Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am delighted to share with you the recent initiatives and activities from the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy). These highlights span roughly the last six months and encompass major endeavors focused on research, education, and outreach – the three major arms of ND Energy. As you read through the newsletter, I welcome your comments, questions, and any feedback you might have about our programs and services or the information contained herein.

I am also happy to report that we completed a successful “external review” process in early December.  Many of you may have been directly or indirectly involved, and I thank you, again, for your time and candor. This was an extremely useful exercise for all of us at ND Energy. It provided the opportunity to reflect upon our accomplishments, the impact we have made on the energy landscape at Notre Dame, and to think more broadly about how we can further our influence, especially in the areas of energy policy and reform. In the coming months, I will look forward to sharing the results with you in more detail. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Peter C. Burns    
Director, Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy)


ND Energy is pleased to welcome the following affiliated faculty to Notre Dame’s energy community: 

Abigail Mechtenberg is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Physics, focusing her research on electricity and smart grid technology, energy efficiency and consumption, and energy systems.

Jonathan Whitmer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, focusing his research on energy efficiency and consumption.
In addition, we are delighted to congratulate our affiliated faculty who have been recently acknowledged and recognized for their academic achievements. They are:
ND Energy is pleased to announce that Dr. Ian Lightcap, Research and Facilities Program Director, is a recipient of a Presidential Achievement Award for his outstanding efforts that ensure the success of the Materials Characterization Facility (MFC). Ian will formally receive his award from the President, Father John Jenkins, in June. 

Student Energy Board
ND Energy is excited to welcome the core leaders of the new Student Energy Board to the ND Energy team. They are Justin Blake, Peter Chiang, Jessica Cioffi, Ellen Londergan, Marlena Fernandez, Marc Gazda, Sarah Jen, Ethan Kovar, Kevin Weaver, Patricia Kay, Tansy Wang, and Yilong “Ray” Yang. These students, along with a broader team of board members, already have made a huge impact on energy education and awareness both on campus for other students and throughout the local community. Read More.

Research Awards 
ND Energy congratulates Dr. Haifeng Gao and Dr. Vlad Iluc, assistant professors in Chemistry, for their prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. CAREER Awards focus on a specific theme spanning a 5-year period. Read More.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $2 million to Dr. Joan F. Brennecke, Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, for research that could fundamentally change the way the country uses and produces energy. Dr. Brennecke received the grant from the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to study how ionic liquids, or salt in a liquid state, can improve the efficiency and economics of the carbon dioxide (CO2) capture process. Read More.

Research Projects
Understanding the 'wicked problem' of climate change - Frank Incropera, H. Clifford and Evelyn A. Brosey Professor Emeritus of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, acknowledges that it is somewhat unusual for an engineer to delve deeply into the topic of climate change. Scientists, not engineers, have played the most prominent roles in the climate change debate to date. However, Incropera believes solving the problem going forward will require a joint effort from the two specialties. Read More.

Why not recycled concrete? - From paper towels to cups to plastic bottles, products made from recycled materials permeate our lives. One notable exception is building materials. Why can’t we recycle concrete from our deteriorating infrastructure for use as material in new buildings and bridges? It’s a question that a team of researchers led by Yahya (Gino) Kurama, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, is examining. Read More.

Supreme Court's suspension of Clean Power Plan a 'devastating loss' for Obama administration, expert says - Bruce Huber, Associate Professor of Law, is shocked by the U.S. Supreme Court’s action Tuesday night (Feb. 10) to block the EPA from enforcing its Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate change policy. Read More.

Video: Advancing Research: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering - The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) has long been a strong area of research at Notre Dame, with historical expertise in catalysis, fluid mechanics, reaction engineering, and thermodynamics. But with significant University investment in faculty hiring – including the plan to hire eight new faculty members in CBE alone – plus the development of a new 220,000 square foot research building, McCourtney Hall, to support some areas of research in CBE, the department has entered a significant growth period. Read More.

Video: Aerospace research expertise continues to grow at the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory - The Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory (NDTL), a 25,000 square foot facility located in South Bend’s Ignition Park, is a world-class research and testing facility for turbomachinery research. Researchers in the NDTL study and test components for gas turbine engines, which are used by commercial and military aircraft, power plants, and the oil and gas industry. Read More.

Research Proposals and Awards: October 2015 - March 2016
ND Energy tracks the University’s energy-related research proposals and awards on a calendar-year basis. The data below highlights this activity for CY2015 and the first quarter of CY2016.

