MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Energy Laboratory

The Energy Laboratory and its associated Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR) are multi-disciplinary organizations bringing together sectors of the MIT community with research interests related to energy supply, conversion, policy, technology, and utilization and associated environmental, economic, geographical, and societal impacts. Professor Jefferson Tester, the Director of the Energy Laboratory, was on sabbatical this year. Associate Director Dr. Elisabeth Drake served as Acting Director in his absence, supported by Associate Director Dr. William Peters, and Administrative Officer Susan Guralnik. The CEEPR is directed by Professor Richard Schmalensee, with Dr. A. Denny Ellerman, Executive Director, and Joan E. Bubluski, Administrative Assistant.

For more than 20 years, the Energy Laboratory has sustained a unique organizational structure to develop and implement strong single- and multi-disciplinary energy-related work at MIT. It provides a variety of research opportunities for students at all levels - from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program to postdoctoral studies. Our research programs in FY95 involved about 50 undergraduates and 120 graduate students, along with about 55 associated faculty members from twelve Academic Departments representing all five of MIT's Schools.

With a fairly small, low-turnover staff, the Energy Laboratory has limited opportunities for recruitment. However, we are attentive to the goals of affirmative action and committed to increasing the representation of minorities and women on our staff. One of the two Associate Directors and the Administrative Officer are women. The senior management team of the Laboratory thus consists of two women and two men. Of two support staff hires this year, one was a black male and the other a white female.


Many of the Laboratory's projects involve quantitative and cross-disciplinary study of complex energy and environmental systems. The Sloan Automotive Laboratory, directed by Professor John Heywood and managed by Dr. Victor Wong, with sponsorship that includes three consortia (Engine Research, Engine/Fuels Interactions, Engine Lubrication), is continuing promising research to improve fuel economy and utilization within the engine and reduce adverse emissions. Research in the automotive area is being extended to marine engines in a Department of Transportation Maritime Administration sponsored program to evaluate strategies for reducing particulate pollutants from new diesel engines for marine vessels.

Energy Laboratory Collaboration with the Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS - directed by Professor William Thilly) seeks to determine how combustion emissions and effluents from treatment of hazardous wastes may lead to adverse human health impacts. The Energy Laboratory is an active member of the Program for Environmental Engineering Education and Research (PEEER) under the leadership of Professor David Marks and has also worked over the years with the Building Technology program (led by Professor Leon Glicksman) in research on energy efficient, "healthy" buildings.

Professor Adel Sarofim is leading an EPA Exploratory Research Center on sources, atmospheric transport and transformation, monitoring, and control of airborne organic compounds, staffed with colleagues from MIT, the California Institute of Technology, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. MIT scientists participating in the Center's research projects include Professors János Beér, Heywood, Simone Hochgreb, Jack Howard, Gregory McRae, Sarofim, and John Vander Sande. In addition to the research, the Center hosted a Summer Symposium entitled Prioritizing Air Pollutants: Establishing a Scientific Basis, which was chaired by Professors Thilly and Glen Cass (CalTech). In another multi-university initiative, several Energy Laboratory researchers are involved with the Emission Reduction Research Center (ERRC), which is headquartered at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Dr. Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos is the associate director, coordinating the MIT research programs, which seek new methodologies for preventing pollutant formation and for reducing or eliminating industrial pollutant emissions.

Continuing our prior internationally visible work relating to technologies for carbon dioxide mitigation through capture and sequestration of fossil-fueled power plant emissions, we are conducting a study for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate the potential environmental impacts of ocean disposal of carbon dioxide. Professor Tester is heading the project with leadership provided by Mr. Howard Herzog and Dr. Eric Adams of the Parsons Laboratory. Mr. Herzog has also procured funding for and is organizing the Third International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Removal, to be held at MIT in 1996, when it is the North American turn to be host. There are obvious synergies between mitigation technologies and the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change (described further under the CEEPR), which we hope to highlight in conjunction with this meeting.

Professor Kent Hansen and Dr. Malcolm Weiss are continuing research sponsored by the DOE related to management of nuclear waste from the DOE weapons program. Present work is related to the Hanford waste tank system. The waste stored in the tanks represents one of the most significant public risks in the entire weapons complex. Management of the operations of the system is very complex technically and administratively. The research focuses upon developing a system dynamics model of the waste tank management and operations to permit simulation of performance for a variety of policy options. Results will assist DOE in developing management strategies under a variety of possible future decision alternatives regarding regulations, finances, and technology developments.

The Electric Utility Program (EUP), directed by Mr. Stephen Connors, is jointly sponsored by thirty electric utility companies, equipment manufacturers, and fuel suppliers, and the DOE. EUP facilitates the development of collaboratively funded electric industry related research projects by bringing together MIT faculty and researchers with EUP members through an annual series of workshops and meetings. Meetings at MIT over the past year, including the annual planning meeting, have focused on competitively strategic technologies such as transmission and distribution equipment and fuel cells and on environmental issues such as electromagnetic fields (EMF). With global competition and an increasingly competitive electric sector, the EUP is broadening its membership profile and expanding its traditional engineering-based focal points to include more corporate and technological management topics. To this end, the Sloan School of Management, the Gas Turbine Laboratory, and various laboratories associated with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering have been highlighted to our sponsors, joining our traditional participants from the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Chemical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Architecture. The EUP also serves as a source of information to MIT faculty and staff, including the Industrial Liaison Program, regarding electric industry trends and leaders.

