a new means of treating and preventing blood clots in 1972. The institute also has numerous research projects studying energy production and alternative sources of energy, as well as ways to make businesses and products more environmentally friendly.
Today, Battelle Memorial Institute has an important role in many types of research, from commercial to military applications. The laboratory's headquarters are still located in Columbus, but there are major laboratories in Richland, Washington, and Geneva, Switzerland, and numerous smaller facilities in approximately one hundred other locations. In addition, Battelle has partnered with the State University of New York at Stony Brook to operate Brookhaven National Laboratory, Midwest Research Institute and Bechtel to manage the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the University of Tennessee to run Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Approximately sixteen thousand people are at work on Battelle's research projects. Among its most recent projects are security research for the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies, research on teen smoking and how to stop it, and ways to clean up oil spills.
- Battelle: 75 Years of Innovation. Past Success. Future Promise. N.p.: n.p., n.d.