Laboratory for Energy and the Environment

Established in 2001 in a merger of the MIT Center for Environmental Initiatives (CEI) and the Energy Laboratory, the Laboratory for Energy and Environment (LFEE) supports, coordinates, and conducts research and education on environmental and sustainability issues that influence development and welfare worldwide. The LFEE brings together collaborating faculty and staff in 14 departments to address the complex, long-term, multifaceted problems of sustainable development. LFEE multidisciplinary teams work not only on technological solutions but also on the economic, political, and social aspects associated with their realization. As a neutral broker, LFEE aims to foster constructive relationships between industry, governments, academia, and the public to seek solutions to long-range environment and energy issues. LFEE works to build better understanding of the many issues between and among developed and developing nations that arise in the context of meeting global environmental challenges.  A central theme running through all of LFEE's initiatives is the role of science and technology in shaping better environmental policy at all levels in both the public and private sectors. The education program of LFEE is committed to educating the next generation of environmental and sustainability leaders worldwide via joint projects locally and nationally, and through participation in international education programs with our partners around the world.

Professor David H. Marks of Engineering Systems and Civil and Environmental Engineering is director of LFEE.  He is supported by professor of chemistry Jeffrey Steinfeld, director of the LFEE Education Program; Dr. Joanne Kauffman, principal research scientist and lecturer in political science, deputy director; Stephen Connors, coordinator of multidisciplinary research; and administrative officer John O'Brien. The executive committee of the MIT Council on the Environment serves as the steering committee for LFEE.


The founding of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment is a milestone in MIT's efforts to facilitate the coordination of multidisciplinary research focused on environment and sustainability issues. It is the culmination of a ten-year effort to bring together researchers across MIT to cooperate on problem solving and innovative management in support of a sustainable future. LFEE supports experts in a variety of disciplines studying the complex interrelationships between energy and the environment as well as other global environmental challenges to sustainable development. The merger in 2001 means that LFEE scholars can look not just at single technologies in depth but also across technologies and can study how improving and using technologies can lead to better management and policy formation. Highlights from AY2002 reflect this constructive development.

In AY2002, LFEE attracted new faculty and additional resources to support multidisciplinary research programs, expanded its educational initiatives both locally and internationally, identified major challenges in meeting growing global transportation demands, significantly advanced ongoing work of the Energy Lab on carbon sequestration and built a consortium of sponsors to support this work, and strengthened outreach and education activities at local, national, and international levels. 

The LFEE research volume for FY2002 was about $7.7 million, including sponsored research and fund accounts. LFEE research programs engage over 50 MIT faculty members and over 100 students annually.

With respect to building synergy across the Institute, the LFEE provides co-leadership for the Council on the Environment (together with MIT's chancellor, Professor Phillip L. Clay) and continues its weekly seminar series on global environment and sustainability issues. The seminar series includes presentations of work in progress on environmental challenges as well as discussions of timely issues by invited guests.

Internationally, LFEE continues coordination of MIT's participation in the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS). MIT's Alliance coordinators, David H. Marks and Joanne Kauffman, were instrumental in organizing the 2002 annual meeting of the AGS, which was held for the first time in a developing country, Costa Rica. The meeting attracted over 400 scholars and representatives from industry, government, and NGOs around the world. The proceedings of the meeting will serve as a resource for LFEE's own affiliates as well as other academics who are concerned with the application of scholarly research to sustainable development. In 2001-2002, AGS launched a new book series Science and Technology: Tools for Sustainable Development, published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, the Netherlands.  The first two books in the series published in this academic year focus on sustainable development of the world's megacities: Air Quality in the Mexico Megacity, Luisa T. Molina and Mario J. Molina, editors; and Future Cities: Dynamics and Sustainability, Fred Moavenzadeh, Keisuke Hanaki, and Peter Baccini, editors. Through LFEE's coordinating role, MIT will host the annual technical meeting of the AGS in November 2002. This meeting will launch a new category of research partnerships for sustainable development designed to involve more stakeholders and sponsors in AGS multidisciplinary, integrated research.

