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The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation has announced the 2017 recipients of its annual Seed Grants for Energy Research, which support Carnegie Mellon University faculty research in the areas of energy, environment, and policy.

Founded in 2013, this seed grant program has funded five annual rounds of applicants and a total of nearly 40 research teams. The 2017 funding alone totals nearly $553K from the Scott Institute and the EQT Foundation. The EQT Foundation contributed $178K to the 2017 fund; EQT-funded projects will specifically seed new research into natural gas-related issues. Eight research teams will receive 2017 Scott Institute Seed Grants for Energy Research:

  • Assistant Professor Edson Severini (Heinz College, Economics and Public Policy) will study the impact of climate change on air pollution. Meteorological conditions impact ambient ozone levels, and increased climate change may lead to increased ozone concentration in the near future. Severini will provide guidance to policymakers regarding future revisions of ambient ozone standards.
  • Assistant Professors Yuvraj Agarwal (School of Computer Science, Institute for Software Research) and Anind Dey (School of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction Institute) will design, build, and add the first generation of SuperSensors to Carnegie Mellon University’s new Scott Hall, turning the building into a Living Lab in order to gather data on inhabitants’ energy usage with the aim of reducing energy consumption.
  • Professor Shawn Litster (College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering), along with Professors Kevin Noonan and Tomasz Kowalewski (Mellon College of Science, Chemistry) aim to advance the science and engineering of alkaline membrane fuel cells (AMFCs) by increasing the conductivity and durability of the membranes, in hopes of positioning AMFCs as an attractive alternative to common proton exchange membrane fuel cells.
  • Professor Jeremy Michalek (College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Engineering & Public Policy) and co-PIs, Associate Professor Inês Azevedo (College of Engineering, Engineering & Public Policy) and Assistant Professor Constantine Samaras (College of Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering), will examine the impact of autonomous taxis and shared mobility services such as Uber and Lyft on energy consumption, vehicle use, and greenhouse gas and criteria air pollutant emissions.
  • A team of faculty researchers led by PI Assistant Professor Venkat Viswanathan (College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering) will develop a catalytic approach to improving the long-term stability of lithium-ion batteries by building a bridge between understanding electrocatalytic oxygen evolution and oxygen release in high voltage cathode materials. The aim is to remove obstacles, such as cost and limited storage capacity, that limit electric vehicle adoption.
  • Professor Nicola Secomandi (Tepper School of Business, Operations Management) will apply pathwise optimization methods to energy merchant operations. Energy merchant operations is an approach that models the operational flexibility of energy conversion assets, like natural gas production, power plants, wind farms, and more. The project aims to develop novel methodology to compute the best dual bounds enabled by a given parametric approximation family. Funded by EQT Foundation.
  • Professors Athanasios Karamalidis (College of Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Newell Washburn (Mellon College of Science, Chemistry) will conduct research necessary to develop a continuously operating, small-scale field-ready separation system that can be deployed at sites that produce waste water—such as gas operations, geothermal utilities, coal power plant effluents, and more—and extract rare earth elements from the water produced. These elements are necessary for the development of current and next-generation green energy technologies. Funded by EQT Foundation.
  • Professor Jay Whitacre (College of Engineering, Engineering & Public Policy) and Assistant Professor Meagan Mauter (College of Engineering, Engineering & Public Policy, Civil & Environmental Engineering) will create a Concurrent Assessment and Design of Systems (CADS) platform for assessment of the complex intersections between policy, technology, and human responses to system perturbation in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The proposed work balances the need for rapid, quantitative, and intuitive models by hybridizing these existing models into the CADS platform. Funded by EQT Foundation.