The following list presents the poster abstracts of MIT Energy Night 2011 in different topics.

You may also download our Booklet and Flyer.


1-Optimizing the Integration of Solar Energy Harvesting With Seawater Greenhouses

Chris Mackey (

Many experts agree that the most cost-effective means of scaling-up solar power is a concentrated solar power (CSP) strategy that targets the world’s desert regions.  However, there are several barriers to this approach, notably the requirement for demineralized water to keep mirrors clean and the provision of adequate food and water for workers in extreme desert regions.  For this reason, many have suggested a simultaneous deployment of CSP with seawater greenhouses, which could address these issues by desalinating large quantities of seawater using waste heat from the CSP steam cycle.  I propose a further innovation on this scheme where the roof of the seawater greenhouse is made of today’s standard low-e glass and reflects incoming infrared light not used by greenhouse plants to a collector that preheats water for the steam cycle.  Accordingly, the greenhouse is kept cooler and more amenable to plants while the steam cycle becomes more efficient.


2-High-Performance Solar Thermoelectric Power Conversion: Modeling, Optimization, and Experiments

Kenneth McEnaney, (

Certain materials have the unique property that they can convert heat directly into electricity.  These materials, called thermoelectrics, have traditionally only been used for scavenging energy from waste heat or for use in laboratory-scale temperature control systems.  Recently we have experimentally shown that thermoelectrics, in conjunction with selective surfaces, can harvest the energy of the sun at efficiencies approaching 5%, an eightfold improvement in the performance of these devices.  If this solar thermoelectric generator is combined with an optical concentration system, efficiencies can exceed 10%.  Solar thermoelectrics are also ideal for cogeneration systems where both electricity and domestic hot water are generated.  This poster summarizes our modeling and experiments in this field.


3-Thermal stability of nano-structured selective emitters for Thermal Photovoltaics

Heon Ju Lee, (

A fundamental challenge in solar-thermal-electrical energy conversion is the thermal stability of materials and devices at high operational temperatures. This work focuses on the thermal stability of tungsten selective emitters for thermal photovoltaic (TPV) systems which are anticipated to enhance the conversion efficiency of them.

Photonic crystals are periodic nano-structures that are designed to affect the motion of photons at certain wavelengths. The nano-structured patterns, however, lose their structural integrity at high temperature, which disrupts the tight tolerances required for spectral control of the thermal emitters. As an emitter material, we have tested polycrystalline tungsten (PCW). With several firing tests at 1200oC, we have observed that grain growth and recrystallization, surface diffusion and oxidation are the major modes of degradation of the tungsten nano-structures. We are implementing the design idea of the flat surface tungsten photonic crystal (FSTPC) with damascened IR transparent ceramic material.

4-First-principles design of high-energy-density solar thermal fuels

Alexie Kolpak, (

Solar thermal fuels, which store energy from the sun in the chemical bonds of molecules, are potentially 100% renewable, produce no emissions, and can be recharged without electricity.  Large scale adoption of this promising energy technology requires new materials that exhibit high energy density, thermal stability, absorption efficiency, and degradation-resistance.  We present a novel approach for designing such materials based on combining cutting-edge nanotechnology with well-known photochromic molecules to form hybrid nanostructure-based fuels.  Using first-principles computations, we show that the unique phase space of these nanostructures provides a highly effective set of tuning parameters for simultaneously optimizing the desired properties, resulting in solar thermal fuels with predicted volumetric energy densities similar to or greater than Li-ion batteries and ~10,000 greater than the single currently existing recyclable solar thermal fuel.  Our work could thus lead to an economically viable, highly renewable, and emission-free method of solar energy storage and conversion.

5-Three-Dimensional Photovoltaics

Marco Bernardi, (

Common photovoltaic (PV) rooftop installations collect solar energy using flat panels in the absence of sun tracking systems and using basic panel orientation guidelines to optimize energy generation. We present an alternative scheme to optimize solar energy collection using static assemblies of PV panels arranged in three dimensions. We simulated and experimentally tested three-dimensional PV (3D-PV) systems, and show here how they can generate much higher energy densities (energy per base area, kWh/m2) than flat structures at all latitudes, double the number of useful peak hours and reduce the seasonal and latitude variation of energy generation, with even higher benefits in case of cloudy weather. Our 3D-PV technology holds great potential to reduce the installation costs of PV systems and to manufacture high energy density solar-powered chargers for electrical cars and bikes. Prototypes of 3D-PV structures of various sizes and shapes will be displayed.


6-Explore Light Trapping for Thin-Film Silicon Solar Cells—Design and Fabrication

Xing Sheng, (

The efficiency of thin film silicon solar cells critically depends on optical absorption since crystalline silicon has low absorption coefficient in the red and near-infrared wavelength ranges. In this work, we propose to integrate submicron gratings and a distributed Bragg reflector (DBR) as a light trapping structure on the backside of 1.5 um microcrystalline silicon solar cells. Numerical calculations predict that by optimizing the feature sizes of the gratings and DBR, more than 30% relative efficiency increase can be obtained, compared to the bare thin film Si. Specifically, we fabricate the gratings by using self-assembled porous anodic alumina as a deposition mask, which is proved to be a suitable technique for low-cost and highly effective production. Experimentally, external quantum efficiency (EQE) spectra clearly demonstrate that photon responses are greatly enhanced by introducing our designed back structure, and a 21% relative efficiency enhancement is achieved in microcrystalline thin film cells.

7-Solar cells and supercapacitor based on grapheme

Xinming Li, (

Graphene has been widely used for nanoelectronics and transparent electrodes owing to its unique nanostructure and conductibility. Here we directly deposited graphene films on n-type silicon (n-Si) to form Schottky junction solar cells. The power conversion efficiencies of the graphene/n-Si solar cells are up to 2.5% at AM 1.5. Chemical doping of graphene films with SOCl2, led to an obvious enhancement of Schottky junction. The solar energy conversion efficiency was improved to 3.7~3.9%. Besides, We report a novel and simple approach to controllably fabricate graphene fiber, a porous and continuous macrostructure based on two-dimensional (2D) CVD-grown films. The cyclic voltammetric studies show typical capacitive behavior for the porous graphene fibers with good rate stability and capacitance values ranging from 0.6 to 1.4 mF/cm2. The graphene/MnO2 composites exhibit remarkable enhancement of combined performance both with respect to discharge capacitance (up to 12.4 mF/cm2) and cycling stability.



