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Andlinger Center funds international decarbonization initiative and research on one-of-a-kind wind tunnel

December 11, 2018

As part of an initiative to support bold projects with long-term payoffs, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment named two new collaborative research projects to receive its 2018 award for Innovative Research in Energy and the Environment.

“Rapid Switch” investigates bottlenecks and constraints that collectively act to determine the pace at which the global energy system can be decarbonized. Climate Forces Across Scales studies how air moves around large buildings and infrastructure, testing how extreme winds affect the structural stability of skyscrapers, urban heat island effect, and building cooling and heating loads.

The highly collaborative projects bring together 30 experts from across Princeton University and other institutions. Funding totaled $600,000 between the two projects.

“These are unique, challenging issues that straddle several arenas and therefore require multi-disciplinary research,” said Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, director of the Andlinger Center and the Theodora D. ’78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering. “Ambitious projects like these need a place where a diversity of experts can come together and receive support on a holistic level. That’s where the Andlinger Center and our Innovation Award comes in- to provide financial and administrative backing for projects with big implications for society that could ultimately yield solutions in service of humanity.”

The “Rapid Switch team seeks to expedite the shift to low-carbon energy by identifying barriers – technical, resource, social, political, economic – that may arise in the transition away from fossil fuel use. For the first investigations, the team will study factors that influence the pace of decarbonization of the electricity grid in the U.S. and India. The Andlinger Center-funded work is part of an international collaboration initiated by Chris Greig, the Andlinger Center’s newest Gerhard R. Andlinger Visiting Fellow in Energy and the Environment from The University of Queensland, Australia. Eric Larson, senior research engineer and head of the Energy Systems Analysis Group at the Andlinger Center and co-PI on the project with Elke Weber, Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, said the project has the potential to break new ground in advancing decarbonization efforts globally. The project draws on multiple fields including psychology, public policy, complex systems modeling, engineering, and energy systems analysis to address the root problems that stymie environmental progress. Collaborators also include researchers at the University of Queensland’s Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University, Tsinghua University, and the Indian Institutes of Technology at Bombay and at Delhi. The award supports the project for two years.

Peter Jaffe, associate director for research at the Andlinger Center and the William L. Knapp ’47 Professor of Civil Engineering spoke to the significance of the project. “When a large group of faculty members, researchers, departments or institutions collaborate on a single endeavor, it’s a meaningful one, and it has huge potential for impact. These types of projects advance multiple fields and yield solutions to real world issues.”

The second project is titled “Climate Forces Across Scales: Analysis of Fluid Dynamic Impacts on Buildings and Infrastructure with Full Similarity Unsteady Flow Tunnel. Using a new, one-of-a kind high-pressure wind tunnel, the researchers are exploring how extreme wind moves around large buildings and infrastructure, with the aim of improving buildings as well as wind farm design for electricity production.  Forrest Meggers, assistant professor of architecture and the Andlinger Center, uses the pressurized wind tunnel to reproduce extreme wind conditions and model how they interact with building materials and large infrastructure up to 100 times the size of the model. The team studies how the air moves around a building’s edges to understand the risk of fracture, how buildings lose heat due to wind, and how the wind may mitigate or perpetuate urban heat island effect. One way that Marcus Hultmark, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will use the tunnel is to study how wind flows around utility scale wind turbines, which may have implications for optimizing wind farm design. The tunnel is currently under construction on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus. The project team hopes to use experiments in the tunnel to both verify data from computer models and to use alongside climate and weather models to predict which buildings and parts of a city are most vulnerable in times of extreme wind.  The project spans the realms of architecture, civil and environmental engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and climate science. The team hopes to make buildings, infrastructure, and cities more resilient to the effects of climate change, and better able to manage extreme weather and intense resource demand. The award supports the project for 18 months.

The Andlinger Center innovation award supports innovative research that advances solutions to global energy and environmental issues. Proposals for funding are being accepted with a deadline of March 15, 2019. Learn more about this funding opportunity at the Andlinger Center, and about past awardees.

 

Full project teams:

Rapid Switch-

Eric Larson Senior Research Engineer, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
Elke Weber Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School; Associate Director for Education, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
Chris Grieg Gerhard R. Andlinger Visiting Fellow in Energy and Environment
Tom Kreutz Energy Systems Modeler, Energy Systems Analysis Group
Simon Levin James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Denise Mauzerall Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School
Karl Bandilla Associate Research Scholar, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Marc Fleurbaey Robert E. Kuenne Professor in Economics and Humanistic Studies; Professor of Public Affairs and the University Center for Human Values
Rob Socolow Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Dan Steingart Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
Claire White Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

Climate Forces Across Scales-

Forrest Meggers Assistant Professor of Architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment; Co-Director, Program in Architecture and Engineering; Robert K. Root University Preceptor
Marcus Hultmark Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Elie Bou-Zeid Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Director, Program in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources
Sigrid Adriaenssens Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Luc Deike Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute
Guy Nordenson Professor of Architecture
Ning Lin Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Gabriel Vecchi Professor of Geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute

Corporations and Industry in the Race to Net-Zero Emissions: The Andlinger Center 2021 Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.Register now
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