Cambridge, MA, United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA, United States

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. Researchers worked on computers, radar, and inertial guidance during World War II and the Cold War. Post-war defense research contributed to the rapid expansion of the faculty and campus under James Killian. The current 168-acre campus opened in 1916 and extends over 1 mile along the northern bank of the Charles River basin.MIT, with five schools and one college which contain a total of 32 departments, is traditionally known for research and education in the physical science and engineering, and more recently in biology, economics, linguistics, and management as well. The "Engineers" sponsor 31 sports, most teams of which compete in the NCAA Division III's New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference; the Division I rowing programs compete as part of the EARC and EAWRC.MIT is often cited as among the world's top universities. As of 2014, 81 Nobel laureates, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 38 MacArthur Fellows, and 2 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT. MIT has a strong entrepreneurial culture and the aggregated revenues of companies founded by MIT alumni would rank as the eleventh-largest economy in the world. Wikipedia.

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Stokes L.C.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Energy Policy | Year: 2013

Designing and implementing a renewable energy policy involves political decisions and actors. Yet most research on renewable energy policies comparatively evaluates instruments from an economic or technical perspective. This paper presents a case study of Ontario's feed-in tariff policies between 1997 and 2012 to analyze how the political process affects renewable energy policy design and implementation. Ontario's policy, although initially successful, has met with increasing resistance over time. The case reveals key political tensions that arise during implementation. First, high-level support for a policy does not necessarily translate into widespread public support, particularly for local deployment. Second, the government often struggles under asymmetric information during price setting, which may weaken the policy's legitimacy with the public due to higher costs. Third, there is an unacknowledged tension that governments must navigate between policy stability, to spur investment, and adaptive policymaking, to improve policy design. Fourth, when multiple jurisdictions pursue the same policies simultaneously, international political conflict over jobs and innovation may occur. These implementation tensions result from political choices during policy design and present underappreciated challenges to transforming the electricity system. Governments need to critically recognize the political dimension of renewable energy policies to secure sustained political support. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Document Keywords (matching the query): energy politics, renewable resource, renewable energy, renewable energy policy, renewable energies, energy policy.

A strategy to enable zero-carbon variable electricity production with full utilization of renewable and nuclear energy sources has been developed. Wind and solar systems send electricity to the grid. Nuclear plants operate at full capacity with variable steam to turbines to match electricity demand with production (renewables and nuclear). Excess steam at times of low electricity prices and electricity demand go to hybrid fuel production and storage systems. The characteristic of these hybrid technologies is that the economic penalties for variable nuclear steam inputs are small. Three hybrid systems were identified that could be deployed at the required scale. The first option is the gigawatt-year hourly-to-seasonal heat storage system where excess steam from the nuclear plant is used to heat rock a kilometer underground to create an artificial geothermal heat source. The heat source produces electricity on demand using geothermal technology. The second option uses steam from the nuclear plant and electricity from the grid with high-temperature electrolysis (HTR) cells to produce hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is primarily for industrial applications; however, the HTE can be operated in reverse using hydrogen for peak electricity production. The third option uses variable steam and electricity for shale oil production. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Document Keywords (matching the query): alternative energy, nuclear energy sources, renewable resource, renewables, geothermal energy.

Ghoniem A.F.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Progress in Energy and Combustion Science | Year: 2011

Energy "powers" our life, and energy consumption correlates strongly with our standards of living. The developed world has become accustomed to cheap and plentiful supplies. Recently, more of the developing world populations are striving for the same, and taking steps towards securing their future energy needs. Competition over limited supplies of conventional fossil fuel resources is intensifying, and more challenging environmental problems are springing up, especially related to carbon dioxide (CO 2) emissions. There is strong evidence that atmospheric CO 2 concentration is well correlated with the average global temperature. Moreover, model predictions indicate that the century-old observed trend of rising temperatures could accelerate as carbon dioxide concentration continues to rise. Given the potential danger of such a scenario, it is suggested that steps be taken to curb energy-related CO 2 emissions through a number of technological solutions, which are to be implemented in a timely fashion. These solutions include a substantial improvement in energy conversion and utilization efficiencies, carbon capture and sequestration, and expanding the use of nuclear energy and renewable sources. Some of these technologies already exist, but are not deployed at sufficiently large scale. Others are under development, and some are at or near the conceptual state. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Document Keywords (matching the query): energy consumption, renewable sources, renewable energy, energy conversion, energy resources, energy efficiency, renewable energy resources, energy utilization, renewable energies, energy needs.

