By Sharon Adarlo
From liquid metal walls for nuclear fusion reactors to battery storage for electric vehicles, Princeton University researchers presented their work on innovative technologies and potential solutions for ensuring the world’s energy and environmental future at a May 9th event meant to further University research collaborations with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.
The half-day event, hosted by ExxonMobil at the Princeton Marriott at Forrestal, featured 10 Princeton faculty members speaking to an audience of over 200 ExxonMobil researchers. The gathering showcased faculty presentations highlighting the current state of basic research in energy and environmental technologies, promising solutions in their respective research areas, and the breakthroughs necessary to make significant impact. Each of the three sessions included a Q & A with faculty, and sessions were interspersed with breaks for networking and further discussions. ExxonMobil is a member of Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership (E-ffiliates), a membership-based program administered by Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
“Academic-industrial partnerships are key to solving the huge challenges we face in providing clean energy to all while mitigating the impact of climate change. This event is so important because it fosters crucial connections and dialogue to make those solutions possible,” 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.
To open the event, Loo gave the welcoming remarks and a summary of E-ffiliates’ mission: to enable academic and industry collaboration that enhances teacher-student-practitioner interactions and promotes technology transfer between Princeton University and its corporate partners to address global energy needs and environmental concerns. Loo also touched on ExxonMobil’s history with the program, which began in 2015. At the heels of this partnership’s second anniversary, ExxonMobil has provided more than $4 million to fund 11 basic research projects on campus, with discussions of additional ones on the horizon.
“The future of energy is your business. The future of energy is our mission,” said Loo during her welcoming statement. “Our collaboration makes sense because our goals are aligned on advancing research and sparking positive action in response to climate change. This partnership with ExxonMobil is also a model for how an academic institution can effectively work hand in hand with industry.”
During his opening remarks, Nazeer Bhore, manager, Lead Gen and Breakthrough Research at ExxonMobil, conveyed that this is an exciting time in the energy world – tantamount to when oil was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859 – and urged the audience to engage with the researchers outside ExxonMobil. He also tasked the crowd to consider how ExxonMobil could learn and benefit from the research presented, and work together to help advance energy technologies.
The event concluded later that afternoon with a poster session, which featured the work of 18 research teams, many who are working on collaborative projects that have been funded by ExxonMobil via E-ffiliates. Postdoctoral researchers and grad students who co-worked on the projects and are designated ExxonMobil Emerging Technology Fellows, explained the research to the crowd of ExxonMobil officials and researchers.
“ExxonMobil has been a great partner in catalyzing research that will make broad impacts on the energy and the environmental landscape,” said Mark Zondlo, associate director for external partnerships at the center and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “It’s been exciting and encouraging to see the collaborations and connections happening between the University and ExxonMobil.”