Virginia Tech creates sustainable-energy research initiative
Virginia Tech is creating a sustainable-energy research initiative to bolster its energy research programs.
The Energy and Materials Initiative will include nearly 30 Virginia Tech faculty members who will collaborate in five clusters on research projects including: smart buildings and a smart city; the food, energy and water connection; securet and sustainable nuclear power; electrochemical energy conversion and storage; and bioinspired aerodynamic and aero-acoustic control.
The initiative is being led by mechanical engineering professor Shashank Priya, who also is the faculty director for materials and sustainable energy at Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
“The goal is to form a cohesive and structured partnership within materials and energy research at Virginia Tech, which will position us to apply for larger external grants and create high-impact technologies. The research conducted under the initiative will be at technology readiness level three and higher,” Priya said in a statement.
The Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science will provide seed funding for research in targeted clusters; that investment will support a graduate student in each cluster co-advised by the cluster’s faculty members.
But to remain part of the project, each cluster will need to show success.
The first round of research projects funded by the initiative fall into five clusters, selected for their demonstrated sustainability and potential impact on society and education.
In order to remain part of the Energy and Materials Initiative beyond the first year, each cluster must more-than-double its seed funding in external investment.
The goal is for clusters to become self-sustaining.
Projects within each cluster include:
Electrochemical energy conversion and storage: study ways to improve conversion efficiency, reduce cost, and expand the use of electrochemical systems like fuel cells and batteries.
Food, water and energy nexus: develop technologies for recovering energy and nutrients from food, beverage and agricultural waste.
Smart buildings and cities: research on smart grids, information and communication systems and energy harvesting and urban infrastructure.
Nuclear power: design and analyze a reactor based on salt fuel, which could improve the availability of clean, safe and affordable energy.
Bioinspired aerodynamic and aeroacoustic control: use flexible matrix composites and 3-D printed “finlets” to tackles challenges in wave and wind energy.