Since 1983, the Link Foundation has awarded Energy Fellowships to outstanding doctoral students who have the potential to change our world for the betterment of humankind. It is the Link Foundation’s hope that the receipt of a Link Foundation Energy Fellowship award will empower outstanding scholars by giving them the freedom and the resources to explore their genius during their Fellowship tenure, and to solve critical issues in energy resource development and conservation.
Please visit http://www.linkenergy.org/fellows/ were you will see a listing of some of our past Energy Fellowship awardees, along with their final research reports.
Name: Véronique Archanbault-Léger
Department: Thayer School of Engineering
School: Dartmouth College
Project: Countercurrent Flowthrough Pretreatment of Cellulosic Biomass
Research Advisor: Lee R. Lynd
Transportation is a key energy use sector which will likely need liquid fuels for a long time if not indefinitely. Cellulosic biomass is the most promising sustainable source of liquid fuels for very large scale energy production. The main obstacle to achieve commercial, cost competitive biological conversion of lignocellulose to fuel is biomass recalcitrance, referring to the incomplete accessibility of attack by microbes and their enzymes. There are a wide variety of processes, termed pretreatment, preparing the biomass to overcome biomass recalcitrance. They decisively improve lignocelluloses digestibility but account for a substantial fraction of the cost of overall conversion.
The conundrum of conventional pretreatment is that conditions severe enough to yield reactive fiber are accompanied by sugar degradation. Flowthrough compressed hot water pretreatment has clear potential to produce highly reactive solids while minimizing sugar degradation. However, flowthrough is challenging to implement because of the mechanical complexities of arranging a bed of biomass in a flowthrough configuration. As a Link Energy Foundation fellow, I aim to carefully analyze the fluid dynamics and kinetics of fluid flow through biomass to propose a feasible configuration that will realize the advantages of flowthrough pretreatment at scale while avoiding unacceptably high energy requirements, capital costs and sugar dilution.
Name: Ranjit Amod Deshmukh
Department: Energy and Resources Group
School: University of California, Berkeley
Project: High-Resolution, Stochastic Electricity System Models are Key to Driving Low Carbon Policies in India
Research Advisor: Dr. Daniel Kammen
My research addresses critical debates about the nature and viability of clean energy development and energy access in developing countries, but specifically in the context of India’s rapidly growing electricity sector. With over 250 million people without access to electricity, an electricity generation sector dominated by pollution-intensive coal, electricity shortages up to ten percent of present demand, and a future demand that is projected to quadruple in the next 20 years, India epitomizes the energy-climate challenges faced by many developing countries. Energy efficiency and renewable energy generation is an imperative for India, not just to mitigate global climate change, but also to ensure energy security, provide electricity access and prevent local environmental pollution. Through my research, I am developing future high-penetration renewables integration scenarios using high spatial and temporal resolution, stochastic electricity system models to analyze different strategies for the effective development and integration of large-scale wind and solar generation into the Indian power system. By understanding the technical and economic constraints of the nature of electricity related institutions and policies as they exist today in India, but also applying international best practices and lessons learned as the realm of institutional and policy design possibilities, I aim to provide key insights to policymakers through the use of renewable energy integration models and policy analysis that would realistically inform the debates of clean energy and energy access.
Name: Letian Dou
Department: Materials Science and Engineering
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Project: Design and Synthesis of Low-bandgap Polymers for Organic Photovoltaic Applications
Research Advisor: Prof. Yang Yang
Solar energy is one of the most promising renewable energy resources. Organic photovoltaic devices provide an approach to utilize it cost-effectively. The active materials, semi-conducting conjugated polymers, play an essential role on determining the efficiency of such devices. My research at UCLA focuses on design and synthesis of novel low-bandgap polymers as the active material for a variety of photovoltaic applications, including tandem polymer solar cells and visibly-transparent polymer solar cells. The tandem cell, which consisting of two sub-cells stacked together, can use the solar irradiation more efficiently. Our low-bandgap materials are able to absorb photons in the Near-IR region and convert them into electricity very efficiently. By using the materials I synthesized, record high power conversion efficiencies of ~10% have been achieved recently by our group. Such kind of material can also be used in the visibly-transparent polymer solar cells, which can transmit the visible light and selectively convert the Near-IR light into electricity. We have demonstrated devices with 4 – 5 % efficiency and over 60% transmittance in the visible region. This kind of device is promising for power-generating window application. During this project, I will continue to improve the low-bandgap polymers for photovoltaic application, and also synthesize new semi-conducting polymers for organic field effect transistors and photo-detector applications. Our research represents an important step forwards in the commercialization of polymer solar cells, which is a very promising way to use the solar energy to solve the energy crisis problem.