8-Optimizing the Cabling Layout of a Wind Farm

Constantin Berzan, (

A good cabling layout can substantially reduce the cost of building a wind farm. For small farms, experts often design the layout by hand, or by brute force. For larger farms, these approaches are not applicable. We present initial work towards automating the design of cabling layouts for large-scale wind farms. We build a problem model that incorporates real-world constraints, and then decompose the problem into three layers: circuit, substation, and full farm. When there is a single cable type, the circuit and substation layers map to graph problems (the uncapacitated and capacitated minimum spanning tree). For the full farm layer, we find a feasible solution using a greedy top-down algorithm. When there are multiple cabletypes, we focus on the first layer, presenting an algorithm to find the optimal circuit. We then discuss under what conditions the problem can be simplified to the case with a single cable type.


9-Nanoengineered Surfaces for Anti-Fouling of Heat Exchangers in Geothermal Systems

Alexander Rehn, (

The hurdle that renewable energy must overcome before it can become a major sector of the energy market is it must become more cost effective.  In the case of geothermal systems, there are significant issues with the fouling of heat exchanger components due to the contaminants in the well water extracted from the ground such as silica, calcium carbonate, and sulfides.  This fouling of the heat exchangers causes the plant to shutdown in order to clean the heat exchangers and regain their operational capacity.  This shutdown period is costly due to the cleaning process and the lost production cost.  In this study, different nanoengineered surfaces are investigated for their uses as fouling inhibitors on heat exchanger components to enhance the operational time of the plant.

10-Danehy Park Wind Turbine Project Feasibility Assessment

Cy Chan, Pamela Silva, Chao Zhang, (

The poster presents the results of a preliminary wind turbine project assessment report coordinated with staff at the City of Cambridge to determine the feasibility of a wind turbine installation at Danehy Park in north Cambridge.  We conducted a wind resource assessment, community and environmental impact study, and financial analysis. Since no specific turbine model had been selected, our report included a five turbine evaluation set covering a range of sizes and powers.  Our team installed on-site wind speed sensors and collected data over seven months to estimate the wind resource and power generation potential for each turbine in our evaluation set.  We interviewed experts to gauge potential impacts on local wildlife and conducted a shadow flicker and noise analysis to estimate impacts on the local community. The report also includes a 25-year net present value analysis to estimate the levels of incentives necessary to make a project viable.


11-CFD wind resource assessment in urban environments - MIT campus case-study

Alex Kalmikov, Katherine Dykes, Cy Chan, (

Progress in Computational Fluid Dynamics methods holds potential for the advancement of wind energy resource assessment in complex urban terrain by modeling wind circulation around urban obstacles. CFD simulations have been used to evaluate the wind energy potential on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. The assessment has been enhanced by integration of local wind measurements and observations from several nearby reference sites into the CFD model in order to estimate the local long-term climatology. Measured data from two site specific met masts have been used in direct wind power analysis. Comparisons between the measurements and the simulated results allowed validation of the modeling for mean wind speed, wind power density and wind variability parameterized by Weibull distribution. This analysis provides an improved understanding of the micro-climate of wind resource on the MIT campus and can facilitate optimal siting of small turbines on campus.


12-Ocean Renewable Energy Storage - Grid-Scale energy storage for floating energy harvesters

James Meredith, (

Energy storage is becoming increasingly important as renewable power generation becomes a more significant contributor of power to the grid. We are developing an energy storage device that uses high pressure water deep below the ocean surface in a pumped hydro scheme to store energy on the sea floor. We propose the creation of large concrete vessels to be placed on the ocean floor at depth between 200-750m able to store energy on the tens of MWh scale. Water is allowed to flow into the vessel through a turbine, producing power. Water is then pumped out of the vessel to store energy. These vessels may also be coupled to floating offshore energy harvesters. The results of a lab-scale prototype and preliminary economic analysis are presented.



13-Understanding the Environmental Impact of Alternative Jet Fuels

Michael Parran, (

At around 2% of national demand, the U.S. government is the single largest consumer of oil in the nation. The DoD accounts for 93% of federal government consumption; over half of this consumption is jet fuel. The Navy consumes about 24% of DoD consumption, totaling about 28.5 million barrels a year.  The U.S. Navy along with other commercial aviation parties have identified two major approaches to producing alternative jet fuel that are considered drop-in replacements for conventional jet fuel: Hydroprocessed Renewable Jet (HRJ) fuel and Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) derived jet fuel. HRJs are biofuels derived from biomass, specifically organic plant and animal oils and lipids.  Fischer-Tropsch derived fuels utilize a blend of fossil fuels (coal or natural gas) and biomass as input feedstock.   This study investigates the environmental impacts in terms of green house gas emissions, land use, and water of these two promising pathways of alternative jet fuels.


14-Fluid mechanics of geological carbon dioxide storage

Christopher MacMinn, (

Injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) into saline aquifers is a promising option for reducing global CO2 emissions. After injection, the buoyant CO2 will rise toward the top of the aquifer, and may migrate laterally by tens or hundreds of kilometers due to aquifer slope or natural groundwater flow. We use theoretical models and simple experiments to study CO2 spreading and migration in the subsurface. Our goal is to develop models that are as simple as possible, while still capturing the important aspects of the physics of CO2 migration. These models are useful for understanding how the various physical mechanisms interact with one-another to determine, for example, how far and how quickly the CO2 will migrate away from the injection well. In addition, these models can be used to estimate the maximum amount of CO2 that could be injected into an aquifer.


15-Evaluation of Warm Carbon Dioxide Capture Technologies for IGCC Systems

David J. Couling, Kshitij Prakash, William H. Green, (

A good cabling layout can substantially reduce the cost of building a wind farm. For small farms, experts often design the layout by hand, or by brute force. For larger farms, these approaches are not applicable. We present initial work towards automating the design of cabling layouts for large-scale wind farms. We build a problem model that incorporates real-world constraints, and then decompose the problem into three layers: circuit, substation, and full farm. When there is a single cable type, the circuit and substation layers map to graph problems (the uncapacitated and capacitated minimum spanning tree). For the full farm layer, we find a feasible solution using a greedy top-down algorithm. When there are multiple cable types, we focus on the first layer, presenting an algorithm to find the optimal circuit. We then discuss under what conditions the problem can be simplified to the case with a single cable type.

