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The Global Climate and Energy Project awards $9 million to researchers at Stanford and collaborating institutions

Stanford, California—February 10, 2005—Franklin M. Orr, Jr., director of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), today announced seven new research grants totaling approximately $9 million to Stanford faculty and collaborating researchers at several U.S. and international institutions. Investigators will use the support to conduct fundamental research in energy technologies aimed at greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The new projects fall into a number of technical areas including fuel cells, energy production through biological processes, and the capture, separation and geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide. They will be funded over a three-year period beginning in 2005, bringing the total number of projects supported to 22 with total funding of approximately $26 million.

"We continue to seek high quality, step-out research that has the potential to have a significant impact on lowering greenhouse gas emissions," said Orr. "Granting these awards expands our portfolio both in terms of research topics and institutions involved in GCEP."

The grants are the first GCEP awards to include external institutions. The non-Stanford researchers are from the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), the Delft University of Technology (TU-Delft) in the Netherlands, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zürich), the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the University of Montana. Discussions between Stanford and these external institutions are now under way to establish subcontracts that are required before funds are officially transferred.

"We are very pleased to be selected to receive a research grant from GCEP," commented Joop Schoonman of TU-Delft. "I believe that participation by our university can add an international perspective to this impressive initiative focused on one of our most daunting global challenges."

Launched at Stanford in December 2002, GCEP is a collaborative effort of the scientific and engineering community at academic research institutions and industry. Its purpose is to conduct fundamental, pre-commercial research that would foster the development of a global energy system with significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The GCEP sponsors—ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger, and Toyota—intend to invest a total of $225 million over 10 years in GCEP to seek new solutions for our energy future through research in a spectrum of technical areas.

Two projects will investigate the basic science underlying the operation of fuel cells:

  • "Efficient Interconversion of Chemical and Electrical Energy: Electrocatalysis with Discrete Transition Metal Complexes," led by Christopher Chidsey, T. Daniel Stack, and Robert Waymouth of the Department of Chemistry, Stanford University

  • "Modeling, Simulation and Characterization of Atomic Force Microscopy Measurements for Ionic Transport and Impedance in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells," led by Peter Pinsky of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and David Barnett of the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
Three research efforts will address potential breakthroughs in energy conversion through biological processes:
  • "Genetic Engineering of Cellulose Accumulation," led by Chris Somerville of the Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

  • "Is Bio Electricity Possible (and Economically Feasible)?" led by Friedrich Prinz of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, and Arthur Grossman of the Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution of Washington

  • "Directed Evolution and Genomic Analysis of Novel Yeast Species for More Efficient Biomass Conversion," led by Gavin Sherlock of the Department of Genetics, Stanford University, and Frank Rosenzweig of the Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana
Two projects will apply novel approaches to the area of capture, separation and geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide:
  • "Advanced Membrane Reactors in Energy Systems," led by Daniel Jansen, Jan Wilco Dijkstra, Ruud van den Brink and Paul Pex of ECN, and Cor J. Peters and Joop Schoonman of TU-Delft

  • "A Numerical Simulation Framework for the Design, Management and Optimization of CO2 Sequestration in Subsurface Formations," led by Hamdi Tchelepi, Louis Durlofsky and Khalid Aziz of the Department of Petroleum Engineering, Stanford University

"This award provides my laboratory the opportunity to work closely with our University of Montana collaborator to address one of the world's most significant problems," said award recipient Sherlock of Stanford. "Through GCEP, our joint expertise can now be brought to bear on making a cost-effective and environmentally benign biofuel using novel yeasts capable of efficiently producing ethanol from waste plant material."

In the future, GCEP plans to fund research in other technical areas at Stanford, and at other universities and institutions around the world. It is currently conducting assessments of several areas to identify technical barriers and opportunities for game-changing research.

"With these new awards, GCEP is taking another large step towards becoming an important player in supporting energy research that will have a long-term global impact," commented Philippe Lacour-Gayet of Schlumberger and chair of the GCEP Management Committee. "The potential significance of the research to be conducted under these awards is enormous."

 
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