The research priorities of the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology are built upon the recognition that a deliberate transition from the current energy status to a sustainable future will require a period where many energy sources are necessary. Any change from the status quo requires a balance between the short term and long term economic and environmental needs of our society. The world’s need for readily available energy in many locations and forms will continue to grow. Thus, rather than focusing on one solution to the energy problem, the Institute seeks to integrate basic research with goals toward multiple solutions.
To ensure that the Institute meets its mission to create synergism, new research directions, and productive solutions in energy science and technology, the Institute faculty identified several specific priority research areas to target in our first years. Areas that were viewed as both promising in terms of potential impact and ones in which the broad expertise at Penn could be combined in synergistic collaborations were acknowledged as the best early targets for the Institute.
The research priorities of the Institute are envisioned to be agile, and will continue to evolve through the consistent exchange and cross-fertilization of ideas that the Institute seeks to foster. The current research priorities include basic research solutions that will allow:
- The ability to store energy as needed
- Low-energy methods for reduction of small molecules (N2, O2, CO2) to useful chemicals and fuels
- Efficient light-driven chemistry, materials and devices
- A sustainable food-energy-water system
- Optimal use of natural gas
- Renewable utilization of non-food biomass