Photo by Joe Lewis/Flickr.
By Kevin Matyi
With students away, researchers still play — and they mean businesses.
With summer in full swing, most students are out working a seasonal job, taking a well-deserved break or preparing for the upcoming semester. Many are doing some combination of the three. Though most of the students away from school, Stony Brook University is far from lifeless. Researchers constantly write proposals for new projects and continue working on their funded projects. Most are funded via grants from outside organizations — some worth millions of dollars.
On July 9, Stony Brook University announced that it had received its fourth grant out of the past four proposals to the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, also known as ARPA-E, in the past six months.
Provost Dennis Assanis said that “we cultivated this success at Stony Brook. If you’re lucky, it happens once. Four times is not luck anymore.”
The latest grant is for $750,000 which will be used over the next three years to research and develop a small, efficient, clean natural gas generator. Assistant Professor Sotirios Mamalis is leading the team.
The first of the ARPA-E grants, announced on January 8, gave $2 million to develop an air vent capable of modulating air flow in order to save energy. This grant will also span the next three years. The project is being led by Assistant Professor Ya Wang.
The vent, called the Electroactive Smart Air-Conditioner Vent Registers, or eSaver, will have up to an estimated 30 percent energy savings by changing air distribution, velocity and temperature in commercial and residential areas.
According to the Stony Brook University press release, each unit is expected to cost less that $20 and save $60 per year per unit.
The second grant is being led by the University of Maryland with Stony Brook University as a partner.
The project will use a liquid absorbent recently developed at the University of Maryland which uses a process known as “microemulsion,” as a coolant in power plants to more efficiently eject waste heat from the system.
The final grant, which Stony Brook University announced on the same day as the natural gas generator, is worth $2.5 million. Professor Jon Longtin is leading the team researching how to condense water vapor in power plants in order to recycle it as coolant for higher efficiency.
The Stony Brook University team is collaborating with Brookhaven National Laboratory, and is also partnered with United Technologies Center and the Gas Technology Institute.
If successful, the official press release says that in addition to making the plants more efficient, the new technology could allow for power plants to be built further inland and away from large bodies of water.
University president Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said that in total the four projects have earned Stony Brook University “nearly $5.7 million in funding,” and that they “showcase Stony Brook’s dedication to researching and developing technologies that will have a major impact on how we generate and consume energy globally.”