The World’s energy challenges will not be solved by a single researcher or even a single research institution. The sharing of ideas, information, and resources is key to successfully advancing energy sciences and exploring new energy technologies. The EMS Energy Institute has always had a multi-disciplinary focus and was founded to support and connect energy researchers from within the College and around the University. In keeping with that mission, the EMS Energy Institute is excited to announce a new funding opportunity specifically designed to strengthen innovative, multi-investigator research and expand industrial engagement.

The EMS Energy Institute is already organized to enable researchers from various energy-related disciplines to work closely and share ideas. The Institute was established through the consolidation of various labs and centers within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, but has since expanded to include faculty collaborations from the College of Engineering, the College of Agriculture, and other campus departments and institutes. Institute leadership facilitates these collaborations between Penn State faculty members as well as connects faculty and students with external researchers and stakeholders.

This year marks the first time the Institute has made funds available to our faculty for the purpose of expanding these connections. The goal of the new award is to encourage future collaborations and external funding opportunities by establishing new initiatives, which, if successful, will transition to self-supported research centers, consortia, or industry membership programs led by Institute-affiliated faculty. The Institute will award funds based on eligible proposals. The funds can then be renewed up to two additional times, contingent on the availability of funds and favorable annual reviews.

Industry-driven research is central to the EMS Energy Institute’s research endeavors and the institute faculty and staff have extensive experience in administering research centers. Around 19 percent of our funding comes directly from industry. In addition, Institute-affiliated faculty members have managed many research centers and industry-driven consortia with funds from government awards or industry memberships. The centers’ focuses have ranged from carbon products and electricity markets to stripper wells, gas storage, unconventional resources, and gas flooding. Along the same lines, the Institute administers a Joint Center for Energy Research in collaboration with Dalian University in China. By working closely with industry, researchers can ensure their work is relevant to current challenges and students have the opportunity to make connections that lead to internships and jobs. These activities have brought together faculty, students, and current industry professionals from around the Globe.

Our hope is to support new research centers that will attract external funding, advance our expertise, provide opportunities for students, and sustain research long after the three-year funding period ends. The Institute will award the first funds in July 2014. Researchers will be able to apply during the call for proposals each year and the Institute may fund multiple awards depending on the availability of funds.

For the funding period of July 2014 - June 2015 the Institute is funding two initiatives: the Center for Corrosion and Electrochemistry in Extreme Environments, directed by Sergei N. Lvov, professor of energy and mineral engineering; and the Center for Sustainable Electric Power Systems, co-directed by Mort Webster, associate professor of energy and mineral engineering, and Uday V. Shanbhag, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering.