Drexel University is opening a new research institute that will strive to answer some of the most challenging questions about energy and environmental sustainability facing the nation today. The A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment will look at the science, economics and politics that influence decisions about energy and the environment; and serve as a resource for decision makers both in the region and around the world.
The institute will bring together researchers from Drexel’s College of Engineering; School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems; LeBow College of Business; Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design; College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Public Health, the Academy of Natural Sciences; the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the College of Computing & Informatics. The academic core of the institute will be organized into six interdependent research thrusts that focus on various scientific, technological and geopolitical aspects of energy and the environment.
“America is at a crossroads in terms of energy strategy, and Drexel’s research strengths are ideally suited to analyzing the costs, benefits and tradeoffs created by emergent and conventional energy sources,” said John A. Fry, Drexel’s president. “Drexel has made a broad commitment to use our intellectual capital to help meet the challenges facing society, and it’s in that spirit that we launch the Institute for Energy and the Environment.”
These six designated research thrusts are: Energy, Environment & Society; Energy Scenarios; Energy-Effective Design; Energy Storage Technologies; Energy Systems, Analytics and Control; and Energy Sources.
Energy, Environment & Society research teams are exploring issues such as the role of state and federal laws, policy and regulations in the development of new and existing energy resources. Energy Scenarios faculty and students are conducting holistic evaluations of different energy scenarios. Energy-Effective Design researchers are developing tools, technologies and processes to reduce energy consumption in the built environment while promoting human health and wellbeing.
Energy Storage Technologies researchers are working to solve the problems of how to efficiently store and discharge energy from conventional and renewable sources by developing new materials, devices and systems. Energy Systems, Analytics and Control researchers are working to create the Smart Grid of the future, incorporating advanced computing technologies into every aspect of power generation, delivery and consumption to improve quality of service and reduce environmental impact. And Energy Sources researchers are exploring multiple large-scale energy production technologies including solar, wind, nuclear, natural gas and biofuels to diversify and advance the nation’s energy supply.
The institute will be headed by a director, for whom the University is currently conducting a national search. Research will also be guided by the expert advice of the IExE Alliance – members of corporations, not-for-profits, NGOs, and concerned citizens, who have access to the Institute’s intellectual and physical resources- and the Scientific Advisory Board, which includes researchers and scholars with expertise in areas that advance the goals of the Institute.
“There’s a tremendous amount of complementary research going on at Drexel across fields relevant to energy and the environment,” said Joseph Hughes, PhD, dean of Drexel’s College of Engineering and founding director of the Institute. “By giving those researchers a platform to connect with external decision makers, we can help advance the critical conversations happening around energy policy.”
While research will begin immediately, plans for faculty to be assembled under one roof are already in place. A building at 3101 Market Street is being remodeled to house the Institute’s faculty, research facilities and private sector partners.