MIT Energy Initiative announces 2013 seed grant awards

Karen L. Gibson and Nancy W. Stauffer MITEI

The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) has announced its latest round of seed grants to support early-stage innovative energy projects. This year’s winners address a wide range of topics including thermoelectric materials, energy storage, energy-efficient algorithms, carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and conversion, energy-harvesting devices, and petroleum reservoir management.

A total of more than $2 million was awarded to 14 projects, each lasting up to two years. The funded projects span four of MIT’s five schools and nine departments.

As in the past, the call for proposals welcomed submissions on any energy-related topic, but this time, MITEI’s industry members particularly encouraged projects focusing on “big data.” In response to the call, MITEI received a total of 54 proposals. Some of the funded projects are highlighted in the following paragraphs.

Funding for the new grants comes chiefly from MITEI’s Founding and Sustaining Members, supplemented by funds from John M. Bradley ’47, SM ’49 and an anonymous donor, and gifts from other generous alumni. Alumni contributions help expand the scope of the Energy Research Seed Fund Program and enable participation of faculty from across the Institute.

To date, the seed fund program has supported 117 early-stage research proposals, with total funding of more than $14 million.

This graphic shows ground deformation and fault slip created by fluid injection underground, as predicted by a coupled flow-geomechanics simulation. Colors denote horizontal displacements in the direction perpendicular to the fault. Ruben Juanes and Bradford Hager aim to elucidate the potential for fluid leakage along such faults.

Recipients of MITEI seed grants, spring 2013

Earth Abundant Molten Thermoelectric Materials
Antoine Allanore, Jeffrey C. Grossman, Materials Science and Engineering

An Immiscible Organic | Aqueous Liquid Flow Battery for Stationary Energy Storage
Fikile R. Brushett, Chemical Engineering

Energy-Efficient Algorithms for Big Data
Erik Demaine, Martin Demaine, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Interferometric Waveform Inversion
Laurent Demanet, Mathematics

How large is the impact of transportation infrastructure on economic growth and the demand for energy?  A new perspective from China, as seen from outer space, 1972-2011
David Donaldson, Economics

Hybrid Energy Harvesting Devices
Silvija Gradecak, Materials Science and Engineering

Enhanced Pseudo-Capacitors for Energy Storage and Water Treatment
T. Alan Hatton, Gregory C. Rutledge, Chemical Engineering

Quantifying leakage risks in geological CO2 sequestration and shale-gas production
Ruben Juanes, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Bradford Hager, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Dynamically Tunable Catalysts for CO2 Capture and Conversion to Cyclic Carbonates
Alexie Kolpak, Mechanical Engineering

MACE-Meter: Multi-utility Access Consumption Evaluation Meter
Steven B. Leeb, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Acetic acid from methane: Coupling methane oxidation and carbonylation on Cu-exchanged zeolites
Yuriy Roman, Chemical Engineering

Improving Methods to Assess Multipollutant Regulatory Outcomes
Noelle Selin, Engineering Systems Division; Susan Solomon, Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences; John Reilly, Management

Advanced Thermal Storage with Water Stable MOFs for Building Climate Control
Evelyn Wang, Mechanical Engineering

Optimum decision-making in reservoir management using reduced-order models
John R. Williams, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This article appears in the issue of Energy Futures.

Seed Fund

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