SLAC Scientists Awarded Grants from Stanford Energy Institute

By Mark Shwartz & Mark Golden, Stanford News Service
September 17, 2012

Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE), TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy and Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC) have awarded nine faculty seed grants totaling $2.2 million for promising new research in clean technology and energy efficiency.

Seed funding supports early work on concepts that have the potential for very high impact on energy production and use. A committee of Stanford faculty and senior staff awarded the grants to researchers from a broad range of disciplines, including engineering, economics and psychology.

"We received 30 proposals from across the campus," said PIE Director Lynn Orr, a professor of energy resources engineering and member of the selection committee. "We looked for projects where the investigators had moved into new areas of energy research for which the potential payoffs justified taking the risk associated with early-stage proposals. After a lively debate, we chose nine projects with the strongest potential for impacting the supply or use of energy."

Among the studies to be funded by grants from the Precourt Institute for Energy, which acts as the umbrella organization for energy research and education at Stanford, is one on nanostructured polymers for high-performance batteries. The principal investigator for the project is chemical engineering Professor Zhenan Bao, and the co-principal investigator is Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and of photon science at SLAC.

Another Precourt Institute grant will fund a study on splitting water at high temperatures, which Associate Professor Nick Melosh, of Stanford's Materials Science and Engineering Department, is helping lead. Melosh is also a researcher at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences – a joint SLAC/Stanford institute.

Meanwhile, a project led by Frank Wolak, director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford, along with SLAC Director Emeritus Burton Richter, will be funded by a grant from the TomKat Center. They will examine reliability versus cost tradeoffs in California renewable-energy investments.

Visit the Stanford News Service online for the full announcement.


Field of yellow flowers with large power lines. Photo:
The projects chosen to receive funds have strong potential for impacting the supply or use of energy. (Photo courtesy of Mark Shwartz and Mark Golden at the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.