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Faculty seed grants are awarded for research proposals with a strong potential for high impact on energy supply and use. These “proof of concept” awards bridge theory to early experiments and analysis. Seed grants are awarded each year by the Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE), the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC) and the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy. The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) also provides funding for exploratory research. The Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium (BAPVC) awards grants for research that will reduce the cost of utility-scale solar modules.

Below is a list of recent grant recipients. For details about previous awards, see "More Information" on the right.

2013 Seed Grant Recipients

Precourt Institute for Energy
Funding Year Research Topic Description Principal Investigtors
2013 Functionalized Graphene-Platinum Composites for Fuel Cells The investigators plan to use a new material system they have recently developed to reduce dramatically the amount of expensive platinum needed in...

David Goldhaber-Gordon, physics; Fritz Prinz, mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering

2013 Self-Regenerating Fuel Cells Running on Natural Gas Certain types of fuel cells can convert natural gas into electricity and back again with very high efficiency, eliminating the traditional fuel cell...

Robert Sinclair, materials science and engineering; William Chueh, materials science and engineering and the Precourt Institute.

2013 An Electricity/CO2 Market Simulation Incorporating Renewables Research using games often reveals effects of human actors in economic outcomes that standard economic models do not foresee. In a Graduate School of...

Mark C. Thurber, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development; Frank A. Wolak, Economics

2013 Making Large Wind Farms More Productive, Less Expensive Power output by large wind farms is typically 25 percent less than what it should be due to rear windmills operating in the turbulent wakes of those...

Sanjiva K. Lele, aeronautics and astronautics, and mechanical engineering; John Weyant, management science and engineering

Funded by the TomKat Center with support from PIE

Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC)
Funding Year Research Topic Description Principal Investigtors
2013 Trip Estimation Techniques to Better Manage Hybrid Vehicle Batteries The environmental and economic value of hybrid vehicles is maximized by using the least amount of fossil fuel and exhausting battery power before...

John D. Fox, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory/Applied Physics; William Dally, computer science; Jonathan Levav, Graduate School of Business

2013 Improving Predictions of the Efficiency of Natural Ventilation in Buildings Designing buildings that rely on natural ventilation for temperature control is a relatively new science. Due to limited analytical tools, such...

Gianluca Iaccarino, mechanical engineering; Martin Fischer, civil and environmental engineering

2013 Better Decision Making for Policies and Programs to Reduce Electricity Use This project seeks to aid decision making in energy-efficiency initiatives from government policies to business campaigns. Researchers will first...

Roy Pea, Education; Michael Bernstein, computer science; Martha Russell, H-STAR (Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute)

2013 Visualization of Smart Meter Data for Critical Peak Pricing Most electric utilities have multiple programs offering customers financial incentives for using electricity efficiently and reducing use when power...

Ram Rajagopal, civil and environmental engineering; June A. Flora, H-STAR

2013 Efficiency and Group Behavior in Power Distribution Networks The electricity system of the future is expected to include many local energy devices that can either generate electricity, like rooftop solar panels...

Ramesh Johari, management science and engineering; Ram Rajagopal, civil and environmental engineering

TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy
Funding Year Research Topic Description Principal Investigtors
2013 Electrochemical Splitting of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide In theory, excess power created by intermittent renewable power can be used to remove CO2 from the environment and extract carbon monoxide, which can...

Mark Cappelli, mechanical engineering; Reginald Mitchell, mechanical engineering; Tsuyohito Ito, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Japan.

2013 Making Large Wind Farms More Productive, Less Expensive Power output by large wind farms is typically 25 percent less than what it should be due to rear windmills operating in the turbulent wakes of those...

Sanjiva K. Lele, aeronautics and astronautics, and mechanical engineering; John Weyant, management science and engineering

Funded by the TomKat Center with support from PIE

2013 Junctionless Solar Cell for Enabling Third-Generation Photovoltaics This project will seek to increase efficiency and decrease manufacturing costs of solar photovoltaic panels by developing junctionless solar cells...

Krishna Saraswat, electrical engineering