Seed Grant Program

Seed grants are awarded with funding provided by the Binghamton University Road Map through the Provost's Office and the Division of Research.

The goal of these seed grants is to encourage faculty to develop collaborative projects that stimulate the advancement of new ideas that can build Binghamton University's expertise toward a national reputation in the broad area of smart energy. This competitive, peer-reviewed program is providing initial support for proposed long-term programs of collaborative research that have strong potential to attract external funding.

For the 2020–2021 academic year, the following seed grants were awarded:

Machine-Learning-Driven Battery Energy Storage Operations Control

Soongeol Kwon, systems science and industrial engineering, and Ziang Zhang, electrical and computer engineering

Along with the modernization of power grids and the expansion of renewable energy, battery storage is expected to play a key role for the efficient and sustainable operations of electric power systems. In particular, battery storage has been regarded as a promising solution to stabilize the intermittent renewable energy generation and fluctuated electricity demand load. Hence, there is an urgent need for introducing a systematic approach designed to find proper controls for the better use of battery storage. Meanwhile, machine learning has been recently revitalized and actively studied coupled with increasing interests and popularity of artificial intelligence; and there have been considerable studies on the application of machine learning to a wide range of domains with noticeable outcomes. Given this context, the main objective of this research proposal is to develop a machine-learning-driven optimal control policy uniquely designed to control battery storage operations. In particular, the PIs intend to leverage the capability of recurrent neural networks to find underlying patterns existing in optimal battery storage operations to predict a sequence of charging and discharging controls. The outcome will, in turn, be a strong preliminary study used to validate the idea of the proposed approach for seeking external funding.

Guided Tour through the Operation of a Li-Ion Battery

Louis Piper, materials science and engineering, and Gökhan Ersan, art and design

We propose to develop a novel education module that links hands-on experimental training on cutting-edge battery research to graphical design and Virtual Reality (VR) learning to showcase Binghamton University’s achievements in the rechargeable battery field. Dr. Piper will develop the hands-on component using rhenium oxide as an easily accessible model system that was only recently demonstrated to be viable for rechargeable lithium batteries in 2018. In tandem with the hands-on component, Dr. Ersan will develop graphic elements that will be incorporated into a guided tour through an operating battery in a virtual reality framework. We propose to work towards implementing the module into the Freshman Research Immersion: Smart Energy stream by Spring, 2021 as an initial test of this innovative educational approach. In addition, the graphical design elements and VR framework developed by Drs. Piper and Ersan will be incorporated into published research and press releases as well as highlights for Binghamton University’s Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) program.