`
 

Energy Distribution & Use

 
 
Photo by 3alexd/iStock / Getty Images

Smart grid technologies

A smart grid refers to a host of technologies which work together to modernize the electrical power grid.  These devices offer two-way communication, which allows utilities to know what consumers are using and producing in real time, and gives them the opportunity to adjust.  This allows larger penetrations of renewable energy on the grid, while maintaining reliability.  Current research includes development of new smart technologies, cybersecurity measures, and interconnection standards.

 
Photo by GAPred/iStock / Getty Images

alternative fuel vehicles

Alternative fuel vehicles are an important part of a sustainable energy economy.  Electric, fuel cell, and biofuel vehicles can dramatically reduce green house gas emissions from the transportation sector.  Current research aims to reduce costs and the environmental impact of fuel production, improve battery life and charge rates, and improve infrastructure for wide-scale adoption of these vehicles.

 
Photo by Chesky_W/iStock / Getty Images

building science & energy efficiency

The easiest way to reduce our green house gas emissions is to use less electricity. Energy efficiency is therefore a very important piece of the puzzle. Current research aims to improve the energy efficiency of household electronics, lighting, and appliances, improve insulation and window performance, and develop automation to optimize building energy usage.

 

supercapacitors

Supercapacitors are capacitors with very high capacitance values.  They will be critical for stabilizing voltage in power lines when more renewable (variable) power gets put on the grid. Research aims to enhance stability using lower cost materials.

 
Photo by yangphoto/iStock / Getty Images

inverters and power electronics

Inverters and power electronics allow us to convert and control electrical power.  As our energy landscape changes, so too must the devices on our power grid.  Research aims to reduce the size, response time, and cost of inverters and power electronics for clean energy applications.

 
Photo by zrfphoto/iStock / Getty Images

Energy distribution and use policy

Energy distribution and use policy provides a powerful force for the implementation of a sustainable energy economy.  Research aims to evaluate the efficacy of existing energy policy, and make new policy suggestions.