AWARDS CY2015                                        AWARDS Q1 – CY2016
33 total energy-related awards, $8.6M                                   5 total energy-related awards, $907K
87% affiliated with ND Energy, $7.5M                                 72% affiliated with ND Energy, $649K
19 new energy-related awards, $4M                                      4 new energy-related awards, $719K
90% affiliated with ND Energy, $3.6M                                 82% affiliated with ND Energy, $587K

PROPOSALS CY2015                                PROPOSALS Q1 – CY2016
66 total energy-related proposals, $28.4M                            21 total energy-related proposals, $9.3M
81% affiliated with ND Energy, $23M                                 73% affiliated with ND Energy, $7M

Research Fellowships for Students
ND Energy offers competitive fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students to conduct energy-related research at Notre Dame. These fellowships support new advancements in energy technologies, while broadening the educational experiences for students receiving these awards. ND Energy congratulates the 2016 recipients of The Vincent P. Slatt Fellowship for Undergraduate Research in Energy Systems and Processes, The Forgash Fellowship for Solar Energy Research, and The Patrick and Jana Eilers Graduate Student Fellowship for Energy Related Research.

Slatt scholars receive up to $5,000 each. Award recipients and their research projects are listed below.  
  • Theodore Dilenschneider (Dr. Bill Phillip), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Plug and Play Membranes: Incorporating Biofouling Resistance into Charged Nanofiltration Membranes
  • Peter Chiang (Dr. Prashant Kamat), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Electrochemical CO2 Reduction on Heterogeneous Porphyrin-Graphene Oxide Thin films Towards the Generation of Chemical Fuels
  • Jaclyn Breier (Dr. Ruilan Guo), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Investigation of the Effect of Polymer Chain Rigidity on Gas Transport Properties through the Design of Triptycene-Based Copolymers
  • Alexandria Gordon (Dr. Aimee Buccellato), School of Architecture, A Green Resilience Framework for Sustainable and Hazard Resilient Structures
  • John FitzPatrick (Dr. Peter Burns), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Thermal Stability of Uranium Peroxide Nanoclusters
  • Patricia Kay (Dr. Amy Hixon), Chemical Engineering and Energy Studies, Actinide Sorption to Aluminum (hydr)oxide Mineral Phases
  • Rodrigo Benavides (Dr. Patrick Regan), Applied & Computational Mathematics and Statistics; Energy Studies Minor, A Country’s Approach to the 2015 Paris Agreement: Comparing and Contrasting Renewable Energy Policies and Implementations in Different Countries
  • Clare Murphy (Dr. Ian Lightcap), Classics, Environmental Science, Iron (III) Oxide/Graphene Nanostructures for Solar Water Splitting
  • Kelly Valenzi, (Dr. Harindra Fernando), Mechanical Engineering, Perdigao Wind Energy Mapping Project
Non-Notre Dame Students from Atlanta University Consortium 
  • Herve Twahirwa (Applied Math and Physics, Millsaps College) Notre Dame Faculty Advisor, Dr. Ruilan Guo, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Studies of Sulfonated Triptycene-containing Random Polysulfone Copolymers for Polyelectrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs)
  • Winston Zamba (Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering, Morehouse College), Notre Dame Faculty Advisor, Dr. Prashant Kamat, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Perovskite Solar Cell and Nanostructure Assemblies for Light Energy Conversion
This year, the Eilers awards ranged from $6,500 - $6,900 per graduate student. The Forgash award for solar energy research was given to Jacob Hoffman. Award recipients and their research projects are listed below.
  • Joseph Aboki (Dr. Ruilan Guo), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Multiblock copolymers of triptycene-containing sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone)s with enhanced low RH proton conductivity and mechanical stability for polyelectrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs)
  • Yingying Chen (Dr. Na Wei), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Engineering robust yeast for enhanced biofuel production from renewable lignocellulosic biomass
  • Jacob Hoffman (Dr. Prashant Kamat), Department of Chemistry, CsPbBr3 and CsPbI3 Quantum Dot Film Deposition for the Development of Solid State Solar Cells
  • Prateek Mehta (Dr. William Schneider), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Multifunctional materials for the catalytic upgrading of natural gas liquids
  • Tyler Spano (Dr. Peter Burns), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Materials Properties of Synthetic Uranyl Vanadate Mineral Analogues
Research fellowships in energy are made possible through the generosity of Christopher (ND ’80) and Jeanine Slatt in honor of Vincent P. Slatt, Notre Dame Class of 1943; John (ND ’00) and Karla Forgash; Patrick (ND ’90) and Jana Eilers; Edward Fitzpatrick, Jr. (ND ’54); and Michael O’Sullivan (ND ‘82). 
ND Energy recognizes Patrick (ND ‘90) and Jana Eilers for their continued support and charitable contributions to research and education at the University of Notre Dame. Recently, the Eilers gifted $3M to the University for the football team’s defensive backs coaching position, explaining that athletes are stars in the classroom and stars on the football field. Since 2012, the Eilers have contributed annually to graduate student research in energy. Because of this, ND Energy has been able to provide financial support to graduate students working with our affiliated faculty on projects to support the mission of the center. Read More