16-Cavity Enhanced Acoustic Energy Harvesting

Jonathan Singer, Kevin Gotrik, Tim Zens (

We have developed an energy harvesting system that applies methods commonly used to boost solar cell performance to acoustic radiation.  Our design works by coupling an one-dimensional phononic Fabry-Perot cavity with commercial acoustic resonators. This approach addresses the two largest limitations of sound harvesting which are energy density and matching drive frequency by amplification of the resonant.frequencies of the harvester. The cavity is constructed by using perforated aluminum sheets to create variable acoustic impedance tunable to the desired noise source and resonator.  The resulting cavity mode creates planar intensity “hot spots” into which we place the resonators.  The energy density (effectiveness of harvesting) of the sound inside the cavity can be simulated to be boosted by a factor of 4-900X depending on the desired bandwidth of the resonance.  For example, we have experimentally demonstrated a scale model possessing 500X enhancement with a FWHM of 25 Hz.


17-Practical Energy Network (PEN)

Heather Beem, (

PEN is a network of high school clubs around the world (with an emphasis on developing countries). In these clubs, students learn the science behind energy and through hands-on education, they learn to build their own devices and choose which are most interesting for them. We want more kids to be tinkerers, like William Kamkwamba!


18-Price regulation and risk: The relevance of regulatory independence

Christoph Rothballer, (

I empirically analyze the impact of price regulation, the regulatory regime, and regulatory independence on systematic risk using a global sample of 792 listed firms, mainly from the utilities sector. I find that price regulation significantly reduces systematic risk, reaffirming Peltzmann's buffering hypothesis. In contrast to previous empirical work, I verify the theoretical prediction that incentive regulation entails higher market risk relative to cost-based regulation, but only if jointly implemented with a politically independent regulator. I conclude that only independent regulatory institutions effectively avoid regulatory capture and make use of the discretionary powers embedded in incentive regulation in imposing risks onto firms. My data also provides evidence that independent regulators signal regulatory commitment, and hence reduce regulatory uncertainty, cost of capital premiums, and potentially consumer prices. Policy makers should consider the benefits of a strong institutional foundation of regulatory independence to (1) reduce regulatory uncertainty and (2) effectively allocate risks under incentive regimes.


19-10-Liter Water Housing


This project aims to design the instant housing unit for Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. The pivotal of this housing is the micro equipment which can maximize the capacity of the minimum amount of water source. 10L source of water will be used as a source of creating electricity, as a regulator of micro environment and later on as a drinking water.


20-Study and prediction of the energy interactions between buildings and the urban environment

Bruno Bueno, (

The use of air-conditioning systems is expected to increase in the following years as a consequence of global-scale and urban-scale climate warming. Waste heat released by air-conditioning systems can be an important cause of Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. At the same time, the UHI effect can have an impact on the energy consumption of buildings and, consequently, on their waste heat emissions. The study of the reciprocal interactions between building energy and the urban climate is an open research field that.combines both disciplines. This research proposes an alternative to microscale and macroscale fluid dynamic models by investigating computationally fast solutions based on mass and energy conservation principles and on simplifications of the fluid motion equations.

21-Life-cycle assessment of low-energy Mediterranean houses

Helena Monteiro, (

Many research studies have focused on reducing operational energy in buildings. However, underestimating other LC phases and the full LC impacts of buildings can lead to problem shifting. This research proposes to overcome this existing gap and has two major goals. Firstly, to use life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology to comparatively access the LC energy and environmental impacts of three houses – a business as usual, a low-energy and a very-low-energy house – located in a Mediterranean climate. Secondly, to use multi-criteria decision analysis to account for the trade-offs between the three houses and to identity the key LC passive measures for each house. Preliminary results have shown that when especially when HVAC levels are reduced the material production becomes the most important process. This research outcome shall support different building stakeholders (user community, architects and building designers) through a list of guidelines for “LC enhanced houses for Mediterranean climates.

22-CoolVent: a simple tool to predict the natural ventilation potential in energy efficient buildings

Alejandra Menchaca, (

CoolVent is a simple network flow simulation tool that allows architects and engineers to predict the potential of using natural ventilation in a future building. Its input consists of only the main aspects of building geometry that are relevant to the physics of natural ventilation, and its output includes zone temperature, flowrate and comfort conditions. The tool is unique in two main aspects. First, unlike other network flow tools, CoolVent couples the airflow and thermal dynamics of the building, allowing flowrate and temperature to be estimated simultaneously and as a function of each other. And second, unlike many other energy or airflow simulation tools it can run in a matter of seconds, without the need to specify intricate details of the building properties that are not relevant to the physics of natural ventilation. The use of CoolVent can greatly simplify the early design stage of a natural ventilation system, and have a great influence on the final environmental impact of a building.

23-More Than Just a Roof

Ladan Ghobad, (

The purpose of this research is to analyze and compare Roof-lighting Systems that incorporate daylighting in buildings. Daylighting is a strategy to increase energy efficiency in buildings by using sunlight rather than artificial light. Roof-lighting becomes important in case of flat buildings with large surface areas and in case of dense urban contexts, where there is a little chance to receive daylight through buildings’ sides. Although daylighting through roof has several advantages, it should be precisely controlled to avoid visual problems: glare and high level of contrast in a space and thermal problems: excessive solar heat gain and heat loss through the glazing areas. To this end, a systematic evaluation technique is suggested for roofing systems such as skylights, sawtooth roofs and roof monitors. These systems are compared with each other in terms of visual and thermal performance by utilizing computer programs such as Diva (Radiance+Rhino) and DesignBuilder (EnergyPlus).


