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Amanda Morris receives Powe junior faculty award in support of her solar energy research

Oak Ridge Associated Universities has selected Amanda Morris, a Virginia Tech scientist investigating sustainable energy, for a 2012 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. The unrestricted grant is for faculty members in the first two years of their tenure track.

Morris, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, is searching for ways to harness energy from the sun in an easier, more efficient, less expensive method than currently available. The $5,000 Powe award, which is matched by Virginia Tech, is aimed at aiding Morris to foster new collaborations in her research field and advance her scientific investigations.

» Read more on the Virginia Tech website

University Honors students invited to Paris to compete as finalists in an international energy solutions case competition

Katie Gloe of Leesburg, Va., a junior majoring in chemical engineering, and Darius Emrani of Greensboro, N.C., a junior majoring in computer engineering, both in the College of Engineering, are one team out of 25 selected to enter the third and final round of the competition.

Gloe and Emrani will present their energy management idea, named EnerGymnasia, at the concluding event. "We were inspired by the number of students who use McComas Gym," said Gloe. "The idea is to capture energy from stationary equipment and walk-able surfaces, then input that energy back into a gym-wide electrical grid, making the gym more energy independent."

» Read more on the Virginia Tech website

Shashank Priya to host world energy harvesting conference at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Shashank Priya will host a two-day conference Aug.7 and 8 on campus, bringing together a group of international experts on energy harvesting and its applications.

Priya directs Virginia Tech College of Engineering's Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems, part of the National Science Foundation's Industry University Collaborative Research Center. He is organizer of the upcoming 7th Annual Energy Harvesting Workshop and 2nd Annual Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems Conference.

» Read more on the Virginia Tech website

Energy conservation initiative begins in six campus buildings

A comprehensive energy conservation initiative is under way in six campus buildings that is expected to save the university more than $8 million in utility costs over an 11-year period.

Cassell Coliseum, Jamerson Athletic Center, Hahn Hall-South, Dietrick Hall, and McBryde Hall, as well as the central steam plant, will receive multiple upgrades, including new lighting, HVAC control upgrades, water conservation measures, variable frequency drives, kitchen ventilation upgrades, cooling tower retrofits, building envelope sealing, and steam system repairs. The $5.3 million project is scheduled to be completed by early 2013.

» Read more on the Virginia Tech website

Energy Initiatives at Virginia Tech — A Progress Report

PDF version of a report by Satish V. Kulkarni, Director of Energy Initiatives for the Office of the Vice President for Research. Presented to Virginia Tech's Board of Visitors November 6, 2011. Includes discussion of the national and local scene; Virginia Tech's energy portfolio, recent activities and new initiatives; coal, nuclear, bioenergy, solar, building energy efficiency, and transportation; and partnerships with DOE national labs, universities, and industry.

Energy experts sought for seminars, speakers' bureau

logos of participating institutionsThe National Energy Technology Laboratory – Regional University Alliance (NETL-RUA) is looking for researchers willing to improve NETL-RUA's visibility in the region and nationally as energy experts and to further the alliance mission to educate energy leaders for the future.

Toward those goals, a seminar series and a speakers' bureau are being sponsored by the NETL-RUA education committee and communication and outreach committee.

For the seminar series, NETL-RUA speakers may be asked to participate in webcasts among the institutions as part of a member institution's regular academic seminar series or as a special event. Additionally, NETL-RUA may invite a renowned guest lecturer to speak on an energy-related topic drawing attention to this region and the alliance as a resource for energy information and knowledge.

For the speakers' bureau, a list of experts will be made available to organizations seeking technical speakers. These events could range from chamber of commerce or social service organization meetings to keynotes at STEM associations or government agency meetings. This list will also serve as a resource for media requests for technical experts.

Input is requested via a short, web-based survey, which should only take a few minutes.

NETL-RUA is an applied research collaboration that combines NETL's fossil energy and energy systems expertise with the broad capabilities of five nationally recognized, regional universities: Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University.

If you have questions, contact Julianne Klara, Regional University Alliance manager, 412-386-6089 or

Department of Energy Relaunches Energy.Gov

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the comprehensive reform of its website, The new website makes it easier for visitors to get localized information specific to their cities, counties, and states on tax credits, rebates, energy-saving tips, and grant opportunities.