In addition to the consolidation of existing programs and research projects in the former Energy Lab and CEI, LFEE also launched a new program in FY2002 focused on bridging the gap between engineering and the social and management sciences to improve the quality of environmental regulation and policy. The Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (P-STEP) will give master's and doctoral students an opportunity to perform thesis work involving multifaceted analyses of specific regulatory issues and standards that exist or are being considered. Their research will be jointly supervised by engineering and social sciences faculty.

The graduate elective on sustainable energy (22.811J/10.391J/ESD66/11/371J/1.818J/3.564J) will be offered for the sixth time in the spring 2003 term. The course is taught collaboratively by faculty affiliated with LFEE and the Nuclear Engineering and Chemical Engineering departments, with the participation of other experts from within and external to MIT.  Collaborators in the development of the course are finalizing a new textbook on sustainable energy, which should be available for the spring semester.

The Clean Diesel Fuel Research Initiative Program received renewed funding for a long-term research program to identify and assess the potential for significantly cleaner diesel fuels. The program is a collaboration between LFEE affiliates in the Sloan Automotive Laboratory and the Chemical Engineering Department under the University of Alaska-MIT Partnership.

The Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR) continued its research focus on emissions trading and electric utility restructuring during the 2001–2002 academic year. A new collaborative research program was begun with Cambridge University concerning the relations between electric utility productivity, restructuring of electric utility regulation, and the formation of environmental regulation. Three workshops were held during the year, two in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one in Oviedo, Spain. CEEPR is directed by Professor Paul Joskow; Dr. A. Denny Ellerman is executive director.

The Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, codirected by Professors Henry Jacoby and Ronald Prinn, continues to gain recognition as a leading center of research in its field. This recognition comes not only in the form of new associates and the continuing flow of financial support, but also in the form of more invitations to participate in expert reviews and assessments and to speak or otherwise participate in various meetings. In the past year, research and peer-review lags have been overcome and Joint Program research is appearing in a number of different journals, such as Atmospheric Environment, Climate Dynamics, The Energy Journal, Environmental Science and Policy, International Affairs, Nature, Revue de l'Energie, andScience.

The Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies Program, led by LFEE's Howard Herzog, continued its leadership work in assessing and researching technologies for carbon dioxide mitigation through carbon capture and sequestration. Funding for this work comes from a variety of sources, including DOE, EPRI, and the Carbon Sequestration Initiative (a nine-member industrial consortium).

The Building Technology Program, led by Professor Leon Glicksman, initiated an implementation phase of its work on cleaner building technologies in China with a demonstration project and related education and training workshops in China.

The Analysis Group for Regional Electricity Alternatives, led by the LFEE's Stephen Connors continues to apply it multi-attribute tradeoff-analysis approach to the assessment of environmentally responsible energy technology portfolios. AGREA currently supports research with several AGS and MIT/AGS projects, including the Mexico City Integrated Assessment, the China Energy Technology Program, new projects in Northern Europe and Romania, and investigations of renewable energy in the United States and various developing countries

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Component Programs

In 2001–2002 LFEE carried out its mission by combining and building on the intellectual resources of its predecessors, CEI and the Energy Lab.

Component programs in 2001–2002 were: the Alliance for Global Sustainability (international focus); the MIT/AGS Consortium on Environmental Challenges (focus on science and technology in environmental decision making); the Carbon Sequestration Initiative; the Center for Airborne Organics; and the LFEE Education Program. Research programs are also supported in the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems; the Sloan Automotive Laboratory; the Building Technology Program; the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research; the Materials Systems Laboratory; and the MIT Center for International Studies.

Alliance for Global Sustainability

AGS-supported research brings together scholars from the three founding partner universities (MIT, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and the University of Tokyo), the fourth partner, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and partners from industry, NGOs, government, and other leading academic institutions to address complex environmental problems that transcend geographical and disciplinary boundaries. In AY2002 AGS held its first meeting outside the boundaries of its member institutions as participants convened in a developing country, Costa Rica. The Instituto Centro Americano de Administracion de Empresas (INCAE) was the host for the meeting, which attracted over 400 scholars from the AGS members, INCAE, and other Latin American universities, as well as invited guests from industry, government, and civil society. Preceding the annual meeting, the AGS Governing Board approved funding for 13 new projects over the next two years. This new funding brings the number of international multidisciplinary research projects supported by the AGS to over 60.