24-Advanced Methods and Diagnostics for Boiling Heat Transfer and Two-Phase Flow Phenomena in Nuclear Reactors

Despoina Chatzikyriakou, (

Complex two-phase flow and heat transfer phenomena are examined in the context of the thermal-hydraulics of the Pressurized and the Boiling Water Reactors. The study consists of two parts: modeling using advanced CFD and Interface Tracking Methods (ITM) and then validation of the models using the MIT boiling heat transfer laboratory database. Currently, the prediction of the friction factor and theevaluation of integral quantities in a channel with attached static bubbles are in progress by means ofboth Large Eddy (LES) and Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS). Also, the prediction of the nucleation characteristics and the behavior of a single bubble is being studied both numerically (ITM) and experimentally using an advanced Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV) system, High Speed Video (HSV) and Infrared Thermometry (IR) synchronized measurements. At the same time, annular flow and droplet entrainment is studied numerically using ITMs and experimentally using an air-water rig specifically designed for the purpose.

25-Surface Science and Bond Strength Measurements Supporting U10Mo Fuel Fabrication

Eric Forrest; Lin-Wen Hu; Jacopo Buongiorno, (

Six HEU-fueled research reactors in the United States cannot be converted to LEU with existing dispersion fuels.  Low-enriched U-10Mo monolithic alloy fuel has been selected for conversion of these reactors.  Research reactors worldwide which still rely on HEU fuel would also benefit from development of the low-enriched U-10Mo fuel.  Conversion of these reactors will permanently reduce the threat of proliferation by minimizing use of HEU in the civilian fuel cycle.  However, several technical challenges remain in ensuring mechanical performance of the U-10Mo fuel.  This study investigates effects of surface cleanliness and oxidation on bond strength and wettability of fuel components.  Surface science methods including AR-XPS are used to quantitatively determine thickness of surface layers on fuel foils.  Bulge testing is explored to measure bond strength between fuel components.  Key findings include that solvent cleaning methods may not be adequate in removing surface contamination, bulge testing yields all the parameters to infer bond strength, and that surface wettability strongly depends on cleaning technique.

26-Advanced Fuels for Enhanced Safety and Economics of Nuclear Energy

John Stempien, (

Silicon carbide (SiC) fuel cladding for existing and future light water reactors may offer a number of advantages over traditional zirconium-based fuel cladding of the type that failed in Fukushima.  Potential advantages include increased fuel utilization, reactor power uprates, reduced fuel costs, and increased safety margins under accidents scenarios.  For testing performance under normal operating conditions, multi-layered SiC cladding prototypes were irradiated in a pressurized water loop in the MIT research reactor.  The prototypes were then strength tested, evaluated for irradiation enhanced corrosion, and measured for thermal conductivity.  For testing emergency performance during a core coolant uncovery, a flowing steam facility was built at MIT.  SiC samples demonstrated minimal corrosion in high temperature steam (1200°C).  Using industry standard computer codes, existing reactor cores were optimized for use with SiC cladding.  Other codes were used to simulate the thermo-mechanical behavior of SiC cladding under both normal operating conditions and accident scenarios.   



27-Compact Small Reactors

Koroush Shirvan, (

Given the increased support for future construction of nuclear power in the US, further improvement of safety and efficiency of nuclear reactors is a key objective.  As the current estimates for cost of typical sized reactors have increased, the possibility of constructing small-sized reactors is currently of great interest and has gained governmental support.  In this poster we will overview the variety of design changes to improve the safety and economics of the current designs under development for deployment in the US and across the world. All designs keep the major design features of the current light water reactor fleet operating in US while incorporating innovative components.  Specifically, the steam generators, the nuclear fuel material and geometry have been considered for potential improvements as applied to small reactor designs.

28-Unsolved Mysteries of Nuclear Fusion

Roman Ochoukov, (

The field of controlled nuclear fusion has greatly progressed since its declassification in the 1950’s. It is now common for magnetically confining plasma and fusion devices (tokamaks) to achieve plasma temperatures in ten’s of million degrees Kelvin, reach fusion relevant plasma densities, and confine fusion grade plasmas for tens of seconds. The field of inertially confined (laser heated) fusion is also only a few years away from reaching ignition: the point at which nuclear fusion can be maintained without external power input. However, despite the great experimental progress several unresolved questions remain that impede our ability to predict the performance of a potential fusion reactor. These include the maximum achievable plasma density limit, the onset of various plasma confinement modes, and the intrinsic plasma rotation observed in tokamaks. The goal of this poster is to introduce these problems to the general public.

29-Nuclear Fuel Cycle Modeling and Simulation

Samuel Brinton, (

As energy demands continue to increase, the advantages of nuclear power is a matter of common discussion among policymakers and the energy industry. The need for nuclear energy is balanced by challenges it must overcome, particularly in the waste management area. The Code for Advanced Fuel Cycles Assessment - System Dynamics (CAFCA-SD), developed at MIT, is used to analyze a variety of nuclear fuel cycle parameters to provide recommendations, especially concerning the impact of potential policy decisions on the nuclear enterprise including quantitative assessments. Issues such as consolidated interim storage, uranium availability, cost and environmental benefits of closed fuel cycles, and proliferation concerns are examples of the complex technological and policy challenges being studied. Results presented will include CAFCA’s ability to distinguish the optimized location of used nuclear fuel as well as sensitivity analysis assessing the robustness of the conclusions drawn in the MIT Future of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Study.

30-Innovative Fast Reactor Design/ Deployment Strategies for Nuclear Waste Elimination

Tingzhou Fei, Joshua Richard, Sarah Don, Michael Driscoll, (

Reactors utilizing a highly energetic neutron spectrum, often termed fast reactors, offer revolutionary improvements over current methods of nuclear energy generation.  Fast reactors generate exceptionally low waste per unit energy, are passively safe, and can even be fueled with the spent fuel generated by today's light water reactors, turning potentially hazardous waste into useful energy.   Large-scale deployment of these fast reactors has been impeded by the perceived need to begin this waste reprocessing immediately to provide fuel for fast reactors upon first startup.  To avoid the bottleneck associated with the development and deployment of fuel reprocessing, it is proposed to instead startup fast reactors using enriched uranium, similar to current industry practice, and then transition to a recycle mode once the technology is available.  Decoupling fast reactors from reprocessing technology will help expedite their deployment and ultimately achieve the overarching goal of eliminating nuclear waste and maximizing resource utilization.

