News and information from the EMS Energy Institute.

  1. Energy Task Force members visit Penn State
  2. Penn State to compete in 2009 Solar Decathlon; Brownson to lead team
  3. Faculty Spotlight: Sharon Miller
  4. EMS Energy Institute holds Celebration of Accomplishments
  5. Upcoming Events
  6. Contracts/Grants

Energy Task Force members visit Penn State


January 22, 2008
The Daily Collegian

By Brandon Taylor, Collegian Staff Writer

State Representative Stan Saylor
Stan Saylor

Penn State could be an integral part of new state energy efficiency legislation and economic growth in the area, two state representatives said Friday during a visit to University Park.

Penn State is the leading energy-conservation university in the state," said state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York. "We're here to see what part it should play in research and job creation."

Saylor, chairman of the House Republican Energy Task Force, and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, took a tour of Penn State's energy and research facilities to see what projects were already in progress and to determine what policies to propose concerning environmental issues, Saylor said.

These policies would center heavily on Penn State energy research involvement, Benninghoff said, and some policies could result in tax deductions and other benefits for citizens and businesses that implement energy efficiency measures.

"Our task force is not the only answer," Benninghoff said. "Penn State is the crown jewel in that equation."

Additional state money would be provided to Penn State to facilitate research, Saylor added.

State Representative Kerry Benninghoff
Kerry Benninghoff

The tour included visits to the EMS Energy Institute, Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, professor of environmental engineering Bruce Logan's microbial fuel cell lab, and the cellulosic bioconversion lab, said Tom Richard, director of Penn State Institutes for Energy and the Environment.

"There was a good deal of interest in clean coal technology, the nuclear engineering program and various types of bioenergy research," Richard said. "There was also strong interest in how well Penn State is working with industry to implement our discoveries in real-world applications."

Another point of interest was how the university could attract energy companies, Saylor said.

"There's a shortage of engineers in Pennsylvania," Saylor said. "We'd like to see more engineering students graduate. One of our policies would be to offer loan forgiveness for graduate students who stay in Pennsylvania."

Funding research is an important factor in spurring economic growth, as businesses and economic developers are attracted to locations where states are investing in energy research and demonstration programs, Richard said.

Penn State to compete in 2009 Solar Decathlon; Brownson to lead team


January 24, 2008, Penn State Live - After finishing fourth in last year's Solar Decathlon, Penn State will compete in the 2009 contest to be held again on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The Solar Decathlon is an international competition that challenges college students to design, build and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient home powered by sunlight, including electricity, hot water and interior climate control.

The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Penn State's entry, dubbed "Natural Fusion," is one of only 20 invited to participate in the September 2009 competition. This will be the second time the University has competed in the Solar Decathlon. Its 2007 entry was called "MorningStar."

Penn State students built not one but two solar homes for last year's Solar Decathlon, one intended for the competition and this straw-bale rendition was finished during the summer and currently serves the needs of Chief Dull Knife College on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana. Penn State students also spent time showing local residents how to use solar power and energy efficient technologies. (Photo: Kaye Evans-Lutterodt/Solar Decathlon)
Solar Decathlon

The team will be led by Jeffrey Brownson, assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering and Kyle Macht, a student in architectural engineering. Natural Fusion will involve students and faculty from the Colleges of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Engineering and Arts and Architecture.

The team's faculty advisers include Lisa Iulo, assistant professor of architecture; Andrew Lau, associate professor of engineering design; David Riley, associate professor of architectural engineering; Seth Blumsack, assistant professor of energy policy; James Freihaut, associate professor of architectural engineering; Moses Ling, associate professor of architectural engineering; Stuart Echols, assistant professor of landscape architecture; and Daniel Linzell, associate professor of civil engineering.

Sharon Miller: Inspiring Students for Careers in Science


Sharon Miller

Getting students excited about science often involves more than showing them the inside of a textbook or a classroom. Dr. Sharon F. Miller, director of the Office of Student Development (OSD) at the EMS Energy Institute, knows that affording students the opportunity to participate in research can make the difference in helping them discover whether a career in science is right for them.