AGS projects fall within three major focus areas: water, energy, and mobility. In addition, some of the projects address crosscutting issues such as urban systems, cleaner technologies, policies and institutions, and communications and outreach for sustainable development. AGS project leaders have raised more than $20 million to supplement these projects and related sustainability research at the partner universities. More than 200 graduate students in the member schools have participated in AGS research initiatives that are characterized by strong integration of multidisciplinary and comparative geographical perspectives on complex sustainability issues. Through this program many students have participated in academic exchanges with member institutions and their partners in developed and developing countries and completed numerous doctoral theses in each of the focus areas.

In addition to its research programs the AGS supports education and outreach initiatives to raise awareness of the important role of science and technology in meeting the sustainability challenge to future development and to equip the next generation of leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to address such challenges throughout their careers. Among these is the AGS-supported Youth Environmental Summit (YES) in Braunwald, Switzerland. In 2001-2002, the program brought 40 graduate students from over 30 countries to two two-week intensive study programs on sustainability with a focus on implementation of Agenda 21.  

Professor David Marks and Dr. Joanne Kauffman are the MIT coordinators for the AGS. Further information is available at the AGS web site at

MIT/AGS Consortium on Environmental Challenges

In 2001–2002, the Consortium on Environmental Challenges created stronger ties with the international AGS program with a regional focus on environment and sustainability issues.  This integration provides greater international reach and synergy in the programs initiated at MIT, as well as enhanced visibility through the AGS International education and outreach programs.  The MIT/AGS focuses on the role of scientific and technological knowledge in environmental decision making and seeks to provide recommendations for improving the scientific foundation for policies and decisions that affect the global environment.  The MIT management team for the program includes Professors David Marks, Mario Molina, and Kenneth Oye, and Dr. Joanne Kauffman. The goals of the program are to:

MIT/AGS-affiliated scholars from across the Institute are assessing the state of knowledge needed to effectively meet global environmental challenges by focusing on specific issue areas.

In 2001–2002, linkages focused on energy choices for the future including sustainable building technologies, safety of nuclear energy systems, and carbon management and sequestration; the automobile and sustainability with an emphasis on options for future road transportation; water for a sustainable future; air quality in the world's burgeoning megacities (case study on Mexico City); and ways to improve decision making under conditions of uncertainty.

Through this initiative, researchers seek to understand how to increase the role scientific evidence and technological knowledge play or can play in meeting the challenges posed by environmental risks to economic development and social welfare.

The Mexico City Integrated Assessment Project is an important example of how the best science and technology can be applied to help solve contemporary environmental problems. The program, which is supported by the Mexican government as well as through the MIT/AGS consortium and other sources, is working with public officials and stakeholders on ways to improve air quality in Mexico City and contribute to the solution of related regional and global air quality problems. The project includes identification of sources and effects of air pollution in Mexico City through high quality science carried out at MIT and with its partners in Mexico and elsewhere. The project is led by Professor Mario Molina and Dr. Luisa Molina. More information can be found at the project's web site at

Major accomplishments of the MIT/AGS consortium in 2001–2002 include completion of a major study on mobility in the 21st century in conjunction with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development; the organization of major workshops and executive education training in Mexico City; and completion of background studies on incentives to industry to recognize potential competitive advantage in environmental regulation. A number of completed theses supervised by the Center for International Studies under the auspices of the MIT/AGS program address new approaches to environmental decision making and policy formation. The groundwork carried out in the consortium and with CIS researchers underlies planning for the new LFEE program on Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy.

The MIT Consortium on Environmental Challenges was created in October 1997, when MIT and Ford Motor Company announced a collaboration focusing on education and research. As a component of this partnership,

Ford pledged $5 million over five years to initiate and support the consortium.  Commitment to continued support for the second five year phase was announced in 2002. The advisory committee for the program in 2001-2002 included sponsors at ExxonMobil, 3M, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Shell.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies Program

The field of carbon capture and sequestration is attracting much interest due to increasing concerns about global climate change. Our continuing work on carbon sequestration technologies focuses on three areas: assessment, education/outreach, and basic research. Howard Herzog leads this effort. Some of our key research thrusts are:

Center for Airborne Organics

Professor Jack B. Howard directs the EPA Center on Airborne Organics. A major goal of this center is to better understand pollution of ambient airsheds by energy and other industrial sources and to use that understanding to prescribe new means of detecting and tracing organic pollutants and new methodologies for preventing pollutant emissions altogether. Specific projects focus on sources, atmospheric transport and transformation, monitoring, and engineering controls for organic pollutant vapors and aerosols. To provide a strong group of experts to address these issues, the center operates as a consortium of MIT, the California Institute of Technology, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Professors John H. Seinfeld (Caltech) and Robert Pfeffer (NJIT) are associate directors. MIT scientists participating in center research projects have included Professors Paul I. Barton, Wai Cheng, William H. Green, John B. Heywood, Jack B. Howard, Mario Molina, and John B. Vander Sande, and Dr. Arthur LaFleur. For several years, the center hosted an annual summer symposium on high-visibility technology and policy topics in ambient air pollution. In July 2001 the focus of this meeting was Exporting and Importing Air Pollution: Regional and Global Transport. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Robert Slott, consultant to the LFEE. Reports of the center and of Summer Symposia are available on the center website. The ten-year lifetime of the center will be completed September 30, 2002, and a comprehensive Final Technical Report summarizing the research achievements and public policy impacts of the center will be issued.

Energy Choices

A generous gift of $1,350,000 over two years from the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation allowed MIT to launch broad research initiatives in 1997 focusing on innovative energy solutions.  In 2000, the foundation extended its support by $1 million over a two year period. These funds are used in conjunction with funds raised from corporate and other sponsors to pursue important research in strategic areas of opportunity.

Electric Sector Research Activities

LFEE research in the area of strategic planning for energy infrastructures and environmental performance is centered on the Analysis Group for Regional Electricity Alternatives (AGREA), led by Stephen Connors. The scenario-based multi-attribute tradeoff-analysis approach, developed in the 1980s by Energy Lab researchers, is the primary tool used by AGREA. Current group projects include studies of electricity alternatives in China, Northern Europe, and Romania and an integrated assessment of the air pollution reduction alternatives for the Mexico City Metropolitan Area. In addition to the multi-attribute tradeoff-analysis approach, all three case studies include interaction with local decision makers to ensure that the research is relevant, attuned to local conditions, and has a better chance of influencing the decisions of local officials.

These elements also characterize the Mexico City investigation. This project, sponsored by the Consortium on Environmental Challenges, includes numerous Mexican institutions and researchers, as well as scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health. On the MIT side, researchers are drawn from the Departments of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Urban Studies and Planning, the Center for Transportation Studies, and the Center for International Studies, and research units from the former Energy Lab. AGREA plays a central role in this effort due to its scenario planning approach and its participants' extensive experience in interacting with local stakeholders.

Other AGREA research activities include a project for the US Environmental Protection Agency to assess the avoided emissions potential of solar photovoltaics (PVs) across the United States. This research entails comparing where and when kWhs from PVs generate electricity to units based on fossil fuel and other sources operating on the grid in order to assess their long-term contributions to criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas reductions. The databases for historical avoided emissions will provide a resource for investigators comparing the emissions-reduction potential of other renewable energy sources and energy conservation.

Research in competitive power systems continued in AY2002. Led by Dr. Marija Ilic, research in this area included the ABB-sponsored project "Distributed Power Industry of the Future." Research thrusts, which also included intellectual participation from faculty in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), included the development and application of congestion management structures and computational capabilities for regional grid operators, price forecasting techniques for generators and power marketers, and revised criteria for measuring the adequacy and reliability of power supplies. The distributed power industry project focuses on the technical, economic, and regulatory challenges that distributed resources pose to distribution system stability. The project is also addressing alternative business models and regulatory structures, which may enable or constrain the deployment and use of consumer based electricity generation, storage, demand control, and power quality enhancement. Also participating in the distributed power project are Professors Paul Kleindorfer from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, and Ingo Vogelsang from Boston University.