31-Twisted Tape Swirl Promoter Enhancement of Critical Heat Flux

Tyrell Arment, (

In a world that is driven by economics, there is a desire to optimize heat exchanging devices to be more compact, both in terms of efficiency and power density. This research looks at using twisted-tape swirl promoters to elevate the critical heat flux (CHF), the point above which heat transfer characteristics are significantly degraded, in subcooled flow under a non-uniform heat flux. Historically, full-length twisted-tapes have been used to achieve a maximum increase in CHF; however, these full-length twisted-tapes have a large pressure drop compared to an empty tube. Therefore, in order to balance pressure drop with CHF enhancement it is desirable to develop a model to predict CHF conditions for a tube containing multiple short-length twisted-tapes placed at non-uniform intervals. This model will be directly applied to a revolutionary nuclear reactor design concept that utilizes an inverted fuel matrix in an attempt to increase its power density. 

32-Corrosion-Resistant Materials for High Temperature Lead-Bismuth Nuclear Reactors

Dr. Michael P. Short, (

A Functionally Graded Composite (FGC) that resists lead-bismuth eutectic (LBE) attack and retains its strength at very high temperatures has been developed that enables increased outlet temperature and and efficiency of lead and LBE-cooled reactors. The FGC has separate layers engineered to perform corrosion resistance and structural functions. Alloy F91 was chosen as the structural layer, due to its strength and radiation resistance. An Fe-12Cr-2Si alloy was developed based on previous work in the Fe-Cr-Si system and was used as the corrosion-resistant cladding layer, due to its chemical similarity to F91 and its superior corrosion resistance in Pb and LBE at most oxygen potentials. The allowable increases in outlet temperature and coolant velocity lead to an increase in power density, enabling either a smaller core for the same power rating or more power output for the same size core.  The FGC has been fabricated in commercial quantities using domestic vendors.


33-Energy Research at Laboratory for Electrochemical Interfaces

Bilge Yildiz, (byildiz@MIT.EDU)

The research at the Laboratory for Electrochemical Interfaces centers on understanding the response of the material surface structure and physical chemistry when driven by dynamic environments of chemical reactivity and mechanical stress. We probe the coupling of stress to the kinetics of electrochemical reactions and ion transport on material surfaces in two energy technology areas that motivate our research:

1. high temperature electrochemical activity on oxides for electricity and fuels production (as in fuel cells and electrolysis cells), and

2. passivation in metal corrosion (as in fuel transport and nuclear power infrastructure).

In these material systems, the mechanisms governing the interfacial activity are poorly understood, challenging to probe due to harsh functional conditions, and take sometimes as long as years to evolve. We advance the quantitative understanding of the mechanisms that govern how the environment, including the mechanical state, drives the surface activity and charge transport kinetics. For elucidating the relations of these mechanisms to the surface atomic and electronic structure, we develop and implement new scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy capabilities in harsh in situ conditions of temperature, reactive gasses and mechanical stresses; a first-of-its kind capability. Our computational specialization includes development of new multiscale models to overcome the timescale limitation of traditional atomistic methods while coupling to the same length scales attainable in our experiments.

Energy Initiatives

34-MIT Energy Club

Caleb Waugh and Michael Bishop, (,

Founded in 2004, the MIT Energy Club seeks to bring together and educate the MIT energy science, technology, policy and business communities through initiatives focused on understnading the global energy challenge through fact-based analysis and education


35-The MIT Clean Energy Prize

Robbie Hobbs, (

The $200,000 MIT Clean Energy Prize is the leading student-run, student-focused clean energy business creation competition in the United States. By combining unique competition incentives with the strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that exists at MIT, the competition aims to achieve the following five objectives:

• Catalyze the formation of new ventures based upon innovative technologies and ideas that have the potential to make clean energy abundant, reliable and affordable.

Educate tomorrow’s clean energy entrepreneurs through a rigorous competition process that provides ample opportunity for mentorship, expert feedback, refinement of business plans, and exposure.

• Engage student volunteer organizers throughout the northeast, affording them the opportunity to manage a large-scale entrepreneurship competition and benefit from the abundant educational and networking opportunities arising from the program.

• Develop a strong regional community and network of clean energy entrepreneurs.

• Celebrate and promote the success of student entrepreneurs and their ideas on a national stage.


36-2012 MIT Energy Conference

Jamie Fordyce, (

Each year, the MIT Energy Conference brings together thought-leaders from industry, academia, government, and the investment community to deliver critical knowledge and independent analysis on emerging trends in energy technologies, policies, and markets. Now in its seventh year, the MIT Energy Conference has become the premiere energy conference of its kind and we are proud that it continues to be entirely organized by MIT students.

Our goal is to help our audience anticipate the energy future and formulate powerful, productive ideas in the face of rapid change and uncertainty.  MIT is valued for our independence, fundamental research, foresight and original thinking. These unique qualities enable us to offer new insights ahead of conventional wisdom, with a direct impact on research focus, investment, and decision-making critical to our collective energy future.


37-Energy Finance Forum

Benjamin Britt, (

The trade-off between risk and reward has always been a crucial consideration in the energy sector. Today, however, risk profiles are rapidly evolving in response to a variety of changes — the necessity to go deeper and further for oil , the controversies surrounding shale gas extraction, the uncertainty around the future of nuclear post-Fukushima and the shifting technology and policy sands that impact cleantech development. It is in this context that financial “risk and reward” is considered.

This year’s MIT Energy Finance Forum explores these tensions in the energy space – how they impact critical investment decisions and how advances in technology and changes in policy can mitigate risks and influence those decisions.  This student-led conference will feature speakers from both the private and public sectors and is attended by hundreds of senior business executives and the brightest in academia.

38-Solar Car Team

The Solar Electric Vehicle Team is a recognized student organization at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working under the auspices of the Edgerton Center. The team draws on a broad range of technical knowledge encompassing all fields of engineering and science. Team membership provides an intense educational experience which teaches practical skills impossible to communicate in the classroom environment, turning students into engineers. In addition to providing real-world design and manufacturing experience, involvement in the team develops project management and business skills. The team also gives students the opportunity to work closely with professors and members of the business community, including those on the board of consultants, when developing the vehicles.

39-MIT Energy Initiative

Jennifer DiMase, Jameson Twomey, Debi Kedian, Samantha Farrell, (

We will present on energy UROPs, energy classes, the Energy Studies Minor, our seminar and colloquia series, the student groups that we work with, and events that we run during the year.


