Left to right: Eric Herbolzheimer, section head of engineering physics and senior scientific advisor at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, and Lynn Loo, director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University.
(Photograph credit: ExxonMobil.)
By Sharon Adarlo
Princeton University researchers working in collaboration with scientists at ExxonMobil’s research arm will be conducting innovative research on batteries and solar cells, as well as Arctic sea ice, ocean absorption of carbon dioxide, and low energy plasmas.
The projects’ announcement comes after an exhaustive study of proposals and research areas that will advance sustainable energy initiatives and the understanding of climate change’s impact. This collaboration was sparked by ExxonMobil’s pledge to contribute $5 million over five years to Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership, a program administered by the University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment to catalyze collaborations between researchers on campus and in industry for finding sustainable energy and environmental solutions.
Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at Princeton will join the lead researchers in investigating the five selected topics.
“This is a great endeavor that will propel innovation forward,” said Lynn Loo, director of the Andlinger Center. “The collaboration will enable Princeton researchers, including students, to understand how practitioners in industry balance the world’s growing need for energy and concerns for the environment. It’s exciting to have such groundbreaking research happening on campus.”
“The projects the partnership is funding will have potential impacts in the scientific understanding of our environment and pave the way for new energy sources or ways to capture power,” said Eric Herbolzheimer, section head of engineering physics and senior scientific advisor at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. “As an example, one of the projects explores the use of photovoltaics that could potentially be installed as thin-film coatings on buildings.”
Details of the five projects:
- Polymer photovoltaics with Lynn Loo, director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Theodora D. ’78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering, and professor of chemical and biological engineering.
The research will examine new polymeric photovoltaic (solar) materials and their application as coatings and building materials. The goal is to understand how structural heterogeneities in these polymer-based materials impact the performance of solar cells that incorporate them.
- Extending battery lifetime and cycle efficiency with Daniel Steingart, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
The research will investigate batteries used in electric vehicles and how they degrade by using recently developed investigative tools created in Steingart’s laboratory. The project will also examine how these batteries may be used on the electric grid.
- Arctic sea-ice modeling with Alistair Adcroft, research oceanographer, and Olga Sergienko, research glaciologist, at Princeton University’s Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program/NOAA-Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.
The research will focus on creating and advancing sea-ice models in order to understand the conditions and factors governing Arctic sea-ice cycles. The goal is to create more accurate long-range and seasonal forecasts of sea-ice melting and formation.
- Role of the ocean in the future of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels with Daniel Sigman, Dusenbury Professor of Geological and Geophysical Sciences.
The research will investigate how past periods of warming have impacted the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle. These findings will provide clues to how quickly the ocean will absorb carbon dioxide that is emitted by human activities.
- Plasma physics with Egemen Kolemen, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and Yiguang Ju, Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The goal of this research is to examine the role and effectiveness of low-energy plasmas on energy-related chemical processes. One such example is how plasma can convert natural gas into larger molecules for use in producing chemical feedstocks or fuels.
Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership enables academic and industry collaboration that enhances teacher-student-practitioner interactions and promotes technology transfer to address global energy needs and environmental concerns. Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership is an initiative of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, which is a part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, in strong partnership with Princeton Environmental Institute, the School of Architecture, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
The mission of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment is to develop solutions to ensure our energy and environmental future. To this end, the center supports a vibrant and expanding program of research and teaching in the areas of sustainable energy technologies, energy efficiency, and environmental protection and remediation. A chief goal of the center is to translate fundamental knowledge into practical solutions that enable sustainable energy production and the protection of the environment and global climate from energy-related anthropogenic change.