ND Energy Postdoctoral Fellowships
The ND Energy Postdoctoral Fellowship Program was initiated in 2014 to enhance energy-related research at Notre Dame and to build a community of outstanding postdoctoral scholars. Awards are granted on a rolling basis. ND Energy is pleased to announce the five new awards since fall 2015. These postdoctoral fellows and their respective research projects are listed below. 
  • Dr. Peng Gao (Dr. Bill Phillip), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Elucidating the Effects of Nanoscale Structure and Chemistry on Water and Salt Transport Through Charge Mosaic Membranes
  • Yanlin Guo (Dr. Gino Kurama), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Feasibility of aerodynamically efficient tall precast concrete support towers for wind turbines
  • Maksym Zhukovskyi (Dr. Ken Kuno), Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Single particle screening of photocatalytic events in 2D metal chalcogenide nanostructures
  • Gary Zaiats (Dr. Prashant Kamat), Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory,  Photovoltaic Aspects of Metal Decorated CuInS2 and ZnS-CuInS2 Nanostructure Thin Films
  • Ashkan Zeinalzadeh (Dr. Vijay Gupta), Department of Electrical Engineering, Real Time Pricing in the Presence of High Penetration of Solar Energies
Materials Characterization Facility (MCF)
Dr. Ian Lightcap, Research and Facilities Program Director, represented ND Energy and the MCF at the PittCon Conference and Expo in early March. Joined by University colleagues from other facilities on campus, Dr. Lightcap provided a closer look at the state-of-the-art instrumentation available to external users through the MCF. Read More.

Dr. Lightcap is wrapping up the first year of the materials characterization workshops with the final session on Raman spectroscopy. Each workshop has provided a classroom and lab component and focused on different instruments available through the MCF. The workshops received a great response and will likely be continued this coming fall. For a list of the workshops, click here.

Students from Chicago State University, led by their teacher, Assistant Professor Valerie Goss, visited the MCF on March 29. The students gained first-hand experience using the X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer (XPS) to examine energy-related materials as a part of their laboratory training. The XPS is a powerful surface characterization tool, able to quantitatively determine elemental percent composition and identify specific chemical bonds present in materials. The student group was awarded an MCF instrumentation grant, allowing them access to the XPS. Administered by ND Energy, the Instrumentation Grant Program is designed to expand access to MCF instrumentation to educational and research groups that might otherwise not be able to experience or use world-class instrumentation to conduct energy-related research.

In addition, the MCF welcomed over 100 local Penn High School students who recently visited the University to learn about the research at Notre Dame. Students also toured other Core research facilities and were able to see first-hand the importance of having state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation to advance research and development.  
Education and Outreach

Energy Studies Minor
The number of Notre Dame undergraduate students who joined the Energy Studies Minor since fall 2015 is up by 25%. The growing interest in energy among students seems to be partly due to Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si, and the flurry of forums and speakers addressing related issues on campus. Many students also have expressed an appreciation for the minor’s flexibility and breadth, allowing them to choose from a wide array of electives from multiple colleges across campus. Read More.

ND Energy Advances Undergraduate Research in Energy - In spite of the frigid temperature outdoors, students overwhelmed the Sorin Room inside LaFortune the evening of January 25 to attend the 2nd annual Undergraduate Sustainability Research Expo. Hosted by the Campus Coalition on Research and Education for Sustainability (CREST), over 100 students filled the room with excitement and eagerness to learn as they meandered from table to table gathering information about current research and educational opportunities in energy, the environment, and other topics related to sustainability studies. Read More.