Political Economy and Technology Policy Group

The Political Economy and Technology Policy Group, led by Professor Kenneth Oye, is a joint program of the LFEE and the Center for International Studies.  Its purpose is to identify means to improve the quality of public and private responses to critical environmental problems by combining expertise on problems of political economy with fundamental understanding of scientific and technical issues.  The Political Economy and Technology Policy Group's research focuses on three key areas for improving environmental decision making. First, the use of scientific information in public policy making. The intent is to identify methods for more robust and integrated assessments of policy options and for credible risk assessments of risks in areas of environmental policy controversy. Second, the capacity of political institutions to adapt to new information. Third, assessment of the private effects of public environmental policies, with specific attention to the competitive position of firms, sectors, and nations.  The Political Economy and Technology Policy Group currently is launching a study of links among regulation, the utilization of technologies, and industrial structure.

In 2001–2002 the Political Economy and Technology Policy Group was engaged in a broad range of activities, some of which were jointly funded by AGS and other institutions. This research group has:

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Affiliated Research

Energy Issues in China

In the past year, LFEE continued to invest in projects that support China's efforts to improve energy efficiency in buildings, and in projects to improve the safety and reliability of the expanding nuclear industry in China and elsewhere. The focus of the sustainable buildings project is on residential buildings in large Chinese cities beginning with Beijing and Shanghai. The project has emphasized the use of materials and building styles appropriate and available in the local area. In 2001-2002, the research entered an implementation and outreach phase with workshops and demonstrations projects organized for stakeholders in China. Two MIT research groups, the Building Technology Program, and the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems, include research on conditions in China among their initiatives.

Building Technology Program

Faculty and students in building technology are conducting a major program of sustainable building design and technology for developing countries. Participants are actively cooperating with colleagues at Tsinghua University and Tongji University and Chinese developers and designers. The focus is on residential buildings in large Chinese cities. Projects include the design of four high-rise residential structures in Beijing, two mid-rise multi-story housing units in Shanghai's Taidong residential quarter, and a low-rise residential community in Shenzhen City. The goal of these projects is the development of demonstration buildings that use appropriate technologies and designs as teaching tools and examples for future projects in Chinese cities. New technologies such as night cooling, solar-driven dehumidification, and ground-coupled heat pumps are being evaluated, as is the incorporation of traditional technologies such as shading and natural ventilation. A book on sustainable energy for Chinese buildings detailing the findings of these studies is being prepared; it will be published as part of the AGS series.

MIT, ETHZ, and Chalmers are cooperating with Tsinghua University and the Ministry of Construction in China to develop new sustainable guidelines for Chinese housing. The proposed guidelines will be included in a web-based tool for designers and developers. Follow-up studies of housing projects in several Chinese cities will also be undertaken.

The building technology group also is cooperating with colleagues at the University of Tokyo in a study dealing with reduction of pollution from megacities such as Tokyo or Shanghai. This technical work is being carried out in cooperation with the University of Tokyo and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. In this project, technologies such as ground source heat pumps and advanced facades are being evaluated. Ground source heat pumps use low grade geothermal energy to improve efficiency for both heating and cooling of buildings. The ground source air conditioner, which stores or extracts heat underground, will significantly reduce urban heat island effects in the summer. We have undertaken a comprehensive study of advanced building facades that have air circulation between multiple glazing as well as blinds to control solar input and daylighting. These facade systems, when properly used, will reduce energy for air conditioning as well as artificial lighting. They will also improve interior comfort and ventilation. The results have been included in a web-based design tool that can be used by designers in the conceptual design stages.

The building technology group has begun a joint study with Cambridge University under the Cambridge-MIT Institute. This research focuses on sustainable commercial buildings in the UK and US. It involves design and technology studies for large new projects; detailed monitoring of existing buildings; and fundamental and applied studies of new energy technologies such as natural ventilation to replace or reduce energy requirements for air conditioning.

Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems

Prior to the merger of the Energy Laboratory and the Center for Environmental Initiatives, the Energy Lab and the Nuclear Engineering Department jointly developed a new Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES). The center aims to create research concepts for nuclear energy systems that promise more favorable economics, safety, proliferation resistance, and environmental impact. The center's programs involve development and application of methods for the design, operation, and regulation of current and advanced nuclear reactors and fuel cycles. This requires advances in knowledge about traditional scientific and technical disciplines, modern methods of systems reliability, probabilistic safety analysis and decision analysis, together with human interactions and management science. Professor Mujid S. Kazimi is the director of CANES.