“My whole goal is to try and get students into a different environment, hands-on and get them thinking critically,” Dr. Miller says.

In her capacity as director for the OSD, Dr. Miller is responsible for coordinating programs that focus on facilitating the educational experience for students beyond the classroom.

As the present concern for a clean and energy efficient society heightens, so does the demand for a future generation of scientists. Educational programs, like those offered through the OSD, may be instrumental in developing future leaders in the field of science.

Dr. Miller says there has been an increase in students involved in energy research since the office’s establishment almost two years ago, which is especially apparent in female numbers. Programs targeting girls and minorities have been very important to the OSD’s mission, she says.

Sharon Falcone Miller, research associate at the Energy Institute and director of the Office of Student Development, talks to high school students about the heating value of various fuels at the 24th Pennsylvania Envirothon's poster session.

Opportunities available through the OSD for K-12 students include school visits, summer science camps, Science Lions (a graduate student educational outreach group sponsored by the OSD), and other various outreach activities. Undergraduate students at Penn State can take advantage of internships, fellowships, wage/payroll positions, and senior/honors thesis research opportunities at the EMS Energy Institute.

Also a part-time research associate at the Institute, Dr. Miller is focused on investigating the inorganic portion of fuels and what environmental impacts result when different fuels are utilized.

She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Geology, and later her Ph.D. in Fuel Science at Penn State. As a researcher, Dr. Miller says the hands-on and problem-solving aspects of her work appeal to her, as well as seeing how research can translate to the outside world and ultimately impact lives.

When her research duties are paired with her student development workload, it is not surprising that Dr. Miller has her hands full. Nevertheless, she is constantly looking for new ways to get young people involved in energy research.

One emerging initiative is the establishment of an international exchange program, specifically for the field of energy engineering. She says having a program where there is an exchange between universities is advantageous to both parties because students are much more likely to be set up with research programs abroad that are specific to their interests.

“If you’re a little proactive and you seek out partnerships then your chance for a successful experience is much better,” she says.

Similarly, an industrial internship program for Penn State undergrads with the specific focus of energy engineering is also in the works and may operate in conjunction with the Engineering Cooperative Education & Professional Internship Program in the College of Engineering.

Another initiative Dr. Miller is pursuing is a mentorship program where undergraduates will be paired with graduate students and assist them in a research environment. Too often students at the undergraduate level don’t ever get the exposure to a research setting, she says.

“The grad students get help on a research project...and it benefits the undergrads because they get that experience,” she says. “It helps them decide if they’re interested in grad school because it gives them a better idea of what it’s all about.”

Research opportunities at the EMS Energy Institute are open to undergrads from all Colleges of study so long as the interests of the individuals match the area of research. Dr. Miller says it ultimately takes the support of the faculty and the departments to pull off successful programs.

“I think there’s a long-term commitment to the whole-student centered idea,” she says. “And I like to think that the Institute’s commitment reflects the University’s educational commitment.”

EMS Energy Institute holds Celebration of Accomplishments



The EMS Energy Institute held its 2nd annual Celebration of Accomplishments at the Gamble Mill last Saturday evening, which awarded the outstanding work of several individuals.

Congratulations to the following faculty, staff and students recognized at the banquet.

Congratulations to the following faculty, staff and students recognized at the 2nd Annual Celebration of Accomplishments banquet.

Student Achievement Award
Yi Yang
Meredith Bembenic
Dirk van Essendelft
Ramanthan Sundrararaman
Masoud Almarri

Dedicated Employee Award
Vince Zello
Ron Wincek
Dave Johnson
Elizabeth Young
Xiaoxing Wang

Student Service Award
Jiahua Guo
Laura Bradley

Administrative Staff Excellence Award
Erin Rogers
Sarah Haner

Distinguished Service Award
Sharon Miller
Joel Morrison

Research Achievement Award
Angela Lueking
Serguei Lvov

Erin Rogers receives the Administrative Staff Excellence Award last Saturday.
Erin Rogers

Upcoming Events


November 17-18: The 2008 Pennsylvania Wind Energy Symposium: Power for the Future will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. The symposium will explore the workforce and economic development opportunities as well as the financial, technical, and siting challenges involved in harnessing wind energy.



