PIRE: Materials for Renewable Energy NaturE's Way (RENEW)
Global energy sustainability is heavily reliant on materials. Today, many used in our clean energy technologies are derived from unsustainable sources, with some potentially depleted in decades or less. PIRE: RENEW will use biological-based materials to create sustainable replacements and improve material performance in high value-added, high performance applications for clean energy technologies. Example applications to be examined include solar and wind power. As this is a global challenge, an international research program, led by Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and the Polytechnic Institute of New York (NYU-POLY), will be built around this focus. Critical partnerships - based on existing relationships and past work - will be integrated to create the appropriate response team, including universities in the U.S. (University of Pennsylvania, Rochester Institute of Technology) and abroad (in the U.K., Brazil, Belgium, and Italy). The resulting international research nexus will allow the ongoing creation of solutions for a broad range of advanced sustainable material challenges (including potentially beyond energy). Over five years, the program will draw together the interdisciplinary expertise to investigate replacements to improve function, provide a renewable source of materials, and mitigate environmental impact in production and disposal.
PIRE will provide a novel integration of research and education for a cohort of graduate students. Across five countries, their experiences will provide them the means to see international collaboration as a natural extension of educational interactions and extended research exchanges. By intertwining work in different research tracks and parts of the globe, PIRE: RENEW will provide students with exposure to not only different subject areas, but also to different cultures and their approaches to sustainability. Students will be trained, at home and by going abroad, in an interdisciplinary and global approach to sustainability problem solving. Drawing from their research in wind and solar energy, they will receive a broad view of sustainability issues in life cycle and economics. A common seminar and collaborative capstone experience in these issues will be a vehicle to examine them from different disciplines, technologies, cultures, and countries. These experiences will uniquely train this cohort as a team in tomorrow's sustainable materials and energy.
The major research goals of the project are to explore the use of biological-based materials to create sustainable replacements and improve material performance in high value-added, high performance applications for clean energy technologies. The particular applications to be examined are solar and wind power.