New NREL and Georgia Tech Collaborative Appointment Program Launched

Partnership Will Advance Energy Technologies and Cultivate a New Pipeline of Future Scientists

April 16, 2019

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Georgia Institute of Technology today announced a new joint appointment program as part of an effort to enhance research collaboration between the lab and universities, foster the exchange of ideas, and promote the advancement of science and future collaborations.

The agreement, which was announced by NREL Director Martin Keller at a Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute event, establishes an official avenue for the exchange of Georgia Tech faculty and NREL employees across both institutions. Samuel Graham, the Eugene C. Gwaltney, Jr. school chair of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering, will be the first appointee under this new program.

Martin Keller, NREL laboratory director, and Tim Lieuwen, executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech, meet at Georgia Tech.

NREL Laboratory Director Martin Keller spoke at Georgia Tech on April 16, 2019 and met with Tim Lieuwen, executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech, to celebrate the new joint appointment program. (Photo: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

The purpose of the program is to attract rising stars in scientific and engineering fields and to enhance the quality of the science, technology, education, and industrial development in the regions surrounding Georgia Tech and NREL. This mutually beneficial relationship will combine the expertise and leadership of both the university and the lab in the pursuit of innovative research and help prepare the next generation of future scientists through scholarly excellence.

"Under this joint agreement, NREL and Georgia Tech open up an avenue for significant research collaboration to explore opportunities for advanced energy technologies in a wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy applications," said Johney Green, associate lab director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences at NREL. "NREL researchers are excited to continue collaborating with Graham and his team and benefiting from the expertise of a prestigious educational institution like Georgia Tech."

The formal collaboration between Georgia Tech and NREL will initially focus on the fundamental research and development of advanced wide bandgap (WBG) technologies used in electrical power transfer applications—such as vehicle drive systems, building technologies, and solar inverters. This unique arrangement will allow NREL to leverage the extensive expertise that Georgia Tech has in thermal energy sciences. Working with Graham, NREL's vehicle electrification and advanced manufacturing research programs aim to advance WBG materials science and develop low-thermal-resistance power electronics packaging. The goal is to make devices and components smaller, more efficient, and higher-performing compared to present-day silicon-based component packaging.

"Given the breadth and depth of Georgia Tech and NREL's expertise in renewable energy, this partnership is very exciting," said Tim Lieuwen, executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech. "This agreement will facilitate the continued growth of our relationship and existing partnerships."

The NREL Buildings Program will also benefit from this exchange as the lab works to strengthen its research capabilities with emphasis on optimized energy use, generation, and storage in the built environment at multiple scales. Georgia Tech's Heat Transfer, Combustion, and Energy Systems Research Group is one of the largest thermal and energy science groups in the country, with a focus on cutting-edge basic and applied research that ranges from nanoengineered materials to large thermal energy systems.

"We're excited for how this agreement significantly expands our research capabilities," said NREL Buildings Laboratory Program Manager Roderick Jackson. "Georgia Tech has a reputation for being leaders in this research space, which we can now leverage as we transform energy through building science."

Learn more about NREL's research organization partners and how to work with them.

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