Center programs involve four major thrusts: developing advanced reactor plant technology options; investigating alternative nuclear fuel cycles from the economic and environmental points of view; providing new methods to enhance operations of nuclear power plants in a risk-informed regulatory framework; and assessing the role of nuclear energy in a sustainable world.

The center collaborates with DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL,) which has continued to support advanced reactor research projects at MIT. This was the fifth year in which INEEL had given MIT a total of nearly $1 million tied to about $1 million funding at INEEL for the development of advanced reactors. Four projects were funded under this initiative: the Modular Gas Cooled Reactor under the direction of Professor Andrew Kadak; the Lead-Bismuth Cooled Actinide Fueled Reactor (AFR) under the direction of Professor Todreas; Advanced Fuels for Light Water Reactors under the direction of Professor Kazimi; and the Fast Gas Cooled Gas Turbine Reactor under the direction of Professor Driscoll.

The center established a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the US Department of Energy under which the two will cooperate on ways to clean up fuel scraps from fuel facilities owned by Global Fuels, Inc. The CRADA also involves Brookhaven National Laboratory and a Russian fuel processing factory in Ulba, Kazakhastan.

A collaboration that started in 1998 between MIT and Tsinghua University that aims to provide China's growing nuclear energy sector with a firmer foundation to develop nuclear safety standards and techniques for enhanced safety features of operating plants has continued. Professor Golay and his student Yi Sui visited operating nuclear plants in China and used the information they gathered in their research, which aims at defining performance indicators for the power plants. Professors Kadak and Kazimi visited the recently completed gas-cooled pebble bed research reactor and exchanged information about the codes used at MIT and Tsinghua University to simulate the behavior of the reactor.

Sloan Automotive Laboratory

Many of the laboratory's projects involve quantitative and cross-disciplinary study of complex energy and environmental systems. The laboratory is directed by Professor John Heywood with participation from Professor Wai Cheng, Professor Doug Hart, Professor James Keck, Dr. David Schmidt, Dr. Tian Tian, Dr.Victor Wong and Professor William Green of the Chemical Engineering Department. It continues to pursue promising research to improve engine performance, efficiency, and fuel utilization in internal combustion engines and reduce adverse emissions. Focusing on new engine and fuel technologies, the Engine and Fuels Research Consortium continues to explore critical fuel/air mixture preparation and emission formation mechanisms in developing engine concepts, with potential application to both gasoline and diesel engines. Complementing the engine and fuels studies, the Consortium on Lubrication in Internal Combustion Engines involves major engine component and lubricant manufacturers, in addressing issues in oil consumption and engine friction reduction. Some members in these consortia also sponsor separate research projects on related topics of specific application to the individual sponsors. For example, Professors Wai Cheng and John Heywood work with Ford Motor Company on three projects related to engine transients: fuel/air mixture preparation behavior during start up, emission benefits of engine operation in hybrid electric vehicles, and actual in-use vehicle emissions in stop and go traffic.

Sloan Laboratory researchers are also involved in assessing new vehicle and propulsion system technologies for future road transportation use. The Sloan Laboratory also engages actively in basic combustion research on advanced engine systems with US DOE support, and in engine emission research with support from the EPA Research Center on Airborne Organics. The initial phase of the Clean Diesel Fuel Research Initiative Program, originally a collaboration between the Energy Laboratory and the Chemical Engineering Department under the University of Alaska-MIT Partnership, is receiving substantial industry support. The initial goal is to identify and assess the potential for significantly cleaner diesel fuels. Plans for a longer term research program have been developed and are expected to be funded shortly. The proposed research will complement extensive fuel-testing programs being conducted elsewhere and will address engine technology/fuels interaction, fuel-processing technology, and special environmental and economic factors.

In a joint project with the Plasma Science and Fusion Center, Professor John Heywood and Sloan Automotive Laboratory graduate students are exploring the opportunities for lean operating spark ignition engines, in which a plasmatron device—an electrical discharge-initiated fuel reformer—supplies hydrogen to enable the lean burn. A license to develop this technology has been taken out by ArvinMeritor, and a substantial cooperative research and development program with DOE; ArvinMeritor funding is in progress.  