Kolpak A.M.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Grossman J.C.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nano Letters | Year: 2011

Solar thermal fuels, which reversibly store solar energy in molecular bonds, are a tantalizing prospect for clean, renewable, and transportable energy conversion/storage. However, large-scale adoption requires enhanced energy storage capacity and thermal stability. Here we present a novel solar thermal fuel, composed of azobenzene-functionalized carbon nanotubes, with the volumetric energy density of Li-ion batteries. Our work also demonstrates that the inclusion of nanoscale templates is an effective strategy for design of highly cyclable, thermally stable, and energy-dense solar thermal fuels. © 2011 American Chemical Society.

Document Keywords (matching the query): high energy densities, volumetric energy densities, solar energy, renewable energy, renewable energies, energy storage capacity.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ENERGY,POWER,ADAPTIVE SYS | Award Amount: 265.00K | Year: 2016

Power electronics - electronic circuits that process energy - plays a key enabling role in a wide range of energy-efficient and renewable-energy technologies, and is also essential for powering other types of electronic systems. Smaller, more efficient, and less costly power electronics are critical to continued improvement of all these systems. Magnetic components such as inductors and transformers are typically the largest and usually lossy components in power electronics. Moreover, limitations in magnetic component design have been a major obstacle to realizing substantial improvements in miniaturization. To date, advances in power electronics have been enabled by increases in operating frequency, but limitations in magnetics technologies are inhibiting continuation of this trend. This project will develop design methods for high-frequency magnetics, mitigating these limitations, and will apply them to develop miniaturized, high-efficiency power electronics. The results will be useful across many different applications in electronic systems, efficient end-use of energy, and renewable energy systems, reducing their cost and improving their energy efficiency. The project will engage undergraduate and graduate students in the research, strengthening their skills in this important area. Participation of under-represented groups will be sought, and research participants will be carefully mentored. An ongoing research collaboration between Dartmouth and MIT will be strengthened and extended to include educational activities, including outreach to K-12 students to promote science and engineering.

A key route to improvement of power electronics is the development of converters that operate efficiently at substantially higher switching frequencies than are presently used (e.g., in the High-Frequency, or HF, range of 3-30 MHz). Higher switching frequencies result in reduced energy storage requirements of the passive components (including magnetic components), which can be leveraged to reduce size and cost of power electronics, and to improve performance (e.g., higher bandwidth.) Joint advances in high-frequency power circuits and magnetic component design are needed to realize these benefits. Advances have been hindered both by a lack of performance data for HF magnetic materials and a poor understanding of how to design power magnetics for HF. Recent work has revealed that some commercial low-permeability magnetic materials have high performance in this frequency range, enabling substantial miniaturization of power electronics (e.g., factors of 2-10 reduction in overall size) if magnetic component and circuit designs leveraging these materials can be developed. The proposed research program will develop design methods for power magnetic components at HF frequencies utilizing low-permeability materials, and will further investigate how these components can best be applied to realize high-density, high-efficiency power electronics. The research will develop design techniques for achieving reduced core and winding losses with low permeability materials; investigate optimized core and winding geometries; create improved models and designs for high-frequency windings, and develop new self-shielding HF magnetic structures. Moreover, power converter designs that can effectively leverage the capabilities of these HF magnetic components will be investigated and applied to realize miniaturized power electronics operating at HF.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Macromolec/Supramolec/Nano | Award Amount: 450.00K | Year: 2015

With this award, the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program of the NSF Division of Chemistry and the Condensed Matter Physics Program of the Division of Materials Research are supporting Prof. Tisdale at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conduct research directed toward better understanding of the properties of semiconductor nanocrystals. Semiconductor nanocrystals, also known as colloidal quantum dots, are promising components of next-generation renewable energy technologies (including solar cells, high-efficiency lighting, and thermoelectric devices). To improve the performance of these important technologies, more must be learned about how useful forms of energy are degraded into less useful forms (e.g., heat) in these exciting materials. Prof. Tisdale and his team are using advanced optical spectroscopy techniques to study the ways in which thermal energy is generated in quantum dots and developing chemical strategies for preventing these unwanted processes from occurring. In conjunction with these research activities, Prof. Tisdale is integrating new nanotechnology and energy engineering concepts into the MIT Chemical Engineering undergraduate curriculum, and promoting the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM through a partnership with a Boston public middle school.

