MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


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, and utilization technology, as well as associated environmental, political, economic, geographical, and societal impacts. Professor Jefferson Tester is the Director of the Energy Laboratory and is supported by Associate Director Dr. Elisabeth Drake, Associate Director Dr. William Peters, and Administrative Officer John O'Brien. The CEEPR is directed by Professor Paul Joskow, with Dr. A. Denny Ellerman, Executive Director, and Joan Bubluski, Administrative Assistant. For more than 25 years, the Energy Laboratory has sustained a unique organizational structure to develop and implement strong single- and inter-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 FY99 involved about 150 undergraduate and graduate students, along with about 80 associated faculty members from twelve Academic Departments representing all five of MIT's Schools.


A new graduate elective, Sustainable Energy (22.811J/10.391J/TPP66), was offered for the third time in the Spring term. The course was taught collaboratively by members of the Energy Laboratory and the Nuclear Engineering Department, with participation of other experts from within and without MIT. In addition to about ten listeners, 22 students from MIT, Tufts, and Harvard completed the course, which included topical papers and oral reports. The level of student participation, the richness of international viewpoints, and the interactive learning, have provided a springboard for future improvements in an exciting course on an important global topic. We are preparing a new textbook for the course, which will be tested in draft soon.

The Energy Laboratory research volume for FY99 was $8.4 million.

CEEPR completed two major milestones in FY99. First, the manuscript for Markets for Clean Air: The U.S. Acid Rain Program, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in January 2000, was completed. This book expands the earlier special report, Emissions Trading Under the U.S. Acid Rain Program, and incorporates the larger body of research that has been conducted by CEEPR over the past three years. The second milestone was the completion of the coal productivity project with publication of an extended paper in a forthcoming volume on New Developments in Productivity Analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research and several other derivative papers in various journals.

The Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change 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 Nature, Climatic Change, Journal of Climate, Foreign Affairs, the Review of Economics and Statistics, and the Energy Journal. In the past year, about a dozen articles were published and another ten were accepted for publication.

The Energy Choices Program has initiated three major new initiatives relating to its goal of seeking environmentally friendly energy technologies for a greenhouse gas-constrained world: the first is Eco-efficient Buildings for China, under the leadership of Professor Leon Glicksman and in collaboration with Tsinghua University and a building developer in China; the second focuses on Nuclear Safety and Reliability Guidance for China, led by Professor Mujid Kazimi, with collaborations with Tsinghua University and other nuclear safety groups in China; and the third investigates Road Transportation Options for the Future, under the leadership of Professor John Heywood and Dr. Malcolm Weiss. A recent fourth initiative, funded by the AGS, is the China Energy Technology Project, which examines responsible energy sector development for Shandong Province. A basic research activity involving Professors Greg Stephanopoulos and Tony Sinskey to investigate biotechnology applications to the energy industry has also been seed funded.

We are continuing as a world leader in our work relating to technologies for carbon dioxide mitigation through carbon sequestration. In January 1997, we completed a widely-read white paper on CO2 Capture, Reuse, and Storage Technologies for Mitigating Global Climate Change. In June 1998, we organized and hosted a two day Stakeholders' Workshop on Carbon Sequestration. This past year we participated in DOE's effort to roadmap the future of carbon sequestration R&D, which is documented in the February 1999 report Carbon Sequestration: State of the Science.


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, continues promising research to improve fuel economy and utilization within the engine 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 direct-injection 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. The Sloan Laboratory also engages actively in basic combustion research in advanced engine systems with US DOE support, and in engine emission research with support from the EPA Research Center on Airborne Organics. Working with the Chemical Engineering Department, and the University of Alaska, we have launched a program called the "Initiative on Clean Diesel Fuel Research" under the University of Alaska - MIT Partnership arrangement. The goal is to identify and assess the potential for significantly cleaner diesel fuels and to develop, with substantial industrial participation, a research program to evaluate and define the opportunities in clean fuel technology, including gas-to-liquid conversion processes. The study will address: Engine Technology/Fuels Interaction, Fuel Processing Technology, and Special Environmental and Economic Factors. The results will be electronically catalogued at a Document Center at the University of Alaska.

The Energy Laboratory interacts closely with the Center for Environmental Initiatives (CEI–directed by Professor David Marks) through several major sustainable energy initiatives described later in this section. Administrative duties are also provided to the CEI by the Energy Laboratory staff. Other interactions include the Building Technology program (led by Professor Leon Glicksman) in research on energy efficient, "healthy" buildings. Another 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 Education and Research (PEER) under the leadership of Professors Jeffrey Steinfeld and Philip Gschwend.

