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GCEP awards $7.5 million for energy research programs

Figuring out how to create a more reliable electric grid is among the nine projects receiving support from Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project.

BY MAXINE LYM

Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) is awarding $7.5 million to nine research programs at the university and other institutions around the world.

The money is being used to investigate a broad range of energy technologies in the areas of the electric grid, advanced combustion, solar energy, carbon dioxide storage, and advanced materials and catalysts.

"GCEP is excited to fund investigators with a diverse set of expertise to help tackle the world's energy challenges from all angles," said Sally Benson, director of GCEP. "We are especially pleased to add four research programs focused on improving the operation of the electric grid, which is a key component of the electricity sector."

The new full-term activities bring the total number of GCEP-supported research programs to 75, with funding of $94.9 million committed since the project's launch in the fall of 2002.

The electric grid effort involves a total of 12 investigators from four different institutions – University of Tennessee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northeastern University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It sets out to create the basis for a more reliable power grid operation by changing the control paradigm for the electric infrastructure.

"The GCEP award allows my colleagues and me to investigate more effective management of the electric grid, which will be essential to enabling high penetration of renewables in future energy systems," said Kevin Tomsovic from the University of Tennessee and lead investigator on this effort.

Stanford faculty head a number of the new research efforts, including:

  • Rational Organic Semiconductor Material Design: A Pathway Toward Breakthrough Performance in Solar Cells, led by Zhenan Bao, chemical engineering.
  • Combustion Testing and Analysis of an Extreme-States Approach to Low-Irreversibility Engines, led by Christopher Edwards, mechanical engineering.
  • Linking Chemical and Physical Effects of Carbon Dioxide Injection to Geophysical Parameters, led by Gary Mavko, geophysics.
  • Developing Solid-State Electrocatalysts Based on Design Principles from Nature: The Oxidation of Water and the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide to Fuels, led by Thomas Jaramillo and Jens Nørskov, chemical engineering.

"I am very grateful for the support from GCEP, an organization that has played a crucial role in allowing scientists and engineers to push the frontiers of energy research here at Stanford," Jaramillo said. "It provides us with a great opportunity to develop critical aspects of technological systems that could ultimately enable net-neutral carbon dioxide emissions."

GCEP is a collaboration of the scientific and engineering communities in academia and industry. With the support and participation of ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and Toyota, GCEP explores the science that could lead to energy technologies that are efficient, environmentally benign and cost effective.

"It is very inspiring to see GCEP continue to expand its research portfolio," said Sherri Stuewer, chair of the GCEP Management Committee and vice president of environmental policy and planning for ExxonMobil. "Working on a wide range of challenging problems increases the likelihood that GCEP could have a significant impact on future energy systems with much lower greenhouse gas emissions."

Maxine Lym is the communications manager for GCEP.