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Reducing carbon emissions and preserving water and air quality discussed at 2017 E-ffiliates retreat

Published on February 8, 2017 by Sharon Adarlo

Balancing the needs for energy, economic growth, climate change mitigation, and access to affordable and clean water and air was central to the animated discussions at this year’s annual retreat for Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership, a corporate membership-based program administered by Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.

The E-ffiliates retreat, which attracted more than 75 participants, brought together University faculty, industrial representatives, postdoctoral fellows, and students at the Chauncey Hotel and Conference Center in Princeton on February 2nd for a full day of informative panels and in-depth discussions on solutions to energy and environmental challenges. During the intimate meeting, students had the special opportunity to network and exchange ideas on climate change and technological solutions with leading practitioners.

E-ffiliates enables transformational innovations in the fields of energy and environment through close collaborations between academic experts and industry leaders. It enhances teacher-student-practitioner interactions and promotes technology transfer between Princeton University and its corporate partners.

“It’s important to bring together a variety of disciplines, professions, and backgrounds,” said Lynn Loo, director of the Andlinger Center, the Theodora D. ’78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering, and professor of chemical and biological engineering. “Open dialogue among different constituents is the key to solving our energy and environmental issues because these problems are complex and touch almost every aspect of human society.”

The event hosted two interactive panel discussions, a poster session, and a keynote on clean energy by Matthew Nordan, managing partner of MNL Partners, an international firm that develops energy and environmental projects in global markets, with a focus on China. Daniel Steingart, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, spearheaded the retreat’s technical program.

The morning panel, “Meeting Energy and Economic Needs While Reducing Carbon Footprints,” covered the challenges of realizing a carbon-neutral world, the incredible growth for energy demand projected in the future, the hidden impact of energy efficiency, and emerging solutions, such as autonomous electric vehicles. Robert Socolow, senior research scholar and professor emeritus in mechanical and aerospace engineering, moderated the discussion.

The afternoon panel, “Air and Water Quality Preservation,” went in-depth into the issues surrounding clean air and water for personal and industrial use, provided a historical account of the development of regulations overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the transport of pollutants, and engine emissions. Claire White, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, moderated the discussion.

For the poster session in the evening, 27 postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students presented research on a range of topics including building-integrated photovoltaics, electric motors, building shading, rammed earth walls, and battery diagnostics. Concluding the event, Nordan gave a dynamic keynote that covered the energy and environmental challenges the world is facing, how existing clean energy technologies are insufficient in meeting projected demand, leading-edge clean energy solutions that are being developed in startups, and new financing models geared towards these startups and those developing other emerging technologies.

“The event showcases how industry and academia working together is most effective in addressing these challenges,” said Mark Zondlo, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and the associate director of external partnerships, whose central task is to oversee Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership. “It was a great opportunity for students and postdocs to understand industrial practitioners’ real world challenges. And it was just as great for practitioners to see the research happening on campus.”

For more information on the Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, contact Sharon Adarlo, communications specialist, at sadarlo@princeton.edu or (609) 258-9979.