Prof. Tisdale and his team investigate the dynamic pathways of vibrational-electronic energy dissipation in quantum dots and in quantum dot arrays, aiming to provide insight into the role of surface ligands in mediating these processes and pointing the way toward more effective quantum dot technologies and more sophisticated models of interfacial heat transport. These efforts include 1) ultralow-frequency vibrational spectroscopy of quantum dots and in quantum dot arrays, including the use of time-domain and frequency-domain techniques for observing surface vibrational modes and coherent lattice dynamics in ordered quantum dot arrays; 2) frequency-resolved visualization of thermal transport in quantum dot arrays, including the development of a novel time-resolved optical microscopy technique; and 3) ultrafast dynamics of vibrational relaxation in QDs, with a particular emphasis on the interaction between hot electrons and surface ligands.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: OFFICE OF MULTIDISCIPLINARY AC | Award Amount: 170.00K | Year: 2015

Collaborative Research: Computational Methods for Stability Assessment of Power Systems with high penetration of clean renewable energy

The electrical power grid is currently undergoing the architectural revolution with the increasing penetration of renewable and distributed energy sources and the presence of millions of active endpoints. Introduction of these novel components affects the stability of the system, i.e. its ability to return to normal operating conditions after disturbances. Lack of stability may compromise the reliable power supply and result in cascading blackouts in the most dramatic scenarios. The key intellectual merit of the project will be demonstrated through the development of a theoretical foundation for the problem of stability assessment of future power grids with high levels of renewable energy penetration. Interdisciplinary team of researchers from 3 US institutions will bring in cutting edge innovations from a number of fields like power systems dynamics and control, numerical algebraic geometry, and nonlinear systems in order to develop the computational tools to analyze the highly nonlinear dynamic behaviors and to certify stability/feasibility of operating points in the next generation power grids. From broader impact perspective the project addresses some of the most difficult and important challenges of modern society. The technology transfer of the results to public and private companies will provide direct benefit to the society by providing new open source tools for better economic decision making, protection of national security and informing of public policy. Other broader impacts include but are not limited to: 1) raising awareness of the stability related problems among applied mathematics and controls community, 2) Organization of a joint seminar between the applied mathematics and electrical engineering departments at University of Notre Dame, 3) Organization of special sessions and workshops on power system modeling and control in upcoming conferences, namely American Control Conference 2016 in Boston 4) engagement of underrepresented groups in research and education activities and development of custom tailored summer research projects for interested students. 5) Development of new graduate level specialized classes on advanced topics in smart grids.

In heavily stressed operating conditions, the nonlinear interactions play a critical role in power system dynamics and its response to disturbances. Introduction of renewable generation will affect both the structure of operating points and their stability properties. Implicit assumptions in traditional stability analysis techniques developed for conventional hierarchical nature of power grid structure may be violated and the techniques may not be applicable to future power grids. The goal of this project is to develop a new generation of computationally tractable but engineering wise accurate approaches to help the operators to assess the stability of operating points in renewable-integrated power systems. More specifically, the project will develop new techniques for constructing Lyapunov functions-based stability certificates for large-scale power systems, and novel ways of representing the complicated switch-type nonlinearities in polynomial form. New generation of efficient and robust homotopy algorithms will be developed and applied to practical problems in power systems. PI Chakrabortty and his group will be responsible for the development and validation of tractable but at the same time accurate dynamic models of power systems with renewable generations. The group of Turitsyn and Vu will be studying and exploring new approaches to construction of stability certificates for large scale dynamic model of power systems, and will be analyzing the nonlinear sensitivities of operating point with respect to generation levels of renewable generators and other uncertain parameters. PI Mehta will be leading the effort on the advancement of recently developed Numerical Polynomial Homotopy Continuation algorithms that will be used for the analysis of operating conditions of nonlinear systems developed in the first two thrusts.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ENERGY,POWER,ADAPTIVE SYS | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

The project aims to design electricity markets at the distribution system level of the electric power grid to accommodate the trend toward increased renewable energy based generation. The envisioned electricity markets will need to align the interests of so-called prosumers (electric power producers who are also electric power consumers) with overall system objectives. The long term aim of this research is to design and analyze markets to allow prosumers to be stakeholders and participants in achieving system objectives. In this specific project, the team designs mechanisms and markets for strategic prosumers to participate through an aggregator (whose role can also be performed by the distribution company) to provide three services - energy balance in the generator-to-home mode of operation, energy balance in the generator-to-grid mode of operation, and frequency regulation. By focusing interest on the intersection of the emerging power grid and market design, this project will also foster further research in developing a full theory and practice for the economics of the new power grid. Achievement of the projects objectives will, therefore, generate considerable momentum at the scientific, technological and economic levels to advance the functionality and harness the complexity of the new power grid, boosting American competitiveness and economy. Concrete educational and outreach plans including design of new courses and projects for undergraduate involvement in research are also provided.

