The University of Delaware has launched the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, which will conduct research and policy analysis aimed at understanding how to eliminate emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by humans through transportation and electricity generation.
The center, which is a collaboration of several UD colleges and is administered by the UD College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES), was formally created on Sept. 19, 2008. That day, the university also launched the new University of Delaware Energy Institute, which will create and integrate new solutions to challenges in energy sufficiency and sustainability.
That purpose is complemented by the work of Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, said Willett Kempton, the center’s director and an associate professor of marine policy. The center’s goal is to conduct scientific research on power production from utility-scale (versus household-scale) geophysical sources such as wind and ocean currents; evaluate technical methods to convert, transmit, and store that power; and to conduct policy analysis on how to integrate those sources into today’s policy and planning processes.
Motivating the center’s work, Kempton said, is concern about human-produced carbon dioxide and its environmental impacts. The center’s goal to create “carbon free” instead of “carbon reduction” technologies is because atmospheric scientists suggest that to avoid the worst predicted climate change outcomes, the world will need an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
“To achieve this goal in a developing world with growing demand, humanity requires new resources and technologies that are carbon-free,” Kempton said. “Anthropogenic carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas that has the largest effect on Earth’s climate. The center’s focus is on electricity and transportation because they account for the largest fractions of human carbon dioxide production.”
Joining Kempton as members are five faculty representing three UD colleges. The group members said they are excited about the opportunity to work across colleges and disciplines in the new center.
Also from CMES are Associate Professor of Marine Policy Jeremy Firestone and Assistant Professor of Physical Ocean Science and Engineering Dana Veron. George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering Suresh Advani and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ajay Prasad represent the College of Engineering. Associate Professor of Business Administration Meryl Gardner represents the Lerner College of Business and Economics.
Advani explained that members of the center will build on the momentum of ongoing projects that have great potential.
“I am excited about the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) project we have initiated in which electric cars can be used as storage for carbon free power generated from intermittent sources such as wind and draw on them when there is a power surge,” Advani said. “If this concept can be successfully demonstrated and implemented on a small scale, it will make the electric cars commercially viable and move us towards overall goal of energy sustainability.”
Gardner, whose market research on the V2G project has included surveying potential drivers, added that the center’s research on electric vehicles requires collaboration among economics, policy, and engineering.
“These areas are moving forward at the same time as the marketing research," she said. “It is exciting to have the products and policies being developed in conjunction with trying to understand market response to new services and benefits that consumers have not seen before.”
The group’s other major accomplishments related to carbon-free power include the development of a mathematical characterization of the mid-Atlantic offshore wind resource and Gulf Stream current resource.
To learn more about the center, visit www.carbonfree.udel.edu. For more about CMES, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.