The Energy Laboratory held its second Fall workshop for participants and sponsors of the new program on Energy Choices in a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Constrained World. This initiative is an outgrowth of collaboration with the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change (co-directed by Professors Henry Jacoby and Ronald Prinn) to improve the technology characterizations in their Integrated Global Systems Model, as well as from growing concerns about the role of present and future energy choices on the local, regional, and global environment. Under the leadership of the CEI and its role in the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS), a collaboration between MIT, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH - Switzerland), and the University of Tokyo, the Energy Choices Program will interface with the Joint Program and other AGS activities. This year the focus was on the road transportation options for the future. At present, the program has received funding from the AGS, five industrial sponsors, and the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, which has established the MIT Venture Fund for Energy Choices, to facilitate the development of the larger program, committing funding of $2.35 million over a four year period. Several Energy Choices research activities are underway.

Faculty and students in Building Technology are carrying out a major program of sustainable building design and technology for developing countries. We are actively cooperating with colleagues at Tsinghua University and Tonji University and developers in Beijing and Shanghai. For large-scale projects we have carried out integrated design and computational fluid dynamics studies to enhance the use of natural ventilation as a replacement for air conditioning in residential buildings. We are also doing a detailed design of one building unit of a larger project that should reduce overall energy use by approximately 40 percent. The goal of these two projects is the development of demonstration buildings that use appropriate technologies and designs as a teaching tool and example for future projects in Chinese cities. New technologies are being evaluated such as night cooling, solar driven dehumidification, and ground coupled heat pumps. This technical work is being carried out in cooperation with the University of Tokyo and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

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. In this project, technologies such as ground source heat pumps and advanced facades are being evaluated. Ground source heat pumps improve efficiency for both heating and cooling of buildings. In addition, the ground source air conditioner 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 facades systems, when properly used, will reduce energy for air conditioning as well as artificial lighting. They will also improve interior comfort and ventilation.

Professor Kazimi is leading a collaboration with other faculty members at MIT and Tsinghua University that aims to provide China's growing nuclear energy sector with a firmer foundation for development of nuclear safety standards. That includes the evolution of the list of design basis accidents to be more risk informed, and the application of innovative technologies for safety monitoring of plant operations. In April of 1999, the project organized an international workshop on these subjects in Beijing. About half of the 60 attendants came from the various China nuclear reactor design, operation and regulatory bodies.

Professor Heywood and Dr. Weiss have started an assessment of new vehicle and fuel technologies for future road transportation, in response to increasing pressures to limit 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 moved into the mode of evaluating the implications of future transportation technologies to each of the major stakeholders in the transportation industry, including customers and the government. 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.

The newest initiative is the AGS China Energy Technology Program (CETP), where Swiss, Japanese and Chinese colleagues, along with the Analysis Group for Regional Electricity Alternatives (AGREA) team will be helping Shandong Province identify and develop environmentally responsible electric sector development strategies.

Professors Sinskey and Stephanopoulos have received seed money under the Energy Choices Program to conduct preliminary studies on technology platform development for the applications of metabolic engineering to the energy industry. Implementation of a larger program will require additional sources of funding, probably from government sources.

Professor Jack Howard directs the EPA Center on Airborne Organics. The 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. Professor John Seinfeld (Caltech) and Professor Robert Pfeffer (NJIT) are associate directors. MIT scientists participating in Center research projects include Professors Paul Barton, William Green, John Heywood, Simone Hochgreb, Jack Howard, Mario Molina, Adel Sarofim, John Vander Sande, and Dr. Arthur LaFleur. The Center hosts an annual Summer Symposium on high visibility topics in ambient air pollution. In 1998, the focus of this meeting was on Costs and Benefits Estimation in Air Quality Regulations. The meeting was co-chaired by Professor Robert Sawyer (UCal/Berkeley) and Dr. Robert Slott. Presentations and panels addressed case studies on emissions in the U.S. automotive transport and electric power generation sectors, challenges in accurately measuring atmospheric pollution effects on human health, modeling and monitoring air quality, and various related socio-political issues. The meeting identified the continuing need for more information on the impacts of atmospheric pollutants on human health, on emissions characterization, and on the economics of emissions control.

The field of carbon management 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. This effort is led by Howard Herzog. We have five projects under this heading:

The MIT Energy Laboratory completed the phase-out of its responsibility for administering the University Research Consortium (URC) on behalf of the Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Company (LMITCO), the operations and management contractor for the DOE Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). The URC continues to support research projects at MIT, primarily in nuclear technologies, and is likely to continue doing so when a new contractor, Bechtel, takes over management of INEEL, replacing LMITCO.