Many markets and mechanisms that guarantee useful properties such as efficiency, revenue optimality, and truthful revelation, in spite of strategic selfish agents are known. However, electricity markets are unlike many other commodity markets since electricity is difficult to store and is regulated in the sense that it has to be available on demand. The markets for large scale renewable integration pose additional challenges including information asymmetry and bounded rationality among participants, possible negative impact on system stability, and operation across various time scales. These challenges require new research both in the power grid (e.g., to identify the effect on the stability of the grid in real time) and in economics (e.g., for mechanism design to ensure optimal actions and not just truthful reporting). A new ecosystem consisting of old and new entities will emerge and their interfaces will have to be designed. This project focuses on design of markets and mechanisms for the crucial interface between the aggregator and the prosumers. The project explicitly considers the impact of information assymetry, limited computational capabilities, and effect on stability of the power grid. Many insights will be portable to other interactions, including between the ISO (independent system operator) and multiple aggregators as well as a commercial EV (electric vehicle) charging stations that wish to engage in arbitrage of energy using batteries of its customers. By unifying techniques from economics, power systems, control theory, and dynamical systems, this proposal takes aim at a high-risk high-reward problem crucial for ensuring a future with large scale distributed renewable integration.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Chemical Catalysis | Award Amount: 675.00K | Year: 2015

Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind will play an increasing role in meeting the growing energy demands of the future. However, these sources are intermittent, having reliable energy when the sun doesnt shine or wind doesnt blow requires storage in an energy dense form such as a chemical fuel. The fuel energy can then be released to produce electricity on demand in a fuel cell. Currently, fuel cells are expensive and unsustainable due to the high cost and scarcity of the platinum-based catalysts needed to convert fuel to electricity. This project aims to develop low-cost, non-toxic, earth-abundant catalysts to replace platinum in future fuel cells. The work will allow graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral fellows to learn the modern techniques in chemistry for renewable energy science and to collaborate to discover new catalysts. The research work will also be integrated with a broad-based outreach effort, The Catalyst Genome Project, which will allow amateur researchers of all ages to discover, evaluate, and collaborate in the search for new catalysts for renewable energy storage.

With this award, the Chemical Catalysis Program of the Chemistry Division is funding Dr. Yogesh Surendranath of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to systematically investigate the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) mediated by late transition metal sulfide (MSx where M = Ni, Co, Fe) nanofilm electrocatalysts. Late transition metal sulfides (LTMSs) represent an attractive class of low-cost, earth-abundant ORR catalysts for low-temperature fuel cell cathodes but their development and optimization have been hampered by a lack of mechanistic understanding and an absence of fundamental design principles. The project will utilize a recently developed layer-by-layer chemical electrodeposition method for preparing nanometer-thick crystalline LTMS films to probe the active site structure and mechanism of ORR on these materials. From these studies, the work aims to extract broad periodic trends and overarching design principles that will be used to synthesize high-performance nanoparticulate LTMS ORR catalysts primed for integration into advanced fuel cell cathodes