The Energy Institute received over $3.4 million in contracts and grants in the third and fourth quarters of the 2007-2008 fiscal year.

Burgess Clifford, Caroline; Solvent Extraction of Coal to Produce Feedstock for a Laboratory Scale Delayed Coker; Consortium for Premium Carbon Products from Coal

Burgess Clifford, Caroline; Coker Runs; Industry

Cannon, Fred; Anthracite Fines for Foundries and Graphite Substitution; Consortium for Premium Carbon Products from Coal

Flemings, Peter; Geofluids Consortium Membership; ConocoPhillips; Exxon Mobil Corporation; BHP Billiton Corporation; Anadarko Petroleum Corporation; Shell International; BP Exploration Operating Company Limited; Industry

Gul, Omer; Production of Graphite from Coke Obtained from Delayed Coking of Decant Oil-Coal Blends; Consortium for Premium Carbon Products from Coal

Haight, Joel; Intervention Effectiveness Research; Pittsburgh Research Center

Lvov, Serguei; U.S. Department of Energy

Ma, Xiaoliang; Preparation of Novel Adsorbent from Coal for Adsorptive Removal of Nitrogen from Liquid Fuels; Consortium for Premium Carbon Products from Coal

Matthews, Jonathan; Mitchell, Gary; Coal Characterization; Industry

Matthews, Jonathan; Painter, Paul; Schobert, Harold; Coal Model Representation Creation & Use; Industry

Matthews, Jonathan; Halleck, Phil; Coal Drying; Industry

Miller, Bruce; Mitchell, Gary; Falcone Miller, Sharon; Direct Coal Liquefaction Material Handling Research Proposal; Industry

Miller, Bruce; Industry

Miller, Bruce; Research Boiler Testing; Industry

Painter, Paul; Metallurgical Coke and Other Premium Carbon Products from Coal; Consortium for Premium Carbon Products from Coal

Rajagopalan, Ram; Preparation and Characterization of Boron Containing Carbons Derived from Coal Tar Pitch; Consortium for Premium Carbon Products from Coal

Ryan, Tim; CT Scanning; University

Ryan, Tim; CT Scanning; Industry

Saffer, Demian; Marone, Chris; Laboratory Study of the Mechanics and Physical Properties of the Active San Andreas Fault Zone From Phase II SAFOD Cores; National Science Foundation

Saffer, Demian; Marone, Chris; Laboratory Investigations of Fault Zone Mechanical Behavior and Fluid Overpressure; National Science Foundation

Scaroni, Alan; Gas Storage Technology Consortium

Song, Chunshan; CORE 10 kWe Reformer for TACOM Applications; Industry

Song, Chunshan; Ma, Xiaoliang; Nanoporous Molecular-Basket Sorbents for Removing Hydrogen Sulfide in Syngas fro Alternative Logistic Fuels Synthesis; U.S. Department of Navy

The Energy Institute received over $1.1 million in contracts and grants in the first and second quarters of the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

Boehman, Andre; Clean and Efficient Diesel Locomotive; Industry

Elsworth, Derek; Role of Desorbing Gas on the Energetic of Failure Coal; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Haight, Joel; Performance Measurement Research; Industry

Marone, Chris; The Role of Vibration in Stick Slip Behavior; Los Alamos National Laboratory

Matthews, Johnathan; Enhancing Appalachian Coalbed Methane Extraction by Microwave-Induced Fractures; Industry

Miller, Bruce; Combustion Testing; Industry

Miller, Bruce; TGA Char Oxidation Kinetics; Industry

Miller, Bruce; DTR Pyrolysis Kinetics; Industry

Miller, Bruce; Power Plant Sample Preparation and Analysis; Industry

Morrison, Joel; West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund, Inc.

Ryan, Tim; CT Scanning of Primitive Marsupial Skulls; Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Ryan, Tim; CT Scanning of Fossil Skulls from China; Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Ryan, Tim; CT Scanning of Partial Fossil Skull; Industry

Ryan, Tim; CT Scanning of Fossil Teeth; Industry

asins in the U.S.; Industry

Tim Ryan; Scan fossil skulls; University