With support from the URC, a major new three-year program was initiated in October 1998 for development of advanced nuclear technology through an MIT/INEEL Strategic Nuclear Research Collaboration (SNRC). The aim of the SNRC is to investigate options that promote nuclear technology as a source of electricity in the next century. The program has a total funding at MIT of $1.5M per year tied with about $1M funding at INEEL. Four projects were funded under this initiative starting in October 1998: the Modular Gas Cooled Reactor (MPBR) under the direction of Professors Andrew Kadak and Ronald Balinger; the Lead-bismuth Cooled Actinide Fueled Reactor (AFR) under the direction of Professors Todreas and Kazimi; Proliferation-resistant Thorium-Uranium Fuel for Light Water Reactors under the direction of Professors Kazimi and Driscoll and; Performance-Based Regulation for Efficient Safety under the direction of Professors Apostolakis and Golay.

A major collaborative program was started in 1985 between MIT and the INEEL, with funding from DOE Basic Energy Sciences. Today this collaboration 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 by Professor Thomas Eagar, is directed by Dr. Drake. An initiative to broaden this program and bring in additional projects is under development with the goal of organizing a synergistic research activity focused on providing improved lifetime integrity for welded structures.

With DOE funding, in the Heat Transfer Laboratory, Professor Glicksman and students are carrying out studies of heat transfer and hydrodynamic scale-up in fluidized bed combustors. An experimental scale model of a large scale commercial fluidized bed has been operated to study overall flow behavior. This will provide design guidance for a larger scale commercial unit. The commercial unit promises to achieve overall thermal efficiency of 50 percent or higher. This unit will also control the emissions when dirty fuel is burned. A key problem in the design of fluidized bed combustors is the proper sizing of heat transfer surface area. These fundamental studies will allow accurate prediction of the heat transfer to the bed walls.

In the past year, activities related to the electric power sector have shifted course and intensified. In September of 1999, Professor Tester and Electric Utility Program (EUP) director, Mr. Stephen Connors decided to end the program after a twenty year run. Increased competition and restructuring in the global electric industry had radically diminished traditional electric utility interest and participation in academically funded R&D. While restructuring itself has raised many new fundamental, interesting and challenging research topics, support for research had shifted away from the electric utilities with which the EUP was designed to interact, and it was decided that the intellectual and administrative overhead of the workshop-oriented Electric Utility Program could be better applied to serving the technology companies and new electric market participants more directly via more focused efforts.

In the area of competitive power systems, a new consortium "New Concepts and Software for Competitive Power Systems: Operations and Management," led by Dr. Marija Ilic began. This consortium succeeds a smaller similar consortium that ran the previous two years. Sponsors include ABB, Electricité de France, TransEnergie U.S. (a Hydro Québec subsidiary developing transmission projects), Constellation Power (a power marketer) and the U.S. Department of Energy. Beginning in September 1999, ABB has agreed to be the founding sponsor of a second new consortium aimed at distribution system issues, entitled "Distributed Power Industry of the Future."

Another area where the Energy Lab's electric sector research has increased its activity is in the area of long-term regional strategic planning for electric sector economic and environmental performance. Mr. Connors, who has also led the Energy Lab's AGREA since 1989, has been actively involved via the Alliance for Global Sustainability, the Consortium on Environmental Challenges, and the Lab's own Energy Choices Program on a series of projects looking at energy and electricity alternatives in Switzerland, China, and Mexico.

Ongoing activities include the AGS SESAMS project which is in its second year, and the Energy Choices Program's Sustainable Buildings for China effort, where Mr. Connors serves as both an Energy Lab liaison and contributor. Mr. Connors is also participating in the CEC's Mexico City Case Study project, led by Professors Molina and McRae, applying the stakeholder-based, multi-attribute tradeoff analysis approach developed by AGREA.

Energy Lab activities related to public and professional service in the electric sector also continue. Dr. Ilic has been very active in advising the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Science Foundation regarding the technical and educational issues and challenges of electric industry restructuring. Mr. Connors has played a role as well, being a member of the World Energy Council's Technical Program Committee for its triennial Congress which was held in Houston in September 1998, and has been an invited participant by both U.S. Dept. of Energy and EPRI in strategic workshops and meetings on sustainable energy, renewables and combined heat and power.