Professor Heywood and Dr. Malcolm Weiss completed an assessment of new vehicle and fuel technologies for future road transportation, considering the increasing concerns about limiting both greenhouse gas emissions and criteria pollutants such as particulates and nitrogen oxides. The work started with a critical review of existing assessments (many of which are partial system views with a variety of different assumptions), and then conducted a life cycle assessment of potential fuel/vehicle systems for the 2020 time frame. Finally, the implications of transitions to these future transportation technologies to each of the major stakeholders in the transportation industry, including customers and the government, were evaluated. The focus is to identify barriers and opportunities for accelerating the adoption of such new technologies where they offer advantages relative to the evolving fleets of cars and trucks. A report was and published in 2001, following an interactive workshop that focused on the report and identified options for pathways for the future.  This work is being extended in 2002 to consider the effects of more optimistic assumptions about future performance of fuel cells. A program on issues in freight transportation is also being planned.

Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research

The Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR) is an activity jointly sponsored at MIT by LFEE, the Department of Economics, and the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management. CEEPR funds policy-related research in energy and environmental economics. The center receives financial support from corporate sponsors, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Cambridge-MIT Institute.

CEEPR research is focused on evaluating the functioning and performance of markets created for the provision of environmental goods and for providing electricity and associated services. Most of the environmental research is concerned with the relationship between SO2 allowance trading, emission reductions, and compliance under the US Acid Rain Program. CEEPR's research in electricity examines the functioning and performance of new markets being created in many countries as the electric utility sector is restructured. Particular emphasis is placed on how restructuring decisions with respect to asset ownership, transmission access, and customer choice shape these markets and the provision of electricity to consumers.

Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

This program, co-directed by Professors Jacoby of the Sloan School and Prinn of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, draws on MIT's traditional strengths in science and economics to conduct the serious interdisciplinary work needed to provide a basis for global climate policy. The now eleven-year-old Joint Program is one of the world's leading centers for the integrated assessment of climate change. An MIT Integrated Global Systems Model, developed by program researchers, provides a facility for research on the climate issue and assessment of policy proposals. An interdisciplinary team of faculty, professional staff, and graduate students carries out the work, and it produces a continuing flow of reports, articles, student theses, and professional and public presentations on the science and policy of global warming. Four US government agencies, 20 corporate sponsors in North America, Europe, and Japan, and one foundation support the work.

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Education and Curriculum Initiatives

With the establishment of LFEE, environmental education initiatives at MIT found a new organizational home. To reflect LFEE's commitment to environmental education, the lab established the LFEE Education Program, which pursues the agenda previously undertaken by the Program on Environmental Education and Research (PEER). Professor Jeffrey Steinfeld, director of PEER, continues as director of the LFEE Education Program, and Dr. Amanda Graham was hired to the new position of LFEE education program manager in 2001.

The mission of the LFEE Education Program is to enhance environmental literacy and strengthen the environmental dimension of educational experiences, particularly among the leaders of tomorrow's science and technology communities. The program is dedicated to increasing awareness of the complexity of environmental and sustainability challenges, and to increasing the multidisciplinary capacity of learners to respond effectively to these challenges. A special challenge of the mission of the LFEE education program is to ensure that environmental issues and concerns are part of the education of every MIT student, not just those who will become environmental scientists, engineers, and planners. All students at MIT need to understand what is happening in the world that we inhabit, to be aware of how human activities are influencing this world, and to acquire a sense of responsibility for the planet and its inhabitants.

Towards this end, the program has identified three broad constituencies and conducts a range of activities to meet special goals for each group:

The MIT Community

The goal is to improve environmental literacy and strengthen education on the environment at MIT. LFEE is

The Local and Regional Community

LFEE's goal is to cultivate the improvement of math, science, and technology education, particularly in the Cambridge Public Schools by

The International and National Communities

LFEE is fostering multidisciplinary international environmental education that integrates technological and social perspectives by

The three sets of objectives of the LFEE Education Program are conceived to be interconnected and interdependent. Meeting the challenges of environmental sustainability requires that lessons learned in international environmental research and education inform the environmental dimension of education domestically as well.

David H. Marks
Morton and Claire Goulder Family Professor
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Engineering Systems

More information about the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment can be found on the web at


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