MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


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 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 FY98 involved about 40 undergraduates and 105 graduate students, along with about 100 associated faculty members from twelve Academic Departments representing all five of MIT's Schools.



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.

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 Vicki Norberg-Bohm and Jeffrey Steinfeld.

Under the leadership of Dr. Drake, the Energy Laboratory launched a new initiative, Energy Choices in a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Constrained World, with a planning workshop held at Endicott House in November 1997. 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. The November workshop was attended by 66 participants, including 21 industrial experts from 15 companies, as well as experts from the US DOE, the International Energy Agency, the Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (Japan), and the United Nations Development Programme. The attendees agreed with the need to bring improved and factual energy technology forecasting and assessment to initiatives seeking practical options for cleaner and more environmentally-friendly energy supply and use in the future. Along with the assessment activity, innovative ideas for new energy technologies will also be explored. During its initial year, the program has received funding from the AGS, four industrial sponsors, and a foundation, and is seeking additional funding from corporations and government. The foundation funding of $1.35 million over two years was used to establish the MIT Venture Fund for Energy Choices, which facilitated the development of the larger program.

Several Energy Choices research activities have been started. In the energy supply sector, Professor Mujid Kazimi is leading a collaboration with other faculty at MIT and at Tsinghua University which aims toward providing China's growing nuclear power establishment with information to facilitate the development of national standards for nuclear reactor safety and performance. A building sector initiative is led by Professor Glicksman, again involving Tsinghua University, to identify efficient, economic, lower GHG urban building design techniques and technologies for southern China. These two projects, and a third project relating to transportation options (being developed by Professor Heywood) are part of the MIT Venture Fund portfolio. Finally, the petroleum industry sponsors have strong interests in the future of their industry under GHG constraints. The Energy Choices Program has run two initial exploratory workshops with small groups of faculty and industry participants to generate new research ideas in the broad areas of advanced separations technology (led by Professor Alan Hatton) and bioprocessing (led by Professor Charles Cooney). During the next year, these ideas will be screened to identify areas worthy of research investment.

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 Richard Magee (NJIT) are associate directors. MIT scientists participating in Center research projects include Professors János Beér, John Heywood, Simone Hochgreb, Jack Howard, Gregory McRae, 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 1997, the focus of this meeting was on fine particles in the atmosphere, with special interest in issues surrounding the EPA-proposed standard regulating aerosols smaller than 2.5 um. This symposium was co-chaired by Dr. Praveen Amar of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, Professor Glen Cass of Caltech. and Dr. Jane Warren of the Health Effects Institute.

Our continuing work on carbon sequestration technologies focuses on three areas: assessment, education/outreach, and basic research on ocean sequestration. This effort is led by Howard Herzog in collaboration with Dr. Drake in the first two areas, and with Dr. Eric Adams of the Parsons Laboratory in ocean sequestration. Highlights of this effort include the January 1997 white paper and the January 1998 stockholders' workshop, attended by over 100 delegates, described earlier in the "highlights" section. We have been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Chemical and Engineering News, Discover, and other publications. This work is supported by the Federal Energy Technology Center (FETC) of the DOE.

The MIT Energy Laboratory has been phasing out 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 phaseout will be completed on September 30, 1998. During the past year, the URC has overseen 14 research projects at 10 universities (subcontracts totaling $1.55 million), including 5 projects at MIT ($829K in FY98 funding). INEEL is assuming the administration duties for the URC, and two additional research projects at MIT, funded at $456K, have been initiated under the INEEL management structure. Professors Tester and Mujid Kazimi are the co-Principal Investigators for the URC, which is directed by Dr. Malcolm Weiss. Other URC leadership is provided by Dr. Drake, the program co-director, and by Technical Focus Area Leaders who are: Professors Merton Flemings (Materials), Kazimi (Nuclear Technologies), and Kenneth Smith (Environmental Engineering).