The new platform utilizes the latest technologies in information visualization, bringing updated and interactive charts and maps to and making energy information more relevant to individuals. The Department is also now able to offer more open data sets for individuals to use and apply to other online applications.

The reform initiative is part of the Obama Administration's Campaign to Cut Waste, a dedicated effort across the federal government to streamline operations, end unnecessary spending and save taxpayers money. Over the next year, the Department will continue to improve by moving more program websites and features to the centralized platform.

Learn more about the new Energy Department website at

Director of energy initiatives named

Satish Kulkarni

Satish V. Kulkarni, a Virginia Tech alumnus who has led international and national collaborations related to energy, security, and the environment for more than three decades, has been named the director of energy initiatives for the university.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science jointly created the position in recognition of the societal need for advanced technological solutions to energy concerns. The director will promote energy-related research and initiatives across the university.

Kulkarni will work both at the new Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington and on the Blacksburg campus. He was until recently associate vice president for new initiatives and partnerships at Georgetown University and, before that, the counselor for science, technology, environment, and health affairs at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India with the Department of State.

He was recently inducted into the Academy of Engineering Excellence at Virginia Tech for "meritorious lifetime achievements and contributions to the engineering profession."

Learn more at

Energy experts discuss Japan's nuclear crisis and the possibility for a similar event in the U.S.

Can an event like that at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant happen in the United States?

Nuclear experts across the globe continue to assess the damage caused by Japan's nuclear crisis. The consensus is that its impact is matched only by the Russian Chernobyl disaster in 1986. While the world stays focused on Japan, Americans wonder if a nuclear catastrophe can happen here.

Dr. John Metzger, director of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and Howard Bruschi, retired Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer and current Executive Consultant at Westinghouse, discussed the current situation in Japan on the radio program "The American Entrepreneur" on Pittsburgh radio station AM 1360 WMNY.

Click the link to hear the discussion. The segment is entitled "Can the Japanese Nuclear Crisis Happen Here in the United States?" The interview starts at time 10:15 into the segment.

CPES welcomes Dr. Hui Wang

Her research focus will be on the integration of electric vehicle to utility grid in the CPES mini-consortium on Renewable Energy and Nanogrids (REN). Download the August 2010 proposal for the CPES REN mini-consortium.

Contribute to the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework

Created by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Geographic Information Science and Technology group for the U.S. Department of Energy, the new site will provide reports, technical data, and lists of experts.

Goals are to:

  • provide ready access to the status of bioenergy in the United States
  • distribute data needed for assessments
  • support emerging bioindustry by providing an integrative perspective
  • support policymaking by visualizing the outcomes of proposed policies
  • define where research or demonstration funds should be targeted
  • foster education and outreach

"The Bioenergy KDF harnesses Web. 2.0 and social networking technologies with customized online collaboration features for sharing and linking geographic and non-geographic digital content and resources," said ORNL's Rahul Ramachandran, the chief technology architect of the KDF.

Registered users will be able to contribute additional data sets that can be shared, growing the body of knowledge, better informing this growing industry and eliminating information silos.

Groups Doing Energy Research

(See full list of centers and groups.)

Grants awarded for community-based energy research

The Office of the Vice President for Research has awarded three Community Action Grants for Energy Research to promote collaboration between Virginia Tech researchers and the community.

Grant recipients are:

- Members of the Conservation Management Institute (CMI) for a feasibility study on converting the Catawba State Hospital oil-fired furnace to biomass. [ PDF of the proposal ]

- John Randolph for a project to help develop a final Blacksburg climate action plan and pilot residential energy assessment program. [ PDF of the proposal ]

- David Dillard and Cortney Martin for a project to demonstrate the feasibility of micro wind–based net metering for Southwest Virginia. [ PDF of the proposal ] Follow progress on this project.

Virginia Tech’s Energy Task Force

Virginia Tech is committed to research and education that provides solutions for the Nation’s energy needs.

