Global Climate and Energy Project awards $15 million for research activities

Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) Director Franklin M. Orr Jr. has announced a record $15 million in awards for eight research programs and five one-year exploratory research efforts to be conducted at Stanford and a number of other institutions.

Once established, the new activities will bring the total number of GCEP-supported research programs to 42 with funding of $61.7 million committed since the project's launch in December 2002.

"GCEP is pleased to have so many outstanding, innovative researchers joining our team," said Orr, the Keleen and Carlton Beal Professor at Stanford. "This set of awards will increase substantially the number of investigators from leading research institutions worldwide who will contribute their expertise to GCEP as we work to lay the foundations for new energy technologies."

The new research activities are in a wide range of areas, including advanced transportation, solar energy, advanced conversion of coal and advanced materials and catalysts. Investigators will use the grants to conduct fundamental research in energy technologies aimed at significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.

Stanford faculty will lead four of the new research activities, which include collaborations with investigators from Harvard University, Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. GCEP research programs also will be launched at the California Institute of Technology, Uppsala University in Sweden and the University of Picardie Jules Verne in France. Discussions between Stanford and the outside institutions are under way to establish subcontracts required for work to begin.

Three new research efforts are focused on high energy-density batteries for electric vehicles in the area of advanced transportation and include activities of Yi Cui and Friedrich Prinz of Stanford; Josh Thomas of Uppsala; and Jean-Marie Tarascon, Philippe Poizot, Franck Dolhem, Gilles Deamailly and Michel Armand of the University of Picardie Jules Verne.

Two new activities seek to improve dramatically the performance of solid oxide fuel cells and include research efforts led by David Goodwin and Sossina Haile of Caltech, and Paul McIntyre of Stanford and Shriram Ramanathan of Harvard.

"I am especially happy that our team at Caltech has been selected to perform this research," commented Goodwin, one of the new award recipients. "GCEP encouraged us to consider ambitious, new approaches to fuel-cell development, and this award gives us the opportunity to do just that."

Two additional activities address new approaches to the conversion of solar energy and include research efforts by Peter Peumans of Stanford and Nathan Lewis, Harry Gray and Harry Atwater of Caltech.

A novel concept for coal-based electrical power generation with permanent storage of conversion products, including carbon dioxide, in deep saline aquifers will be investigated by Reginald Mitchell of Stanford, Larry Baxter at Brigham Young and Ron Pugmire at the University of Utah.

Orr added that this round of grants was particularly significant for GCEP. "These new awards will expand the scope of GCEP research activities to cover advanced coal and transportation, two areas where development of low greenhouse gas emission technologies is vital."

The five one-year exploratory research efforts that Orr announced each will receive seed funding of $100,000 from GCEP. These efforts cover activities that range from research into enhancing carbon storage within soils to exploring new concepts and approaches for energy conversion devices. This research will be performed primarily at Stanford with participation also by researchers at Boise State University.

GCEP is a collaborative effort of scientific and engineering communities in academia and industry. Its purpose is to conduct fundamental, pre-commercial research that will foster the development of global energy solutions that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The GCEP sponsors—ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and Toyota—intend to invest $225 million over a decade or more in the project.

Maxine Lym is communications manager for the Global Climate and Energy Project.