The Energy Laboratory continues a program of scientific and engineering research to support technologies for destroying military and other hazardous wastes by oxidation in supercritical water. Important issues are corrosion prevention, phase equilibria, salt transport and deposition, and process modeling. Recent work in collaboration with a small business in the computational fluid dynamics sector has focused on development of mathematical models for reactors and process flowsheets (U.S. Army STTR funded). Related projects focus on use of supercritical fluids as media for "green chemistry." The supercritical fluids project team is led by Professor Tester and at various times has involved Professors Tomas Arias, David Cory, Rick Danheiser, Peter Griffith, Jack Howard, Ronald Latanision, Kenneth Smith and Jeffrey Steinfeld, Dr. Michael Modell, Dr. William Peters, Mr. Howard Herzog, Mr. Stephan Pilz, and Dr. Frederick Vogel, as well as visiting faculty from Merrimac College, Professors Angelike Regos and Katherine Swallow.


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 and the Joint Program receive financial support from corporate sponsors, government agencies in the U.S. and Norway, and one foundation. In addition, affiliate relations are maintained with several environmental groups and other policy-oriented research groups in other countries.

For the past several years, CEEPR's principal research activity has been conducted under the auspices of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, sponsored in collaboration with MIT's Center for Global Change Science. This program, led by Professors Jacoby and 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. The Joint Program is in its sixth year of existence during which time it has become established as one of the world's leading centers for the Integrated Assessment of Climate Change. The Integrated Global Systems Model is now operational and has provided the basis for a number of reports, articles, and presentations on the science and policy of global warming. The principal faculty and researchers are frequently requested to attend scientific and expert group meetings related to climate change. Contributions to the Joint Program remain stable with annual funding now approximately $2.5 million. The work of the Joint Program is supported financially by a number of corporate sponsors in North America, Europe and Japan, the US and Norwegian governments, and the Vetlesen Foundation.

CEEPR research outside of the Joint Program has focused on three areas: emissions trading, productivity improvements in the supply of energy, electricity markets, and energy futures, forwards and arbitrage. By merit of its research on the Title IV SO2 emissions trading program, the Center has become an authority on the actual functioning and implementation of emissions trading as an instrument for the more efficient achievement of environmental goals. The work on productivity is concerned with determining the sources and causes of the remarkable improvements that have occurred over the past 10-15 years in the supply of conventional hydrocarbon energy supplies. Most of the current work has been concerned with coal; however, with the cooperation of the Norwegian government, this research is being extended to cover oil and gas, using the North Sea as a case study. As the electric utility industry is being restructured in many countries, markets in electricity are emerging for the first time. CEEPR's research examines the functioning and performance of these new markets. Particular emphasis is placed on how restructuring decisions with respect to asset ownership, transmission access, and customer choice shape these markets. Finally, research on energy futures, forwards and arbitrage applies an area of expertise at the Sloan School to the emergence of highly liquid spot, futures and forward markets for crude oil and natural gas and to the current development of such markets for coal and electricity.


We want to build on our leadership position in carbon management technologies. In order to accomplish this we must have more faculty involved in this area. In addition to the efforts of Mr. Herzog and Dr. Drake, we have collaborated with the following faculty and staff: Dr. Adams (Parsons Lab), Prof. Chisholm (Parsons Lab), Prof. Edmond (EAPS), Prof. Jacoby (Management), Prof. Kildow (Ocean Engineering), and Dr. Reilly (Joint Program). This gives us a strong presence in ocean sequestration, terrestrial sequestration, and integrative assessments. We need additional help in the areas of geological sequestration and separation/capture. If we can identify the necessary faculty, we will be in an excellent position to attract expected new funding opportunities. First, DOE's funding for carbon sequestration is growing rapidly (i.e., FETC budget, in millions of $, was 1.6 in FY98, 6 in FY99, 9 requested in FY00, and increasing to a projected 64.5 in FY05). Office of Science budgets also show similar growth ($13 million in FY99, $26 million requested in FY00). Secondly, we hope to leverage increased industrial interest into membership in our Industrial Consortium on Carbon Management under the Energy Choices Program.

In the area of supercritical fluids, we are expanding our emphasis from research in support of waste destruction/decontamination to chemical synthesis and other applications that capitalize upon the remarkable solubilizing power, phase relationships, and species transport behavior of fluids near and above their critical point.

In the area of electrothermal (plasma) processing, we plan to pursue applications to problems in soil decontamination, extractive metallurgy, wastes recycling, and fuel conversion.

More information about the Energy Laboratory can be found on the World Wide Web at

Jefferson W. Tester

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99