Tuesday, September 9, 2014

By Shea Winton EMS Energy Institute Writer/Editor and Public Relations Specialist

Since Penn State established the Penn State and Dalian University of Technology (DUT) Joint Center for Energy Research (JECR) in 2011, the Center has been actively supporting faculty and student exchanges and research collaborations at both universities.

In the three years since the JCER’s start, affiliated researchers have published 35 refereed journal articles on energy-related research, including bio-energy, CO2 conversion to chemicals and fuels, 3D nano-structured porous materials, novel carbon materials, new catalytic processes for hydrogen production, shape-selective catalysis for fine chemicals synthesis, biomass conversion to chemicals, and fundamental catalysis for clean energy conversion. In addition, faculty and students have continued to travel between the two universities in order to work on joint projects, and both universities have hosted visiting professors and graduate students.

Many of Penn State’s 12 JCER faculty affiliates have visited DUT, including Tom Richard, director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment (PSIEE), who gave an invited lecture on biomass energy research in the DUT School of Chemical Engineering, and Bruce Logan, Evan Pugh Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was appointed a visiting professor at DUT. In March 2012, Penn State President Emeritus Rodney Erickson and Michael Adewumi, vice provost for Global Programs led a Penn State delegation to visit DUT for the third Penn State-Dalian Joint Energy Workshop. More recently, JCER-affiliated faculty member Mike Janik, associate professor, Chemical Engineering, visited DUT to lecture and collaborate and was selected for a Haitian Scholar Award from DUT in 2013. Chunshan Song, JCER co-director, spent a part of his sabbatical leave during the 2013-2014 academic year at DUT for collaborative research supported through a QianRen Distinguished Visiting Professorship, awarded by the Chinese government.

Several faculty affiliates from DUT have also visited Penn State. DUT President Emeritus Jinping OU and Vice President Guiling Ning led two delegations to visit Penn State in 2009 and 2011. In addition, the EMS Energy Institute has hosted four visiting professors form DUT, and there are currently three active graduate students in the John and Willie Leone Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering who are supported on scholarships from DUT.

Over the past three years, the JCER has led to many developments in energy research and enriched educational experiences for students. Going forward, JCER researchers will continue to build connections and expand research efforts. One new effort that evolved from JECR connections is an undergraduate study abroad program with DUT. During May - June 2014, a group of seven Penn State undergraduate students studied at DUT as part of a six-week study abroad program led by Zhen Lei, assistant professor of energy and environmental economics. The program will take place again next year, and the JCER will provide some student support.

The JCER is a research endeavor between Penn State and DUT in China. The goal of the Center is to facilitate collaborative and multi-disciplinary research in energy and energy-related environmental sciences and technology, and serve as a hub for global education. Dr. Chunshan Song, Distinguished Professor of fuel science and chemical engineering, director of the EMS Energy Institute, and associate director of PSIEE, co-directs the JCER with Dr. Jieshan Qiu, professor of chemical and materials engineering, associate director of DUT Energy Center, and associate dean for the faculty of Chemical and Environmental Technology and Life Sciences at DUT. The EMS Energy Institute coordinates the JCER activities on behalf of PSIEE.

DUT is one of the top national universities in China with strengths in various engineering fields and business management, especially in the fields of Chemical Engineering (including Energy Chemical Engineering), Mechanics, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, Environmental Engineering, and Management, and has strong research in energy and environmental areas and chemical engineering. The university has over 40,000 students and over 3,000 faculty members.