The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is dedicated to accelerating the success of clean energy development and implementation—while creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth in Massachusetts. MassCEC is the first state agency in the nation dedicated solely to facilitating the development of the clean energy industry. We are led by people who bring knowledge, experience and an entrepreneurial attitude to help clean energy companies take full advantage of all the state’s unique assets, to help accelerate the development of renewable energy generation projects, and to help develop a workforce that is ready to roll up its sleeves to ensure Massachusetts’ place as a national and global clean energy hub.

41-Campus Energy Task Force

Steven Lanou, (

The MIT Campus Energy Task Force has been the catalyst for an unprecedented  collaboration among staff, faculty and students to address MIT's own campus energy footprint. Come learn from MIT's campus sustainability experts what programs are underway and what progress has been made. Topics include co-generation, large scale energy efficiency programs, LEED high-performance building design, community-based social marketing for promoting sustainable behavior on campus, student projects and engagement, and much more.



Our mission is to foster commercial investment in the development of inventions and discoveries flowing from the research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Lincoln Laboratory. We do this through licensing of the intellectual property resulting from our research.

43-MIT Wind Energy Projects in Action - WEPA team

Alex Kalmikov, Cy Chan, Sungho Lee, (

MIT Wind Energy Projects in Action is a project oriented student team focused on learning wind energy engineering through hands on experience. WEPA works with MIT Facilities, neighboring municipalities, donors and members of industry to implement projects that produce wind based renewable energy solutions and to advance knowledge on use and strategies of such energy approaches through research and educational outreach. Current WEPA projects involve wind resource assessment and project feasibility studies on the MIT campus and in neighboring communities.


Energy Efficiency

44-High-Index-Contrast Self-Assembled Texture for High Performance LEDs

Lirong Z. Broderick

We developed a high-index-contrast photonic structure for improving the light extraction efficiency of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) by a self-assembly approach. In this approach, a two-dimensional grating can be non-lithographically integrated on the top of virtually any types of LEDs with controlled structural parameters and material indices. As a proof of concept, our designed photonic structure was implemented on a GaAs double heterojunction LED. Using numerical electromagnetic simulations, we explored the effects of the structural parameters (the grating period, layer thickness and material indices) on the device performances, followed by fabrication through a self-assembled porous alumina as a template. Device simulation and experimental results indicate that an optimized high-index-contrast (a-Si / air) grating obtains a much larger efficiency increase than using a low-index SiO2 grating. In addition, the devices maintain a Lambertian radiation pattern with the self-assembled grating. This technique provides an effective and low-cost method for improving LED efficiency.

45-Research at the Electrochemical Energy Laboratory (EEL)

Chris Kuryak, (

We highlight research at the Electrochemical Energy Lab that addresses fundamental materials challenges relating to energy conversion and storage. First, we demonstrate that thin-film electrodes of layer-by-layer self-assembled carbon nanotubes store very high gravimetric energy and deliver high power in lithium cells, bridging the performance gap between batteries and electrochemical capacitors. Second, we highlight our work on lithium-air batteries, which have the potential to deliver significantly higher gravimetric energies than conventional batteries. Efforts to improve efficiency and cycle ability through fundamental studies and catalyst design are presented, where the record round-trip efficiency for lithium-air batteries to date has been recently reported. Lastly, we show our recent work onthermoelectric materials, which are materials that directly convert heat into electricity. Advances in understanding the fundamentals of their nanoscale transport as well as our innovative ideas for new material design are reported.


46-GaN Nanowire Based Light Emitting Diodes

Jordan Chesin, (

Nanowires provide a unique platform towards inexpensive, high-brightness white light emitting diodes (LEDs), which have the potential to dramatically decrease energy consumption for everyday lighting. This research focuses on metal organic chemical vapor deposition growth of n-type GaN nanowires on inexpensive p-type Si to take advantage of the heterojunction at the interface as an efficient light emitter. One of the main challenges to growth of GaN on Si, the ~17% lattice mismatch was overcome by pre-saturation of the Au seed-particles during nanowire growth, which achieved dense growth comparable to controls. However, the GaN growth mechanism on Si was different than the vapor-liquid-solid growth observed on control samples. This growth mechanism is investigated and its complications for device performance are discussed.

47-The Market Economy of Trips

Dimitris Papanikolaou, (

Mobility on Demand (MOD) systems allow users to pick-up and drop-off vehicles (bikes, automobiles) ubiquitously in a network of parking stations. Asymmetric demand patterns cause unbalanced fleet allocation decreasing level of service. Current redistribution policies are complex to plan, energy intensive, and typically cost more than the usage revenues of the system. The Market Economy of Trips (MET) explores a new operation model based on a double auction market where cost-minimizing usersare both buyers and sellers of trip rights while profit-maximizing stations are competing auctioneers that trade them. Trip rights are priced relatively to the inventory needs of origin and destination stations. A theory, a game, and a model are presented to explore equilibrium and limits of efficiency of MET under different demand patterns and income distribution.


48-Energy-Efficient Water Desalination

David Cohen-Tanugi, (

As water resources worldwide become rapidly scarcer, it is becoming crucial to devise new techniques to obtain clean water from seawater. At present, water purification technologies are limited by costly energy requirements relative to the theoretical thermodynamic limit and by insufficient understanding of the physical processes underlying ion filtration and fluid transport at the molecular scale. New advances in computational materials science offer a way to investigate saltwater transport across a graphene membrane across which nanopores have been applied.



49-Green Islands Research Update - Flexibility Supports Higher Renewables Penetration

Daniel Livengood, (

Isolated island electric grids are aggressively moving to renewable energy generation as the default alternative to oil-fired generation as the tightening world petroleum market impacts the island’s energy costs.  However, these islands do not have the benefit of a large grid to balance out intermittent wind, solar and other renewables.  In addition, they often are unable to diversify the renewables geographically since the islands are relatively small.  Recent Green Islands research has therefore focused on the role of end-use and grid-based options for balancing renewables with local, flexible energy needs. This poster will highlight the key insights from recent students’ research that focused on different alternatives across islands in the Azores and Hawai'i.  Overarching topics include the role of demand response and storagefor balancing multiple renewables, wind power planning for isolated systems, electric vehicles for mobility and grid coordination, and Energy Boxes that enable grid-aware energy consumers.

