Climate and Energy Project awards more than $11 million in research grants
BY MAXINE LYM
Franklin M. Orr Jr., director of the Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), announced that five new research grants totaling more than $11 million have been awarded to Stanford faculty and collaborating researchers at other institutions in the United States and overseas. The new programs will focus on solar energy, advanced combustion, and carbon capture and separation. Investigators will use the funding to conduct fundamental research in energy technologies aimed at significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.
"The granting of these awards broadens the scope of GCEP research and provides us with additional research in renewable energy technologies," said Orr, the Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Stanford. "It also expands the global nature of GCEP to include institutions in Australia and Japan in addition to the institutions working with us from the U.S. and Europe."
Funded over a three-year period beginning in fall 2005, the grants will bring the total number of research efforts supported by GCEP to 28, with total funding of approximately $37.5 million.
Stanford faculty will lead three of the new studies, and investigators at the University of New South Wales in Australia and the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth in Japan will lead two. Discussions between Stanford and the other institutions are under way to establish subcontracts that are required before the funds can be used.
Three studies will investigate novel approaches to the design and fabrication of solar cells, with the goal of developing efficient and low-cost options for converting solar energy to electricity:
"Inorganic Nanocomposite Solar Cells by Atomic Layer Deposition," led by Stanford researchers Stacey Bent, Department of Chemical Engineering; James Harris, Department of Electrical Engineering; and Michael McGehee, Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
"Nanostructured Metal-Organic Composite Solar Cells," led by Stanford researchers Mark Brongersma, Department of Materials Science and Engineering; and Peter Peumans and Shanhui Fan, Department of Electrical Engineering.
"Nanostructured Silicon-Based Tandem Solar Cells," led by University of New South Wales researchers Martin Green, Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics, and Gavin Conibeer, Centre for Photovoltaic Engineering.
"This award from GCEP offers my colleagues and me a unique opportunity to pursue a bold approach for making inexpensive but efficient solar cells," said Bent, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. "We look forward to working together to address a problem of such global significance."
Added Green: "This award allows us to explore a very original approach to solar energy conversion that uses abundant materials and little energy, but promises high performance and low costs. Our work so far suggests we have a good chance of making a breakthrough in this area."
Another research effort will seek to improve understanding of new fuel formulations that may lead to acceptable transportation options with reduced carbon dioxide emissions:
"Optimization of the Molecular Structure of Low-Greenhouse-Gas Emission Synthetic Oxygenated Fuels for Improved Combustion and Pollutant Emission Characteristics of Diesel Fuels," led by Craig T. Bowman, David Golden, Ronald Hanson, and Heinz Pitsch of Stanford's Department of Mechanical Engineering. SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., also will participate.
One program seeks to use unique materials and design techniques to develop novel membranes for use in the key processes of carbon dioxide capture and separation:
"Sub-Nano Structure Controlled Materials—Development of Innovative Gas Separation Membranes," led by Koichi Yamada, Shingo Kazama and Katsunori Yogo, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth.
"These new awards are definitely in line with GCEP's mandate of supporting step-out research that will have a long-term global impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions," commented Philippe Lacour-Gayet of Schlumberger, chair of the GCEP Management Committee. "The research is high risk, but there is also a high potential for breakthroughs and the end results could be far-reaching."
Launched at Stanford in December 2002, GCEP is a collaborative effort of the scientific and engineering communities at academic research institutions and industry. Its purpose is to conduct fundamental, pre-commercial research that will foster the development of a global energy system with significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The GCEP sponsors—ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and Toyota—intend to invest $225 million in GCEP to seek new solutions to the world's energy future through a portfolio of technical areas.
The GCEP sponsors plan to fund additional programs at Stanford and other universities and institutions around the world. GCEP is conducting assessments of advanced coal and advanced transportation technologies to identify technical barriers and opportunities for research that could lead to significant advances in those areas.
The project also is conducting two workshops:
GCEP International Workshop, "Exploring the Opportunities for Research to Integrate Advanced Coal Technologies with CO2 Capture and Storage in China," in Beijing, China, on Aug. 22-23.
GCEP Advanced Transportation Workshop at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center at Stanford on Oct. 10-11.
For more details visit: http://gcep.stanford.edu
Maxine Lym is communications manager for the Global Climate and Energy Project.