MassCEC Awards $160,000 in Grants To Clean Energy Researchers at Four Mass. Institutions

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Craig Gilvarg
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Jun 15, 2011 –

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) today announced that four clean energy researchers will receive grants under the MassCEC Catalyst Program, which supports the commercialization of game-changing clean energy technologies coming out of Massachusetts’ world-class research institutions.
“Massachusetts is uniquely suited to prosper in the clean energy sector – and the innovative research coming out of our world-renowned educational institutions is a big factor in that equation,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., who chairs the MassCEC board of directors.  “MassCEC’s Catalyst awards play directly to the Commonwealth’s strengths in education, R & D, and innovation.  We are pleased to offer these grants and look forward to seeing the work of the recipients move toward commercialization as a result.” 
The MassCEC Catalyst Program, which is funded by MassCEC and managed by MTTC, awards early-stage researchers grant awards of up to $40,000 to help demonstrate the commercial viability of their clean energy technology. Recipients must use funding for projects that advance the eventual commercialization of their technologies. Awards are used to develop prototypes, or to gather initial data showing proof of a concept or to obtain data that show a technology’s competitive advantage and how it compares to existing technologies. The goal of the Catalyst Program is to help technologies progress along the development curve to a point where additional commercialization funding can be obtained.
“MassCEC’s Catalyst program showcases the Commonwealth’s vibrant community of passionate technologists who are working to propel clean energy technologies from the research lab to the global marketplace,” said MassCEC Executive Director Patrick Cloney. “The support through MassCEC’s Catalyst Program is helping put us one step closer to making clean energy a marquee industry in Massachusetts, like life sciences, IT and financial service.” 
"The MassCEC Catalyst Program awards continue to support some of Massachusetts leading researchers as they commercialize their research,” said Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center Director Abi Barrow. “Specifically the funds enable the awardees to show how their technologies will work in the real world."
MassCEC Catalyst Program received 22 applications from researchers throughout the state in the second round of the program. The second round of awards in this program goes to the following researchers:
Michael Gevelber, Ph.D. and Donald Wroblewski, Ph.D. “Achieving Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings: Development of a Software Tool to Optimize Building HVAC.”
Boston University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering
This research effort is directed at developing a new software tool that improves the energy efficiency of building HVAC systems, which is significant since it accounts for 50 percent to 70 percent of building energy use. The system is directed at optimizing the settings of building HVAC control systems, which are many times inefficient since they were originally designed when energy was cheap. MassCEC’s Catalyst Program funding will help the team develop of a system prototype and performance evaluation for a large, mixed used building at Boston University.
Vladimir Bulovic, Ph.D. and Richard R. Lunt, Ph.D.“Low-Cost Transparent Photovoltaic Solar Cells for Windows in Homes, Buildings, and Automobiles”
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The team will explore transparent excitonic photovoltaic technologies that can be optimized to retain high glass transparency while utilizing absorbed infrared light to generate power.  These devices can be integrated onto windowpanes in homes, skyscrapers and automobiles, enhancing the functionality of existing transparent surfaces. MassCEC’s Catalyst Program funding will be used to develop a prototype large-area, transparent solar cell:  a scalability demonstration that will accelerate market acceptance of this technology.
John M. Rice, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering; Yong K. Kim, Ph.D., Department of Bioengineering. “Reducing Our Transportation Carbon Footprint Using UMD’s Z-Axis Technology for Creating Lighter, Corrosion Resistant and Lower Cost Composite Materials”
University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth
The team at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth has invented and developed new generation of inter-laminar fiber reinforced resin composite materials has been invented and developed.  These new composite materials have dramatically improved their impact strength and resistance to inter-laminar cracking. MassCEC’s Catalyst Program funding will allow researchers to apply the new technology to new application areas affecting the lowering of the overall carbon footprint of transportation vehicles (airliners, automobiles, boats).  
Taofang Zeng, Ph.D. “Thermal Insulation Materials and Structures for Building Energy Conservation”
Mechanical Engineering Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MassCEC’s Catalyst Program funding will be utilized to research methods to reduce the manufacturing cost of silica aerogels and thus to allow wide applications. Thermal insulation is one of the most efficient ways for energy conservation. Silica aerogels are a material with the best insulation properties.