50-Discovering electricity usage routines in households to enable tailored feedback

Joana Abreu, Kat Donnelly, (,

This poster summarizes the results of a small experiment that resembles a utility led AMI (“smart meter”) implementation. Evidence suggests that rational alternatives do not necessarily drive the choices made by real individuals in the privacy of their homes. Over the course of the experiment, datamining procedures recognized household electricity consumption patterns. The analysis identified for each household both: 1) daily routines common throughout the year, and 2) baselines characteristic of specific loading conditions. Approximately 80% of household electricity use can be explained within these two patterns, with several applicable “profiles” including: unoccupied baseline, hot working days, temperate working days, cold working days, and cold weekend days.

Understanding the characteristics of the utility’s customer base will facilitate demand follows supply programs. In addition, the utility would be able to segment customers by usage patterns, rather than less tangible attitudinal segments, and to design incentives customized to the customer’s situation.

51-Theory of Ultrafast Li-ion Batteries

Todd Ferguson, (

We present our group's work modeling ultrafast lithium-ion batteries, which use lithium iron phosphate in the cathode, a material known to phase separate.  We examine the material at the particle scale, modeling lithium intercalation in a single particle.  This model is then extended to the electrode scale, where the cell is simulated using porous electrode theory.  Finally, we consider double layer effects and the role of double layers in the cell.


52-High-Voltage Cathodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Alan Ransil, (

For lithium ion batteries to enable advanced automotive technologies, battery materials must be developed with increased volumetric energy densities.  This can be achieved through the development of cathodes which intercalate lithium at high voltages, delivering more power for the same amount of current.  The spinel structured LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 intercalates lithium at 4.8V and offers a 60% volumetric capacity boost at the materials level compared with LiCoO2.  However, the material has not been implemented commercially because its power capability is too low.  We have measured the rate-limiting electronic conductivity of the material using Electroimpedance Spectroscopy (EIS) and Galvanostatic Intermittent Titration Techniques (GITT), showing how it is affected by lithiation (discharging) and delithiation (charging).  Correlating our results with literature data concerning phase transitions during cycling illuminates the structure-property relationships occurring within this material and provides potential avenues by which its performance may be improved.

53-All-carbon-nanofiber electrodes for high-energy rechargeable Li-O2 batteries

Robert Mitchell, (

Hollow carbon fibers with diameters on the order of 30 nm were grown on a porous substrate, which was used as the oxygen electrode in lithium-oxygen (Li-O2) batteries. These all-carbon-fiber (binder-free) electrodes were found to yield high gravimetric energies (up to 2500 Wh/kg(discharged)) in Li-O2 cells, translating to an energy enhancement ~4 times greater than the state-of-the-art lithium intercalation compounds such as LiCoO2 (~600 Wh/kg(electrode)). The high gravimetric energy achieved in this study can be attributed to low carbon packing in the grown carbon-fiber electrodes and highly efficient utilization of the available carbon mass and void volume for Li2O2 formation. The nanofiber structure allowed for the clear visualization of Li2O2 formation and morphological evolution during discharge and its disappearance upon charge, which represents a critical step toward understanding key processes that limit the rate capability and low round-trip efficiencies of Li-O2 batteries, which are not currently understood within the field.

54-Carbon Nanotube-Enhanced Ultracapacitor

David Jenicek, (

Carbon nanotube (CNT)-based electrodes have been shown to significantly improve the performance of ultracapacitors. However, their energy density -- the relevant metric for energy storage applications – still falls far below (~ 20x) that of modern lithium-ion batteries. We are investigating different fabrication techniques that enhance electrode energy density so as to make ultracapacitors more competitive.

Additionally, we are investigating the integration of CNT-based ultracapacitors with MEMS-scaled devices. Our goal is to devise a fabrication process that is completely compatible with modern semiconductor manufacturing techniques. To date, we have successfully fabricated and tested a 3.5 mF device that measured 7.0 x 9.5mm, giving a specific capacitance 52.6 uf/mm^2. This is about two orders of magnitude greater then that achieved by trench capacitors, the current state-of-the art for large-value on-die capacitors.


55-Wind and Solar Design

“Wind and Solar Design” is a company founded in Mexico during 2007 that has developed small wind turbines to be used as Distributed Generation units. The design process required a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional effort that ultimately led to three models (1.5, 3.5 and 10 kW) currently in commercialization. Key innovations used to improve the turbines performance include an active linear electromagnetic actuator to control blade pitch angle, new airfoil geometry for a stable post-stall lift coefficient, and improved ventilation of the generator for higher power density. Field tests done at a site with extreme wind conditions (La Ventosa, Mexico with 24.6 mi/hr average wind speed) confirmed the wind turbines reliability and performance according to specifications. An integral description of the development process and of the product incorporation into the market will be presented in the poster.



Located within walking distance of the MIT campus, the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) is an MIT-partnered applied research and development laboratory offering contract R&D services to private companies, government entities, and academic institutions. Its clients run the gamut from university start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, and include Dow Corning, NREL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the US Department of Energy. CSE offers services in three key areas: (i) photovoltaic (PV) module design, manufacturing and reliability, (ii) energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings with special focus on building enclosures and occupant behavior, and (iii) start-up company support via its TechBridge commercialization program. Fraunhofer CSE’s work in these areas takes a wide variety of forms, including confidential co-development programs, third-party technology validation, market research, and joint applications for grant programs. As a member of Germany’s Fraunhofer Society, it is also part of Europe’s leading applied R&D organization.

57-Dynamo Micropower

Dynamo Micropower has developed a proprietary ultra micro-turbine architecture which will supplant conventional power solutions in the sub 10kW range. The Dynamo generator is 1/5 the size, has 50x the life, and 25% relative efficiency over gensets powered by contemporary reciprocating engines. In addition, micro-turbines are amazingly fuel flexible, enabling a broader reach over competitors. These features will allow the Dynamo engine to command an impressive price premium, while the unique architecture allows for costs competitive with conventional reciprocating engines.

58-Arctic Sand

Arctic Sand is an MIT fabless semiconductor spinoff commercializing a groundbreaking approach to power conversion that creates a platform power supply (external and internal to the devices) for several multi-billion dollar markets. Employing electrical (rather than magnetic) storage, and performing the energy transfer almost losslessly, pushes the traditional tradeoff between efficiency and circuit size to a new frontier, enabling entirely new applications and dramatically enhancing existing ones. Initiallylicensing to the mobile market, we then address the data center servers and consumer markets, resulting in billions of dollars in savings to the customers across the value chain, at no adoption cost. A seasoned team with 100+ years of experience of industry executives and MIT and Harvard Ph.D.s and MBAs are bringing Arctic Sand to market.


