MIT Energy Initiative awards eight seed fund grants for early-stage MIT energy research

Annual MITEI awards support research on battery storage, smart grids, and carbon emissions reduction.

Electric power grids and energy infrastructure are becoming increasingly threatened as extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, occur with more frequency and strength. One of the eight novel energy research projects to recently win an MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund award will address these challenges by developing an approach for building hurricane-resilient smart grids.

Electric power grids and energy infrastructure are becoming increasingly threatened as extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, occur with more frequency and strength. One of the eight novel energy research projects to recently win an MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund award will address these challenges by developing an approach for building hurricane-resilient smart grids.

Eight individuals and teams from MIT were recently awarded $150,000 grants through the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) Seed Fund Program to support promising novel energy research.

The highly competitive annual program received a total of 82 proposals from 88 researchers representing 17 departments, labs, and centers at MIT. The applications, which came from a range of disciplines, all aim to help advance a low-carbon energy system and address key climate challenges.

“The breadth of creative, interdisciplinary research proposals that we received truly reflects the Institute’s increasing focus on curbing the effects of climate change,” says MITEI Director Robert C. Armstrong, the Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering. He also noted that a large number of proposals focused on energy storage, signifying the central role that these technologies will play in deep decarbonization.

The winning projects will address topics ranging from hurricane-resilient smart grids and zero-emission neighborhoods to new, low-cost batteries for grid-level energy storage.

Building hurricane-resilient smart grids

In 2017, Hurricane Maria left more than 1 million Puerto Ricans without power – many of whom did not have their electricity restored until months later. As stronger hurricanes become increasingly frequent, extreme weather is proving to be a growing critical threat to electric power grids and energy infrastructure.

First-time seed fund awardees Kerry Emanuel and Saurabh Amin aim to develop a foundational design approach for building hurricane-resilient smart grids. They will combine their expertise in hurricane physics and power system control to develop new strategies that can greatly increase the resilience of power grids and allow for quicker restoration of service.

“The goal is to reduce overall grid damage and avoid prolonged outages after storms by integrating strategic resource allocation and microgrid control strategies,” says Emanuel, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

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