Energy Futures is published twice yearly by the MIT Energy Initiative.
Main cover image: Joel Jean G
Design: Tim Blackburn
Updates on the MIT Energy Initiative
A letter from the director
An update on activities of the MIT Energy Initiative. MITEI’s research, education, and outreach programs are spearheaded by Professor Robert C. Armstrong, director.
Women leaders in clean energy gather at MIT
In early November, MITEI and the US Department of Energy co-hosted the fourth annual Women in Clean Energy Symposium. Highlights included panels on clean energy challenges and opportunities and the presentation of awards to eight midcareer women for outstanding achievements in clean energy.
The Future of Solar Energy: A summary and recommendations for policymakers
In May 2015, MIT released The Future of Solar Energy
, a comprehensive report addressing vital questions of how to realize the potential of solar energy to meet a major portion of global electricity demand and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Members of the MIT study team met with congressional and White House officials and distributed this executive summary of their findings.
Solar photovoltaic technologies: Silicon and beyond
(Left to right) Joel Jean of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS),Vladimir Bulović of EECS, Patrick Brown of physics, and their collaborators have performed a rigorous assessment of today’s many commercial and emerging solar photovoltaic technologies and conclude that none should be ruled out.
Discarded car batteries: Recovering material for novel solar cells
Angela Belcher of biological engineering and materials science and engineering (at left), Paula Hammond of chemical engineering, Po-Yen Chen PhD ’15, and others have shown that a novel, high-efficiency, low-cost solar cell can be made using lead recovered from an abundant, old-technology source: lead-acid car batteries.
MIT Utility of the Future study and consortium
The Utility of the Future study is investigating the technical, economic, and regulatory transformations unfolding in the electric power sector as it transitions from a centralized system to a more distributed one due to the integration of multiple distributed resources, including renewable generation.
A battery of molten metals: Low-cost, long-lasting storage for the grid
Donald Sadoway of materials science and engineering (right), David Bradwell MEng '06, PhD '11 (left), and their collaborators have developed a novel molten-metal battery that is low-cost, high-capacity, efficient, long-lasting, and easy to manufacture—characteristics that make it ideal for storing electricity on power grids today and in the future.
Going off grid: Tata researchers tackle rural electrification
At MIT’s Tata Center for Technology and Design, researchers are exploring ways to extend electricity access to rural communities in India using microgrids—independent electricity generation and distribution systems that are flexible in size and can run on available power sources, from wind to hydro to solar.
Cleaning water without the grid
Researchers in the Tata Center for Technology and Design and partner firm Jain Irrigation Systems have developed a solar-powered electrodialysis desalination system that could significantly increase the groundwater available for drinking in Indian villages.
Focus on Faculty
Georgia Perakis: On the road to better energy data
Professor Georgia Perakis uses techniques of operations research and optimization modeling to investigate topics ranging from traffic flows to subsidies for green energy technologies to risk assessment and planning for electric utilities.
Paula Hammond named head of chemical engineering
In July 2015, Paula Hammond ’84, PhD ’93, the David H. Koch (1962) Professor in Engineering, became head of the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering. She is the first woman and first person of color appointed to the post.
Ruben Juanes appointed director of MIT's Pierce Laboratory
Ruben Juanes, the ARCO Associate Professor in Energy Studies in civil and environmental engineering, now directs the Pierce Laboratory, which serves as a home for MIT’s research and education activities relating to the design, manufacture, and operation of infrastructure.
Undergraduate energy researchers bridge disciplines in summer projects
During summer 2015, MITEI sponsored 42 projects through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Twenty-two of the projects involved students working with faculty outside of their home majors, and seven projects connected students and faculty from different MIT schools.
Energy Fellows, 2015-2016
The Society of Energy Fellows at MIT welcomed 32 new members in fall 2015. The Energy Fellows network now totals more than 350 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and spans 20 MIT departments and divisions and all five MIT schools.
Introducing MIT's new Undergraduate Energy Commons
Scheduled to open in autumn 2016, the new commons will be located directly under MIT’s iconic dome in Room 10-063 and will provide a mixed configuration of educational and activity space for MIT’s energy students.
MITEI names co-chairs of Energy Education Task Force
Bradford Hager, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Earth Sciences and director of the Earth Resources Laboratory (left), and Rajeev Ram, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, are now co-chairs of MITEI’s Energy Education Task Force and the Energy Minor Oversight Committee.
Campus Energy Activities
New forecasting tool to aid MIT's energy planning
In summer 2015, MIT took another step forward in the effort to reduce its carbon footprint with the unveiling of an energy-forecasting tool that enables planners to assess current energy usage on campus and identify opportunities for improvement.
A day in the sun: MIT Solar Day looks ahead to decades of innovation
In September 2015, the MIT community gathered to learn about each other’s research and to explore the potential of future technologies. Topics addressed ranged from novel solar photovoltaic technologies to new developments in energy storage to the critical role of solar energy in the developing world.
MITEI members renew agreements
During October 2015, the MIT Energy Initiative signed multiyear renewal agreements with two of its members: Shell and Ferrovial.