In 2006, the Deans' Task Force on Energy Security and Sustainability was formed to assist with university-level efforts in energy research. In the coming year, we will continue these efforts by assisting faculty members with the preparation of large grant proposals in research areas related to energy security and sustainability. We will also seek partnerships that position Virginia Tech as a national and international leader in areas of expertise and will continue to coordinate campus-wide events, such as a speaker series and community engagement activities.

This website is intended to provide a resource to view the university community's significant expertise in the field of energy research. If you are a guest, please review the links to project areas and research centers to gain a better understanding of our expertise in these important areas.*

If you are a faculty member doing energy-related research, please review your information by entering your name or center in the "Search" field. We welcome information about new projects and any updates you would care to make.

Search the Energy Task Force website

Energy Resource Guide for Virginia, a new website for consumers from Virginia Cooperative Extension


Instructions for joining the energy listserv

Energy-themed issue of Virginia Tech Research magazine

For more detailed, technical descriptions of energy research projects, you may want to examine the abstracts of the research posters presented at the Deans' Forum on Energy Security and Sustainability in October 2006 and at the Energy Research Engagement Showcase in November 2006.

Note to the university community: If you see gaps in the resources or other information listed on this site, please send the additional information to Beth Tranter.


Energy Department Announces New Investments to Train Next Generation of Nuclear Energy Leaders, Advance University-Led Nuclear Innovation

Editorial: Clean Energy's Future (The Roanoke Times)

Wood chips take acid bath en route to biochemicals (CNET News)

Old King Coal: Virginia continues to be a top coal producer, but new rules and renewables challenge the industry's future

Researcher finds faster, cheaper way to cool electronic devices

Preventing Failure: New Magnetic Testing Technique Helps Ensure Reliability of Microelectronic Devices, PV Cells and MEMS Applications

Nanocrystal-coated fibers might reduce wasted energy

Algae biofuels: the wave of the future

The Problem is Energy; Here are Solutions

The $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge, a new business plan competition supported by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) encouraging students from universities in the...

Wind turbines that learn like humans

Vulture blind spots lead to collision with wind turbines

Students challenged to design cars of the future

Polymer Power Drives Tiny Reactions (ScienceNews magazine)

Touch Of Gold Improves Nanoparticle Fuel-cell Reactions

New Paper Examines Issues Raised by Fukushima Reactor Accident

Nanotrees Harvest the Sun's Energy to Turn Water into Hydrogen Fuel

Growing fuel crops vs. using petroleum: Which is more sustainable?

Is seaweed the future of biofuel?

Bugs from Space Offer New Source of Power

Plant Toughness: Key To Cracking Biofuels?

Plant Proteins Power Solar Panel

Nanotech Converts Body Heat Into Power

Aircraft of the Future Could Capture and Re-use Some of Their Own Power

Harnessing the sun at Virginia Tech

Researchers Find China's Pollution Related To E-cars May Be More Harmful Than Gasoline Cars'

A Practical Blueprint for a Low-Carbon Electric World?

U.S. commissions first new nuclear reactor in 30 years

Fuel from market waste

Bisolar breakthrough promises cheap, easy green electricity

Tech adds solar panels to garage

Nanogold Clusters As Catalysts In Fuel Cells

PolycreteUSA Joins Launch of Advanced Energy Economy of Virginia

DOE Reports Confirm United States' Immense Wave and Tidal Energy Resources

Pepco Energy Selected for $5.3 Million Energy Savings Performance Contract at Virginia Tech

Researchers Uncover Transparency Limits On Transparent Conducting Oxides

Scientists Look To Sunflowers For Solar Panel Design

U.S. Department of Energy releases national wave and tidal energy study

Engineering slimmer solar cells

McDonnell announces 2012 energy policy agenda

Solar Panels Compete With Cheap Natural Gas

Air battery to let electric cars outlast gas guzzlers

How your fireplace works

University of Minnesota engineering researchers discover new source for generating 'green' electricity

A turn in the road? General Assembly to weigh pros, cons of uranium mining (Virginia Business magazine)

'Artificial leaf' moves closer to reality

Algae ... Soylent Green ... And The Future Of Biofuel

Uranium mining report finds risks, benefits for Virginia

Sony develops a battery powered by paper

Biofuels face a reality check

How 3-D voltaics could revolutionize solar power

Solar power much cheaper to produce than most analysts realize, study finds

Solar concentrator increases collection with less loss

Orbital solar power plants touted for energy needs ( exclusive)

Energy Expo Highlights Wind Power and Bee Farming Challenges (

New Materials Turn Heat Into Electricity (National Science Foundation (NSF) Discoveries)

Which way does the wind blow? Let's find out!

