Pitt Launches Center for Energy to Develop Better Fuel Sources

Issue Date: 
April 14, 2008

The University of Pittsburgh has created a new Center for Energy as part of what Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg referred to as “the increasing need to address the complex energy challenges of our time, which call for more reliable, efficient, and environmentally friendly energy sources.”

The Center for Energy, housed in the Swanson School of Engineering, comprises more than 40 world-class faculty members and their research teams, who will apply deep and diverse expertise across a broad spectrum of energy-related projects as well as education and outreach activities. The center’s five areas of research are energy diversification, renewable energy, clean coal technologies, hydrogen, and environmental solutions.

“Energy will be a defining social issue for the next generation,” said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher. “We want to accelerate our research in order to be positioned to have a significant and positive impact on the environment as well as the economy while further establishing our home region as a leader in energy research.”

Energy research at Pitt already ranges from areas as diverse as harnessing solar energy and creating clean coal technologies to developing synthetic and biomass-derived fuels, gas hydrates, high-temperature coatings, and fuel cells. Participating in the new center are faculty members from the Departments of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Geology and Planetary Science, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.

Pitt’s U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald Holder said the Center for Energy’s mission extends beyond research to include partnering with industry, government, and other universities. “We have already developed an educational program in nuclear engineering,” Holder said. “We expect to develop partnerships in other areas, including power transmission and mining engineering.”

Brian Gleeson, Harry S. Tack Chair in Materials Science and a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, serves as the director of the center; Laura Schaefer, a mechanical engineering and materials science professor, is the assistant director.

The new center also will be linked to the Pitt-Bradford energy initiative, which has the mission to facilitate education and outreach programs in energy, particularly the regional resources of petroleum and renewables.

More information is available at the Center for Energy Web site, www.energy.pitt.edu.