The Analysis Group for Regional Electricity Alternatives (AGREA), also directed by Mr. Connors, employs multi-attribute power systems planning tools to identify environmentally-responsible, cost-effective electric resource strategies. AGREA's long-standing New England Project, collaboratively funded by New England electric utilities and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, just completed its sixth year and continues to garner support from the region's utilities. In addition to this public policy oriented research, AGREA has recently completed research exploring the performance of biomass resources for ENEL S.p.a. in Europe, and of diversified resource portfolios for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Several programs are under way in the area of Advanced Energy and Manufacturing Technologies. A major collaborative program between MIT and the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, with funding from DOE Basic Energy Sciences, seeks new engineering understanding to improve efficiency and materials conservation in energy-intensive processes. This program, with one project led by Professor David Parks and another collaborative project involving Professors Thomas Eagar, David Hardt, and Jeffrey Lang, is directed by Professor Hardt and managed by Dr. Drake.

The Energy Laboratory is in the third year of a multi-year grant proposal from the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for "Research and Assessment Studies in Support of DOE Programs including analytical capabilities development for research and development and technology transfer related to improved resource conservation and environmental quality." This grant, managed by Dr. Drake, is currently funding a research project on oil and gas reserve valuation (Professor Morris Adelman), in addition to funding a project on developing R&D planning methods, considering energy, environmental, and economic benefits of alternatives related to processing and use of advanced materials, led by Professor Joel Clark. Dr. Marija Ilic, looking towards needs of a restructured electric transmission and distribution system, is leading a third project focusing on effective energy management under competition with real-time controls, accounting, and supporting systems. Another major project, directed by Professors Marks, Fred Moavenzadeh, and John Sterman is developing planning tools for municipal solid waste managers and industries. This program is an outgrowth of prior initiatives on industrial ecology using simulation models for life cycle analysis of technological alternatives considering environmental, safety, and economic trade-offs.

Professors Yet-Ming Chiang and Jackie Ying are leading A Research Needs Assessment for Future Use of Nanofabricated Materials in Energy Applications, a project supported by the DOE Office of Energy Research. The project's information-gathering was inaugurated by a major workshop, held at MIT in December 1994. Sixty experts gathered to discuss potential applications of nanofabrication to catalysis; separations processes; photovoltaics and photochemistry; energy storage, fuel cells, and sensors; structural ceramics, coatings, and hard materials; and to other promising energy applications. Follow-up networking is planned and the accumulated data will be described in a report to be published later this year.

Under the University Research Initiative of the Department of Defense, a five-year fundamental and applied research program on the use of chemical reactors for supercritical water oxidation of military toxic wastes is being conducted for the Army Research Office (ARO). Goals are to develop new understanding of important chemical and physical processes for successfully applying this technology, e.g., how rapidly and completely wastes can be destroyed, how fouling of vessel surfaces by solids can be minimized, how solid byproducts can be separated, and how corrosion of processing construction materials can be controlled. A related goal is to use this understanding to develop reactor models and process flowsheet simulations that will aid in the eventual implementation of the technology. The project team is led by Professor Tester and involves Professors David Cory, Peter Griffith, Jonathan Harris, Howard, Ronald Latanision, and Kenneth Smith, Dr. Peters, and Mr. Herzog.


The CEEPR is an activity, jointly sponsored at MIT by the Energy Laboratory, the Department of Economics, and the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, that funds policy-related research in energy and environmental economics. The Center receives financial support from 23 corporate sponsors and three government agencies who contribute a minimum of $35,000 annually to the Center's research program.

For the past several years, CEEPR's principal research focus has been the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, conducted in collaboration with MIT's Center for Global Change Science. This program, led by Professors Henry Jacoby and Ronald Prinn, 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. In the past year, the build-up of Joint Program funding and staff has been completed, and the program is adequately housed on the second floor of Building E40, thanks to the efforts of the Provost. The components of an integrated framework of interactive economic and climate models have been created and the integration of these models into a whole system is underway. During this past year, we have also been successful in establishing a collaborative research effort with the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory, who are providing the necessary ecological modeling to effect the linkage from global climate to local and regional effects.

The most notable new activity is the start of work under a two year grant from the U.S. Government to evaluate the costs of compliance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 to reduce acid rain precursors. This evaluation will permit the CEEPR both to address an increasingly important element of the public policy debate, namely, the cost of environmental regulation, and to conduct the first serious assessment off the innovative emissions trading provisions of this legislation which set up the largest public policy experiment to date on alternatives to command and control techniques for achieving compliance with environmental objectives.


