Carnegie Mellon's Jay Whitacre receives funding from energy department

November 24, 2009

PITTSBURGH--Carnegie Mellon University's Jay Whitacre is the primary technical investigator for one of 16 awards from the U.S. Department of Energy in support of energy storage technologies that will allow for expanded integration of renewable energy resources for the U.S. power grid.

The $5 million dollar award from the Department of Energy -- which comes with $5 million in cost sharing from funding partners -- is part of a $1.6 billion package supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the private sector to support Smart Grid projects nationwide.

Whitacre, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon, will direct the technical aspect of the work, which will be shared between research labs at Carnegie Mellon and a new university spinoff company called 44 Tech in Lawrenceville, Pa.

"The goal of this project is to develop a new room-temperature sodium-ion battery technology to improve the reliability and efficiency of the grid," Whitacre said. "Hopefully, the product we produce will enable the expansion of the next generation electricity grid, where storage will be sorely needed to support intermittent renewable power sources and to stabilize the grid at times of stress."

In fact, recent analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that implementing Smart Grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent in 2030. That would mean a savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers nationwide.

The Energy Department funded work for grid development in two areas, including funding to allow parts of the grid to "talk" to each other in real time and in the area of utility-scale storage projects.

Whitacre's work falls into a second group which involves enhancing the grid's reliability and reducing the need for construction of new electricity plants.
About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon ( is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the fine arts. More than 11,000 students in the university's seven colleges and schools benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon's main campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California's Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia and Europe. The university is in the midst of a $1 billion fundraising campaign, entitled "Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University," which aims to build its endowment, support faculty and students and innovative research, and enhance the physical campus with equipment and facility improvemen

Carnegie Mellon University

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