The Electric Utility Program (EUP), directed by Mr. Stephen Connors, has been jointly sponsored by roughly twenty-five electric utility companies, equipment manufacturers, fuel suppliers, and the U.S. Dept. of Energy over the past several years. 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. In the fall of 1997 the EUP began a reorganization, which will be completed in FY1999, which recognizes the realities of an increasingly competitive and global electric industry. As part of this transformation the EUP will assume a new name The Electric Industry Program and focus on several, more focused research tracks. The first such track focuses on research topics related to electric power transmission under open access. Led by Dr. Marija Ilic, this research activity is comprised of the consortium funded project Transmissions Provision and Pricing Under Open Access. Using research from the project, Dr. Ilic and Mr. Connors led a short course in June 1998 entitled ISO Operations, Planning and Design, attended by eleven companies, the Dept. of Energy, and several academic colleagues. In addition to this transmission related work, the EUP's research efforts related to heath effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF), led by Dr. James Weaver, also continues. Electric industry responses to climate change under competition is another large area of interest where the EUP is involved, and is being pursed in conjunction with the Energy Choices Program. Mr. Connors represents the Energy Laboratory on the Technical Program Committee for the World Energy Council's 17th World Congress in Houston, in September 1998. Heavily involved in the sustainability division, Mr. Connors is one of four industry rapportuers for the topic.

The Analysis Group for Regional Electricity Alternatives (AGREA), also directed by Mr. Connors, employs multi-attribute power systems planning tools to identify environmentally-responsible and cost-effective electric development strategies. Over the past year, these techniques have been extended throughout the Energy Lab, forming the core assessment and outreach approach being employed by the Energy Choices Program, and several Alliance for Global Sustainability projects. Under the auspices of the AGS, AGREA is applying its experience in strategic planning via the multi-year SESAMS project (Strategic Electric Sector Assessment Methodology under Sustainability Conditions) in Switzerland, in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (Zürich and Lausanne) and the Paul Scherrer Institut. Another AGS project is exploring electric development strategies for China involving distributed generation and other customer-based technologies. This effort is being coordinated with Prof. Glicksman's Sustainable Buildings for China Program supported by the MIT Venture Fund. AGREA continues to be active in the assessment of environmentally proactive emissions reductions strategies for New England via activities with the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources, the Massachusetts Photovoltaics Group, and the New England Solar Energy Industries Association, all connected with provisions in regional restructuring legislation tied to the development of renewable energy sources.

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. Professors Carl Peterson and Tester direct the National Advanced Drilling and Excavation Technologies (NADET) Institute which was established at MIT in 1996 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 is to be carrying out industry-guided and co-funded RD&D on proposed new technologies. We expect to continue our project management, research, and technology transfer roles as the NADET continues on a national scale with U.S. universities as well as government and industrial laboratories encouraged to participate.

A major collaborative program between MIT and the INEEL, 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 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.

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. Specific projects focus on the kinetics of waste destruction, understanding and prevention of corrosion in process equipment, phase equilibria, and the transport and deposition of salt particles that can foul and corrode reactor vessels. Historically, much of this research was supported by an University Research Initiative Grant and supplemental student fellowship awards from the US Army Research Office (ARO). More recent ARO funding under an university-small business collaboration has supported development of mathematical models for reactors and process flowsheets. This project recently received Army approval for a 24-month, Phase 2 initiative. Other related projects are focusing on chemical synthesis in supercritical carbon dioxide and on the possible role of supercritical water oxidation in recycling components of automobiles. The supercritical fluids project team is led by Professor Tester and involves Professors Tomas Arias, David Cory, Rick Danheiser, Peter Griffith, Jack Howard, Ronald Latanision, Kenneth Smith and Jeffrey Steinfeld, Dr. Michael Modell, Dr. Peters, and Mr. Herzog, as well as visiting faculty from Merrimac College, Professors Angelike Rigos and Katherine Swallow, working with sixteen graduate students and visiting scientists.


The CEEPR is an activity, jointly hosted 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 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. The Joint Program is now in its fifth 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 continue to grow with annual funding now exceeding $3.0 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, 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. 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.


MIT, under the leadership of Mr. Herzog and Dr. Adams, is playing a leading role in an international collaborative effort between Japan, Norway, and the United States on CO2 sequestration in the ocean. The objective of this project is to investigate the technical feasibility and improve understanding of the environmental impacts of CO2 ocean sequestration. These results will be needed to develop ocean sequestration technologies that minimize ocean impacts while reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. A field experiment will take place in the summer of 2000 off the Kona Coast of Hawaii. In addition to the US DOE, other implementing organizations are the Research Institute of Innovative Technology (Japan) and the Norwegian Institute for Water Research.

We are attempting to strengthen the links between our carbon sequestration program and the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. A graduate student will be sponsored by the Energy Choices program to develop representations of sequestration technologies in their energy sector impact models. We also responded to a solicitation from the DOE Office of Energy Research on the same topic, with final awards to be announced later this summer.

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, materials science, and fuel conversion.

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

Jefferson W. Tester

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98