Fusion power's road not taken (Science magazine)

Energy conservation effort kicks off in Virginia Tech residence halls

First-of-a-kind tension wood study broadens biofuels research

Taking a cue from Mother Nature, researchers at the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center have undertaken a first-of-its-kind study of a naturally occurring phenomenon in trees to spur the development of more efficient bioenergy crops.

IPC with team CPES-VT/RPI wins DOE ARPA-E Solar ADEPT award

Ideal Power Converters (IPC), leading a team from Virginia Tech and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to create a dual bi-directional silicon IGBT module. This is part of the DOE ARPA-E Solar ADEPT (Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology) Program.

Researchers discover revolutionary process for biofuel

Shining brightly

Vast amounts of solar energy radiate to the Earth constantly, but tapping that energy cost-effectively remains a challenge.

Vehicle-to-grid technology: Electric cars become power-grid batteries (Scientific American)

Vehicle-to-grid technology allows networks of electric vehicles to function like a giant battery. It's now one step closer to U.S. commercialization. Richard Hirsh, a professor of history, science and technology studies, comments on the plan.

Green Machine: Recycled Cans To Make Cheap Fuel Cells (NewScientist)

'Thinking Machines' Will Guide Future Power Grids, Expert Says (Science Blog)

Geothermal Power Plants Could Help Produce Lithium For Electric Cars

Storage, Biofuel Lead $156 Million in Energy Research Grants (National Geographic)

'Artificial Leaf' Makes Fuel From Sunlight (Science 360)

Building Better Catalysts (University of Utah)

'Darker Than Black' Metamaterial Promises Better Solar Cells (Technology Review)

Copper Film Could Lower Touch Screen, LED and Solar Cell Costs

Microwave ovens a key to energy production from wasted heat

ORNL discovers amazing electrical properties in polymers

Fresh water + salt water + bacteria = renewable energy (Ars Technica)

Wind power overview (National Geographic)

Dominion receives federal grant to evaluate ways to reduce cost of offshore wind generation

The Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute along with other teams partner with Dominion under a two-year, $500,000 grant for energy modeling and analysis.

Offshore Wind Turbines Keep Growing in Size (Scientific American)

CONSOL Energy Teams Up with Four Universities to Help the Dollar Energy Fund

Airborne Wind Energy

Electrified Roads Could Power Cars From The Ground Up

Hog Waste Producing Electricity, Carbon Offsets

Liquid Battery Could Store Intermittent Wind Or Solar Energy

ORNL new material possible boon for lithium ion batteries

World's Smallest Electric Motor Made From A Single Molecule

Population And Purpose: Where We Use Electricity

Bacteria Use Electric Wires To Shock Uranium Out Of Groundwater

Testing the water for bioenergy crops

Panda poop key to biofuel production?

Asian Nations Set to Dominate the Clean Energy Race by Out-Investing the United States

Developing better and cheaper clean energy technology will be central to addressing climate change, securing U.S. energy independence and to the creation of new clean energy jobs. Increasingly, nations are seeking to gain competitive advantage in this rapidly growing, high-technology sector and the stakes for the U.S. are significant: will the U.S. largely be an importer of these clean technologies, and lose the jobs related to them, or can the U.S. emerge as a global leader, driving exports and high-wage jobs?

A new report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Breakthrough Institute, Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant, is the first to thoroughly benchmark the clean energy competitiveness in four nations: China, Japan, South Korea and the United States. The report analyzes clean energy investments and policy support for research, manufacturing, and domestic demand, with a particular focus on six key technologies: wind, solar, nuclear, carbon capture and storage, hybrid and electric vehicles and advanced batteries, and high speed rail.

- Read the executive summary.

- Read the full report.

- Click here for news release and event audio/video.