News Article | February 28, 2017

Last week, California’s quest for a clean grid revolution culminated in the introduction of a bill mandating 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. Senator Kevin de León, a longtime environmental leader in the state senate, wrote the measure, which comes on the heels of last year’s major greenhouse gas reduction bill. Massachusetts legislators introduced the same goal with a deadline of 2035. Momentum behind such efforts has grown stronger in defiance of President Donald Trump’s antediluvian approach to climate science. But it's too early to assess the chances of these passing. It's easier to prognosticate on the effects of passing such a goal. And there's a lot of evidence that 100 percent renewable energy is not the optimal way to decarbonize the grid. Opponents of renewable energy incentives often use the argument that government shouldn't pick winners and losers. There's a big difference between giving fledgling, socially beneficial technologies a boost so they can compete effectively in a calcified marketplace, and using the power of government to favor one set of mature companies over another in providing a similar service. The legal requirement to source 100 percent renewable energy looks more like the latter. But let's say climate change requires massive government investment in clean technologies. In that case, the question shifts to one of efficacy: Since climate change justifies extraordinary measures, what is the most effective extraordinary measure to fight it? That’s where 100 percent renewables plans fall short, for both structural and practical reasons. The stated goal is to decarbonize the electric grid. Converting all electrical generation to some combination of wind, hydro and solar is one way to achieve this goal. The proposals at hand would make that particular method the endpoint. At best, this is indirect policy: Instead of saying “figure out the best way to decarbonize the grid,” it says, “figure out how to deploy a prescribed set of energy resources which should lead to the decarbonization of the grid.” At worst, it’s picking one path to the exclusion of other, potentially better, paths. Here's how Jesse Jenkins, an energy systems researcher at MIT, framed this problem: “Why would we want to constrain ourselves to a narrow set of options to confront climate change and air pollution and other energy sector challenges when those challenges are already quite difficult?” This only makes sense if it's possible to prove that some combination of wind, hydro and solar is the most practical route to a zero-carbon grid, accounting for speed, cost and probability of success. Not only should it beat every option currently available, but any future possibilities based on technological progress in the next several decades. Arguably the most prominent planners of the 100 percent renewable approach are Mark Jacobson of Stanford University and Mark Delucchi of UC-Berkeley, and they end up arguing that the ramp-up of renewable production to power the whole country is possible given our nation's previous success with World War II-era societal mobilization. That's an inspiring precedent, but not one you'd like to see guiding a feasibility study. We don’t know that a 100 percent renewable approach is the fastest, cheapest or easiest way to decarbonize the grid. We do know that it will be expensive and hard enough that its own advocates compare it to the most gargantuan collective effort in the nation’s history. Setting aside the case for keeping options open, the operational realities of a completely renewables-powered grid create challenges that could be avoided with other zero-carbon configurations. Solar and wind alone cannot be relied upon for constant service. This requires some combination of: 1) overbuilding capacity over a geographically dispersed region; 2) using a whole lot of storage; and 3) dramatically improving regional import and export of electricity. If solar and wind form the baseload, you have to prepare for the scenario when the sun is mostly blocked and wind is weak. One way to do this is building enough extra capacity that with all the fleet operating at its trough of productivity, there is still enough to power the system. That requires building capacity well beyond the reserves required of thermal plants, which produce a much higher percentage of their potential output. This multiplies the cost of the build-out, which is compounded by the diminishing returns of additional renewable capacity. With so much extra solar on the grid, grid operators have to deal with over-generation when the weather conditions are optimal. Solar and wind plants may have to curtail their output under such conditions. The more solar that goes onto the grid without a productive use, the more curtailment any additional solar facilities will face. “Value declines due to curtailment because each unit of potential PV production no longer displaces one unit of fossil generation,” states a study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on how to reach 50 percent PV penetration in California. “As curtailment increases, the benefits of additional PV may drop to the point where additional installations are not worth the cost, creating an economic limit to deployment.” Storage offers a hopeful way out of this conundrum, allowing renewables to act more like traditional power plants. California has almost single-handedly jump-started the advanced storage industry by setting a statewide mandate, but the state is still in the early stages of this rollout. That means utilities are still testing how storage works on the grid, and how it performs after several years of service -- both of which are crucial to planning a grid that is all renewables. Residential storage is even more nascent, with companies scrounging for customers and small-scale pilot programs. Residential storage could play a role in balancing the grid and shifting loads, but it needs to reach millions more customers to fulfill that role. Additionally, expanding California’s grid connections with its neighbors would smooth the renewable expansion by allowing more imports and exports at opportune times. This kind of interconnectivity of transmission lines takes a long time and requires coordination with several states -- and it's also quite controversial in the region. Even with optimal grid improvements, California would still need an estimated 15 gigawatts of additional storage just to reach 50 percent solar by 2030, according to an NREL study. That’s more than 11 times the amount of storage mandated currently in California, and 66 times the total megawatts deployed in the U.S. last year. This represents a massively expensive undertaking. A different study from Jenkins and researchers at Argonne National Lab demonstrates how the need for storage goes down if the grid includes some sort of flexible baseload power in addition to intermittent renewables. More flexible nuclear power or natural gas with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) could fill this role, in places where substantial hydropower isn’t available. Small modular nuclear reactors are still in a very early stage of regulatory review, and CCS has not achieved commercial success, so these are not certain options. A lot can happen in 28 years, though, and a zero-carbon mandate for the California market would be a powerful driver for development of such technologies. Again, that’s if California’s goal is to achieve a zero-carbon grid -- rather than just solely boost renewables. In a previous interview, Jenkins described what proposals like the one in California will accomplish: “It’s not saying this is the best pathway forward in terms of any metric, particularly in terms of cost. They say, ‘How much can we push renewables and only renewables? And what will be necessary to try to decarbonize with that pathway alone?’” Choosing that pathway alone will mean all kinds of other decarbonization pathways get shut out. Join GTM for actionable conversations on the future of electricity in one of our nation's most innovative states. California's Distributed Energy Future 2017 will be held in San Francisco, March 8-9. Learn more here.

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