October - December 1997 Issue
News Items, October - December 1997
The quarterly e-lab newsletter is now on the World Wide Web! The URL for the home page is <http://web.mit.edu/energylab/www/e-lab/elab.html>. The three previous 1997 issues are posted already. This issue will be posted within a few weeks. Mary Gallagher, Energy Laboratory staff member, and Ion Bita, MIT undergraduate student, were instrumental in designing the Web format and making it easy to access and read. Thanks for visiting.
On September 29-October 1, the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change held its twelfth Global Change Forum in Boston. The theme of the forum was "Effects of Global Change on Natural and Human Systems." Welcoming remarks by Professor Joel Moses, provost of MIT, were followed by a keynote address delivered by Professor Abram Chayes of Harvard University. Sessions on the second day considered the effects of potential climate change on health, agriculture and forestry, water supply and quality, and biodiversity and ecosystem function. A special evening discussion considered national programs for assessing climate effects and was led by Mr. Nick Reynard of the United Kingdom's Department of the Environment and Dr. Jerry Melillo of the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. On the last day participants considered how to integrate global change effects into policy analysis and public communication. A final panel discussion considered prospects for negotiation and agreement at the climate change conference to be held in Kyoto, Japan, in December. Participants in the forum included about 120 scientists, analysts, policymakers, and experts from industry, government, and academia.
A workshop to launch a new collaborative research initiative, the Program on Energy Choices in a Greenhouse Gas Constrained World, was held on November 2-4 at Endicott House, MIT's off-campus conference center. The workshop was attended by 66 people, about half from MIT and the other half representing major companies, foundations, government organizations, and foreign universities. The meeting was organized and hosted by the Energy Laboratory under the leadership of Professor Jefferson W. Tester and Dr. Elisabeth M. Drake, director and associate director of the Laboratory, respectively. The purpose of the workshop was to form partnerships among a select group of industry, academic, and policymaking colleagues to begin a focused collaborative research and outreach program based at MIT. The goals of the program are to build a credible, knowledge-based framework for assessing promising energy technology options and uncertainties, and to identify and pursue opportunities for strategic technology innovation--all aimed at responding effectively to the increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and the consequent threats of climate change. The workshop discussions served to clarify the priorities of the various stakeholders and are helping MIT define specific research proposals responsive to those priorities.
On November 13-14, the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research held its fall workshop. Topics included an update on sulfur dioxide emissions trading and compliance with Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, long-term trends in energy prices, oil revenue and public finance in oil-exporting nations, market power issues in electricity markets, improvements in coal mining productivity, and the role of OPEC. Guest speakers were Olivier Blanchard, MIT professor of economics, who discussed economic policies of the new French government, and Henry D. Jacoby, William F. Pounds Professor of Management, who talked about expectations for the upcoming global warming conference in Kyoto. The workshop was attended by more than 90 academic, industrial, and governmental representatives, national and international.
On December 2, the Electric Utility Program (EUP) held an interim workshop at MIT for the EUP consortium project, "Development and Application of Biophysical Mechanism Theory: Ruling Out Electric and Magnetic Field Exposure Conditions for Biological Effects Due to Electric Power Use." The workshop focused on the current assessment being conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) of the risk associated with electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. The consortium is supporting research on how biophysical mechanisms may or may not be affected by exposure to EMFs--a topic directly related to the NIEHS review. Workshop participants discussed the "state of the EMF debate," and investigators funded by the consortium described their current and planned research on biophysical mechanisms. Central to the discussions was the timely completion of ongoing research so that it would be available to the NIEHS in its deliberations. The ten participants in the workshop came from academia, industry, several electric utilities, and NIEHS. Director of the consortium is Professor James C. Weaver of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; and current sponsors are Allegheny Energy, Electricite de France, Ontario Hydro, and Southern California Edison Company.
On December 3-4, researchers from MIT and McGill University held a workshop at MIT focusing on research supported by the consortium "Transmission Provision and Pricing Under Open Access." Sessions focused on various technical and policy issues raised by the need to provide reliable transmission services to all participants in a competitive electric industry. Topics included allocation of line losses among generators of electric power, system reliability and congestion management, linking short-term operational requirements to long-term enhancements to the grid, equity and market power issues, and merchant power plant strategies under market uncertainty. The attendees included a dozen researchers from MIT and McGill and about 25 representatives from the electric industry. The consortium is led by Dr. Marija Ilic of MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Dr. Francisco D. Galiana of McGill University's Department of Electrical Engineering. Current consortium sponsors are Allegheny Energy, Edison Electric Institute, Electricite de France, and the Electric Power Research Institute.
Jackie Y. Ying, the Raymond A. and Helen E. St. Laurent Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, has won the American Chemical Society's Faculty Fellowship Award in Solid State Chemistry, sponsored by Exxon Corporation. The $10,000 prize is awarded by the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry and presented to a nontenured faculty member based on past and current contributions to knowledge of synthesis, reactivity, structure, and bonding in solids. Professor Ying's award recognizes her work on synthesis and catalytic properties of nanocrystalline, nonstoichiometric oxide catalysts; derivation of a novel class of transition metal oxide molecular sieves; and structure and properties of layered transmission metal molybdates. Professor Ying's research on using tailored catalysts in the photocatalytic cleanup of organic wastes was described in the July-December 1996 issue of e-lab.
Last summer the Liberty Science Center, located in Jersey City opposite the Statue of Liberty, asked the Energy Laboratory to help in planning a new permanent exhibit on energy and in reviewing the accuracy of its content. The exhibit, funded by a $1 million donation from Exxon, was to be interactive, learning-oriented, robust (hordes of schoolchildren would be coming through), and exciting. Dr. Elisabeth Drake, associate director of the Energy Laboratory, contributed by working as part of the team that planned the exhibit. The "E-Quest" exhibit opened November 18. It has five modules: atmospheric energy (solar, wind); biosphere (fossil, biomass); geological (geothermal, hot dry rock, magma); nuclear (fission, fusion); and water (hydro, tidal, wave, ocean thermal). The water exhibit, for example, contains a 20-foot wave tank with a hand-cranked wave generator. Along the tank are hand-controlled energy conversion devices such as an underflow variable-depth-and-pitch waterwheel and a bobbing "duck." Both devices are connected to meters that show energy-generation rates. Ralph Appelbaum, designer of the Holocaust Museum, managed the design of the exhibit. The exhibit is staffed by retirees from Exxon who volunteer their time.