The MIT Energy Laboratory has organized and is leading a University Research Consortium (URC) for the Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies (LMIT) Company, the new operations and management contractor for the DOE Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. Integral to LMIT's proposal for the management contract at the INEL were novel plans for reorienting and strengthening the INEL, including creating the INEL URC. The INEL URC is an MIT-led consortium of universities (including universities in the Idaho region) that will collaborate with INEL researchers and industrial partners on applied research projects of strategic value to the INEL. Synergistic benefits are expected because each participant offers special expertise and experience. Thus, university researchers are funded by LMIT through the URC to address research questions, while INEL counterparts work on development issues and industrial partners provide guidance for making the research of real commercial value. This synergy is expected to facilitate more rapid progress of research, while increasing the likelihood that research products will be successfully developed and applied commercially. Professors Tester and Mujid Kazimi are the co-Principal Investigators for the URC, which is directed by Dr. Weiss. Other URC leadership is provided by Dr. Drake, the program co-director, and by Technical Focus Area Leaders who are: Professors Eagar (Advanced Engineering Systems), Michael Golay (Nuclear Technology), and Smith (Environmental and Ecological Engineering).

Invitations for "prospectuses" were published in the Commerce Business Daily for work either beginning in Summer or Fall 1995. A total of 620 prospectuses were received at MIT from 80 universities in 41 states. Peer review groups were organized drawing from academia, industry and LMIT/INEL experts. Criteria for evaluation included the technical strength of the proposal, the potential of the targeted technology for commercialization, and the strategic relevance of the project to the INEL. Prospectuses were screened and 65 proposals were invited to compete for Summer 1995 funding. The final selection included 25 funded projects from 10 universities. Program guidelines expect that about one third of the funding of qualified proposals should go to MIT, one third to regional universities, with one third undesignated. Consortium organizers expect to support about $10 million in research in FY 96 and about $15 million annually in future years.

Under the leadership of the Program in Environmental Engineering Education and Research (PEEER), the Alliance for Global Sustainability is a major new collaboration between MIT, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH - Switzerland), and the University of Tokyo. As part of the Alliance, several Energy Laboratory researchers are developing collaborative proposals among the universities. Prof. Heywood is involved in a collaboration on sustainable transport and economic development; several faculty are formulating a program on developing planning models for cleaner technologies and processes; Dr. Ilic and others are looking at interconnected electric power systems in the 21st century, building analysis tools and multicriteria optimization models; Mr. Connors and others are studying decision-making processes in the electricity sector under sustainability constraints; and Mr. Herzog is leading a project on CO2 mitigation strategies.

The Energy Laboratory is coordinating a national program aimed at developing new technologies for rapid drilling, tunneling, and cavity creation in rock formations. Important applications include drilling for exploitation of deep petroleum, gas, and geothermal energy; mining; and tunneling for infrastructure expansion and revitalization. Under the leadership of Professor Carl Peterson, a National Advanced Drilling and Excavation Technologies Institute has been established at MIT with initial funding from the DOE. MIT contributions include expertise in engineering (Professors Kim Vandiver, Herbert Einstein, Peterson, and Tester) and earth sciences (Professor Nafi Toksoz and Dr. Roger Turpening). The major function of the Institute will be to carry out industry-guided and co-funded RD&D on proposed new technologies. Proposal solicitation and evaluation will be conducted on a national scale with U.S. universities as well as government and industrial laboratories encouraged to participate.

We have continued to seek additional external funding to expand our research in renewable energy. Recent progress in our work on converting natural gas to premium solids and liquid fuels, suggests that our approach, synthesis of metal carbides, may also be applicable to upgrading biomass. We continue to work for expanded governmental and private sector support for U.S. RD&D on hot dry rock geothermal and hydrothermal energy resources.

New collaborations with the MIT Earth Resources Laboratory are being pursued. Dr. Turpening and Professor Toksoz are developing initiatives to apply seismographic diagnostics to study hazardous nuclear wastes stored in tanks like those at the DOE Hanford site. Professor Dale Morgan is investigating opportunities for United Nations supported MIT collaboration with researchers in several Caribbean nations to explore and advance the use of geothermal energy in that region.

Additional funding is being sought from government (ARO, DOE/LMIT) and industrial sources to expand our research on supercritical fluids to include applications to synthesis of fuels and specialty chemicals, to remediation of low level mixed (radioactive) wastes, and to NMR imaging techniques for real-time diagnosis of process behavior.

The Joint Program has recently been notified that it has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to analyze the effects of efforts to control local pollutants, such as particulates and sulfur dioxide, on greenhouse gas emissions. This grant will provide a unique opportunity to integrate the local airshed modeling by Professor McRae with the global modeling of atmospheric chemistry and climate conducted by Professors Prinn and Peter Stone. The relationship is particularly important in that the developing countries, which will account for the bulk of the future global carbon dioxide emissions, appear more likely to control the local pollutants created by economic growth than to control global greenhouse gas emissions.

Jefferson W. Tester

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95