ND Energy Goes Downtown - ND Energy could be seen in downtown South Bend providing energy outreach and education to the South Bend community twice this past winter. On February 6, ND Energy and members of its affiliated labs offered a room filled with science demonstrations for hundreds of families during the St. Joseph County Library’s 24th annual Science Alive! event. Read More.

And on March 4, Downtown South Bend invited ND Energy to participate in their Frist Fridays monthly event, themed “Think Green”. The ND Energy team provided energy demonstrations inside the South Bend Chocolate Café, while other activities included street actors, artist talks, music and dancing, and exhibits.

Junior Parents Weekend (JPW) Energy Laboratory Tours JPW is a time to celebrate junior students and in the College of Engineering, ND Energy participated in the celebration by providing laboratory tours on Saturday (February 20) morning in Stinson-Remick Hall. The nano-electronics clean lab, the nuclear energy lab, and the Energy Center labs were on display for students and parents to discuss with faculty members their energy-related research. Several students were so excited about seeing the facilities and learning about the research that they are now members of the research groups.  Read More.

Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair:  Originality Gets the Prize - ND Energy awarded two prizes at the 2016 Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NIRSEF) held at Notre Dame on February 28. The winner of the Junior Division was awarded $50 and the Senior Division winner $100. Read More.

ND Energy Engages the Boys & Girls Club in STEM Activities - The students at the Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County had a special afternoon on March 23 as six groups of students from Notre Dame engaged them in STEM activities for two hours. Read More.

What’s It Really Like? – Energy Research at Notre Dame - While ND Energy’s Student Energy Board (SEB) was brainstorming about what kind of event would be most meaningful for students at Notre Dame, the consensus was that most undergraduate students didn’t know exactly what kind of energy research was being done on campus and what it would be like to work as a researcher. This lead to the creation of What’s It Really Like?—Energy Research at ND. Read More.
Madison Primary Center Visits Notre Dame - April 15th was a beautiful blue day on the Notre Dame campus and the air was full of energy, in more ways than one. As part of an ongoing partnership with Madison Primary Center in downtown South Bend, ND Energy faculty, staff, and students welcomed about 100 third graders to campus for the day to teach them about science and college life in general. Read More.

Mishawaka High School Internship - The Notre Dame/Mishawaka High School (MHS) internship is in full swing. Eight students will finish the internship this semester. In December, the students presented talks that covered various energy sources to a group of teachers and students at MHS to spread energy awareness. In mid-May, the students will give poster presentations to share what they have been working on this academic year in the various energy laboratories.
Click here to see the enthusiasm of these students live, forward to 2:15 of WNDU’s Schools Rule coverage.


Distinguished Lectures and Sponsorships 2015/2016
In support of research and educational initiatives in energy, the following experts visited campus to share their experiences with students and faculty.

February 8, 9, and 10 - Catalytic Reduction of Carbon Dioxide, Inorganic Mixed Valency: Electron Transfer Across Hydrogen Bonds and Through Supramolecular Assemblies, and Artificial Formate Dehygrogenases (FDHs): The Importance of Hydricity in CO2 Reduction and Formate Oxidation, presented by Clifford Kubiak, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Harold C. Urey Chair in Chemistry, University of California at San Diego, sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as part of the Reilly Lecture Series.

April 3 and 4 – Conference entitled: A Global Compact For Sustainable Development, exploring the significance of the encyclical, as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, convened by the Center for Ethics and Religious Values In Business/Mendoza College of Business and the United Nations Global Compact, sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns, Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy), Keough School of Global Affairs, Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index/Environmental Change Initiative, and Notre Dame Sustainability Minor.

April 5 and 6 - Layer-by-Layer Synthesis of Nanoscale Materials for Energy Conversion and Powering the Future with Sustainable Energy: How Do We Get There?, presented by Stacey Bent, Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering, Director of the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy and senior fellow in the Precourt Institute of Energy, Stanford University, sponsored by the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering as part of the Reilly Lecture Series.

April 14 – Chernobyl:  30 Years Later, presented by James E. Alleman – Notre Dame Alumnus, Joel and Judy Cerwick Professor of Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Iowa State University, and Jefferson Science Fellow, USAID Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences.

For a complete list of 2015/2016 lectures, click here.

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Fall 2015
Spring 2015
Fall 2014
Spring 2014

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Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame, All rights reserved.