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DOE looks to SUNY for energy innovation

It took only six months for Stony Brook University to hit an energy research grand slam, earning major federal funding on four projects poised to revolutionize the world’s energy technology. 

The grants, totaling nearly $5.7 million, enable faculty from the Department of Mechanical Engineering to conduct research on new and innovative ways to improve energy efficiency and create cleaner energy systems, with a path in place for collaborative research, industry partnerships, and commercialization. 

How did a state university suddenly secure such funding and rise to rank alongside renowned energy research institutions like MIT and Stanford? The approach is two-fold, said Stony Brook University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis N. Assanis — empower newly hired faculty researchers to lead, and make veteran faculty accessible to them, resulting in an innovative team spirit of collaboration. 

“We’re fostering a unique culture similar to a start-up,” said Assanis. “Stony Brook’s culture is enabling innovation.” Such innovation is proven by the fact that Stony Brook researchers submitted four Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) proposals, and each was accepted. 

Stony Brook’s four groundbreaking ideas that got the ARPA-E green light include an “on demand” targeted air conditioning system that reduces energy costs by 30 percent; a system that condenses water vapor from power plants to reduce or eliminate cooling water use; a novel microemulsion absorption system for supplemental power plant cooling; and a compact, efficient, inexpensive and clean natural gas generator designed to provide electricity and heat in residential homes. 

 “Our recent faculty hires are infusing new energy into academic departments. We recruit aggressively innovative people who care about translating their science to products that will make an impact,” said Assanis. “In addition to their legacy of excellence, we find that our veteran faculty are rejuvenated when our new hires bring new ideas and excitement to the field.” 

Jon Longtin, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is one such veteran who joined Stony Brook faculty in 1996. “The recent round of ARPA-E awards is a testament to the power of team building and synergy among faculty members,” said Longtin.

Tags Tags: Stony Brook University , Research

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