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Faculty seed grants are awarded for research proposals with a strong potential for high impact on energy supply and use. These “proof of concept” awards bridge theory to early experiments and analysis. Seed grants are awarded each year by the Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE), the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC) and the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy. The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) also provides funding for exploratory research. The Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium (BAPVC) awards grants for research that will reduce the cost of utility-scale solar modules.

Below is a list of recent grant recipients. For details about previous awards, see "More Information" on the right.

2015 Seed Grant Recipients

Natural Gas Initiative
Funding Year Research Topic Description Principal Investigtors
2015 Simultaneous atmospheric C1-C3 detection with compact midinfrared laser sensor The project goal is development of a laser-based instrument for field monitoring of methane, ethane, and propane in the atmosphere. The sensor will...

Ronald Hanson, Mechanical Engineering; Robert Jackson, Earth System Science

2015 Semiconductor lasers for methane leak detection and monitoring This research is focused on developing compact, efficient laser sensors that could be widely deployed (at low cost and mass-producible) to detect and...

Leo Hollberg, Physics

2015 Converting methane to methanol using nature-inspired, self-assembled material The research is focused on engineering new materials. Composed of microporous polymer networks with embedded metallic clusters, these materials will...

Matteo Cargnello, Chemical Engineering

2015 Rational design of catalysts for the direct conversion of natural gas to methanol This research will design new catalysts for the direct conversion of methane to methanol. The research focuses on MoS2 catalysts, using metal dopants...

Xiaolin Zheng, Mechanical Engineering; Jens Nørskov, Chemical Engineering

2015 Natural gas supply and the economy-wide impacts of U.S. climate change policies The project will extend an energy-environment-economy model of the U.S. to enable it to capture major changes of gas supply and the associated...

Lawrence Goulder, Economics; John Weyant, Management Science & Engineering 

Precourt Institute for Energy
Funding Year Research Topic Description Principal Investigtors
2015 Biosynthetic modification of cellulose for improved cellulose-to-ethanol conversion The goal of this project is to develop a new strategy for modifying plants to produce cellulose with enhanced extractability and conversion...

Lynette Cegelski, Chemistry

2015 ‘Reset’ of America’s nuclear waste-management program The researchers propose a critical analysis of nuclear waste-management policy in the United States and create a handbook to help inform new...

Rodney Ewing, Geological Sciences, Center for International Security and Cooperation

2015 Novel architectural principles for extremely energy-efficient information processing The goal is to develop new theoretical models of energy-efficient data processing that reduce electricity consumption at computer-server farms. 

Hideo Mabuchi, Applied Physics

2015 Towards a U.S.-Mexico research collaborative on the energy-water nexus in the context of climate change Seed money will be used to launch a two-year research project on the water-energy-climate nexus along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Bruce Cain, Political Science, and Robert Jackson, Earth System Science; Co-Investigator: Newsha Ajami, Program on Water in the West

2015 Assessing the effect of post-sale customer service on solar PV product usage and impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa The goal is to gain a better understanding of the factors involved in successful consumer adoption of inexpensive solar-powered lanterns in sub-...

Frank Wolak, Economics, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD); Co-Investigators: Mark Thurber and Ognen Stojanovski, PESD

2015 Mechanism for broadband white-light emission from two-dimensional hybrid perovskites The goal is to understand the light-emissions characteristics of hybrid perovskites to engineer, optimize and control the efficiency of next-...

Aaron Lindenberg, Materials Science and Engineering, SLAC Photon Science; Hemamala Karunadasa, Chemistry

2015 Defining structure function relationships for di-iron-hydrogenase oxygen tolerance The long-term objective is to engineer a photosynthetic bacterium that efficiently produces clean hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. 

James Swartz , Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering; Marc Deller, ChEM-H, SLAC

2015 Synthesis, characterization and testing of sorbents for carbon capture The team will synthesize and characterize promising carbon-based materials for capture of carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas- and coal-fired...

Zhenan Bao, Chemical Engineering, and Jennifer Wilcox, Energy Resources Engineering: Dennis Nordlund and Dimosthenis Sokaras, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC

TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy
Funding Year Research Topic Description Principal Investigtors
2015 Novel high-voltage grid-scale battery The goal of the project is to develop an inexpensive battery to store surplus energy on the electric grid. 

William Chueh, Materials Science and Engineering

2015 Demand response: The interweaving of humans and the power grid The researchers will focus on designing efficient demand-response programs that encourage consumers to use electricity in off-peak hours.  

Ramesh Johari, Management Science and Engineering

2015 Electrostatically achieving record low work functions for efficient thermionic energy conversion The goal is to create a device made with graphene that converts waste heat into electricity more efficiently. 

David Goldhaber-Gordon, Physics; Nick Melosh, Materials Science and Engineering

2015 Water purification as an appliance on solar microgrids The research goal is to develop a compact solar-powered water purification system that can be deployed in remote areas of the world.

Christopher Chidsey, Chemistry; Juan Santiago, Mechanical Engineering