OnChip Power is an MIT startup commercializing a new class of power converter based on a novel VHF architecture. Today, the proliferation of compact electronic products is pushing the power conversion industry towards smaller, faster and more efficient solutions.  As conventional designs reach integration limits, OnChip's proprietary VHF architectures offer a path to further miniaturization and create a compelling value proposition for space-and-bandwidth constrained applications.  Initially, we have chosen to focus on LED lamps, where our small, reliable, low cost power supplies help enable commercially viable lighting solutions.  OnChip closed an A-Round with Venrock and Paetec in February 2011.  We are currently expanding our engineering team and looking forward to launching our first products next year.


Solartrec Inc.   Advanced heat engines for conversion of solar thermal, geothermal, biomass, and industrial heat to 24/7 electrical power at or below grid parity.  Scalable from 30 KW to 2 MW.


7AC Technologies is developing ultra high efficiency air conditioning systems that use up to 80% less electricity compared to conventional HVAC technologies. The liquid desiccant and membrane based air conditioning system is targeted to achieve substantial energy savings by replacing existing rooftop HVAC systems on commercial and industrial buildings

62-GreenTown Labs

Incubator space is great for web start-ups, but clean technology ventures require places for entrepreneurs to get dirty, bend metal, and make noise. At Greentown Labs we provide budding entrepreneurs access to the facility, services, and research & development resources needed to take their clean technology ventures to the next level.

Undergraduate Research

63-Portable Light Project for Developing Countries

Carlos Greaves, (

This past summer I worked for the Portable Light Project under the direction of Professor Sheila Kennedy. The Portable Light Project makes 'solar textiles', which consist of a 2 watt solar panel, a battery, and a circuit board with a USB output and an LED light. All of this in integrated into various hand-made or factory-made textiles such as handbags and blankets. The kits are then distributed to communities in developing countries, giving community members access to USB power and light to study or work on small business ventures at night.

I worked on the latest phase of the project which is aimed towards serving communities in the Amazon Region of Brazil. This required developing a waterproof enclosure for the circuit board, as well as greatly reducing the size of the circuit board. Several new features were also added to the circuit board including a low battery indicator and an improved USB driver that is now capable of charging smart phones including iPhone.

64-Analyzing Heavy Ion Beams in Thermonuclear Fusion Targets

Alex Salazar, (

Inertial confinement fusion requires focusing intense heavy ion beams on a target and triggering fusion reactions before the target disassembles. Most accelerators do not provide the intensity required for testing a fusion capsule, and numerical simulations can be used as a means of analyzing and improving the performance of targets. The Monte Carlo N-Particle Extended code (MCNPX) was used to model the transport of Rubidium ions through the material composing theplastic propellant layer of the Heavy Ion Fusion X-target; simulations conformed to theoretical formulae and results from the Stopping and Range of Ions in Matter (SRIM) code. Our simulations show that a 20 GeV Rubidium beam undergoes a diffused divergence and its energy spectrum broadens as it is transported through the target. The Bragg peak predicted theoretically was also reproduced by the Monte Carlo calculations. These results will support the use of the energy deposition formula in future hydro-simulations.

65-FAS Pathway to Produce High Energy Density Alcohols

Charlotte Kirk, (

This research focuses on the engineering of a fatty acid synthase pathway inEscherichia Coli. The FAS pathway will be used to produce saturated alcohols with a higher energy density than alcohols currently used as fuels, such as ethanol. Three areas of pathway design are the focus of this research. The primary focus is the design of artificial operons to be used in the pathway and the optimization of these operons through the insertion of hairpin regions. Hairpin regions inserted between genes in an operon seem to result in equal transcription levels of all desired genes as well as generally higher transcription levels. The expression of a plant thioesterase in the pathway is also an important focus. The genetic sequence of the mature protein was determined and inserted into the pathway. Finally, a method of supplementing malonate to the cell to promote greater cell activity in the area of alcohol production is being tested.

66-Liquid Metal Battery for Grid-Scale Energy Storage

Brian Oldfield, (

The Liquid Metal Battery is essentially an aluminum smelter run in both directions—separating two metals to charge, and alloying them to discharge. A company has been started for this product, and it is planned that the battery will be on the market within a decade. This battery has the potential to make a large impact in grid-scale energy storage, enabling more widespread use of intermittent sources of electricity like wind and photovoltaics.

My work this summer was primarily on the negative electrode. The stainless steel electrode that is used presently has a high electrical resistance and must be pre-treated in order for it to wet the liquid metals. I tested different materials for corrosion and wettability. I also assembled cells with some of the more promising electrode materials and determined their effect on battery performance.

67-Underwater Robot to Navigate Nuclear Power Plant Piping

Martin Lozano, (

"This project focuses on designing and developing an underwater robot that is capable of precise navigation and maneuvering and can withstand high temperatures and levels of radiation. The specific application of this project is to be marketed to nuclear power plants around the world as a safe, quick and thorough tool to internally inspect their piping networks for signs of cracks, corrosion, and other failure modes. Due to the hazardous conditions within these pipes and tanks, humans cannot safely perform these tasks themselves, and current methods often involve shutting down the plant and digging out the underground pipes to observe the outer-surface integrity, a costly and time-consuming effort. With this project, Prof. Asada and the d'Arbeloff Laboratory hope to improve the safety and security of nuclear plants and help realize the full potential of this clean energy source.

68-Re-manufacturing a Low-Carbon Sneaker

Jessica Artiles, (

This project consisted of re-manufacturing an Asics runners shoe that is more environmentally friendly. First, we calculated the carbon footprint of the shoe. We had to consider alternative sites for the manufacturing plant and the different contributions that went into the electric grid of Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. Next we looked at matching the designer's parts specification with the manufacturer's parts assembly. Once complete, we will be matching each part an energy demand that is associated with the machine that makes that part. Then, when re-designing the shoe, we  will evaluate the different shoe components that can be risked and/or substituted for another simplified part of the shoe.