ExxonMobil, Princeton University partner new energy research projects

ExxonMobil, Princeton University partner for new energy research projects

6:56 AM, 15th September 2016
ExxonMobil, Princeton University partner for new energy research projects
Broken pieces of Arctic sea ice with a snow cover. (File photo)

IRVING, US: ExxonMobil Corporation and Princeton University have selected five research projects associated with their partnership, focused on energy technologies. These projects will centre on solar and battery technologies, plasma physics, Arctic sea-ice modelling, and the impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption on the world’s oceans.

This announcement follows ExxonMobil’s June 2015 commitment to contribute $5 million over five years to the Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership, a program administered by Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment (ACEE) that fosters research in sustainable energy and environmental solutions.

E-ffiliates promotes collaboration between industry and academia to search for energy and environmental breakthroughs. Over the past year, ExxonMobil scientists have collaborated with Princeton professors to identify areas with the most scientific potential, particularly ones that build on the university’s existing strengths and interests in emerging energy.

In the coming months, Princeton’s professors will select graduate research students to be named ExxonMobil Emerging Technology Fellows. The five selected projects and the professors who will lead them are as follows:

Organic Photovoltaics: The objective is to study how new photovoltaic materials, particularly those polymeric in nature, can be applied in forms of coatings and building materials. The project will be led by Lynn Loo, director of the ACEE.

Extending Battery Lifetime and Cycle Efficiency: The project will use diagnostic tools recently developed at Princeton to study degradation pathways of electric-vehicle batteries, and how they might impact follow-on use in applications on the power grid, known as “second life” applications. Research will be led by Daniel Steingart, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the ACEE.

Arctic Sea-Ice Modeling: The focus of the project is to advance sea-ice models used for understanding the factors controlling Arctic sea-ice cycles and, consequently, the ability to make reliable seasonal and long-range forecasts for sea-ice formation and melting. Research will be conducted at Princeton’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, a premier institution that has been developing state-of-the-art sea-ice modelling tools for decades. The project will be led by Alistair Adcroft, research oceanographer, and Olga Sergienko, research glaciologist, at the Princeton University Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program/NOAA-Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Role of the Ocean in the Future of Atmospheric CO2 Levels: The project’s objective is to gain insight into the future of carbon dioxide uptake by the ocean by reconstructing ocean carbon cycle changes during past periods of warming. Research will be led by Daniel Sigman, Dusenbury professor of Geological and Geophysical Sciences.

Plasma Physics: The project will take advantage of Princeton’s world-leading facilities for studying plasma physics. It will explore low-energy plasmas’ effectiveness in enhancing or controlling energy-related chemical processes, such as converting natural gas to larger molecules for producing liquid fuels or chemical feedstocks. Egemen Kolemen, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, is leading this research with Yiguang Ju, Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Last month, ExxonMobil announced that it would invest $15 million to the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute to pursue technologies in carbon capture and to help meet growing energy demand while reducing environmental impacts and the risk of climate change.

“Each of the five selected projects is a potential game-changer in terms of new energy development and better understanding of our natural environment,” said Eric Herbolzheimer, senior scientific advisor and section head of engineering physics at ExxonMobil research and engineering company.

“The collaboration with ExxonMobil is a win-win,” said Lynn Loo, director of Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. “ExxonMobil gains insight into new developments in emerging energy and the Princeton community benefits from industry’s view of the challenges of meeting global energy demands while being responsive to environmental impacts.”

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