Friday, February 13, 2009

MIT & Masdar Institute Partner on Clean Energy

MassHighTech/Lynette F. Cornell/February 13, 2009

Reaching out 6,600 miles, MIT’s Energy Initiave (MITEI) has joined forces with the Masdar Institute to tackle the world’s energy issues and to expand renewable energy research. After two years serving as an adviser to the Masdar Institute, MIT is expanding the relationship to include an increased focus on clean energy research.

The Masdar Institute is located in Masdar City, a pre-planned city in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and often considered the richest city in the world. The city, as well as the school, is designed to leave a near-zero carbon footprint and be a model for sustainable living.

Established in September 2006, MITEI focuses on energy research and education, managing MIT’s campuswide use of energy, and outreach activities to spread awareness of energy-saving actions.

In partnership with MITEI, the Masdar Institute will offer master’s, and eventually, doctorate programs in science and engineering with a focus on sustainability and renewable energy. Classes in five academic programs will begin in September.

Faculty hired by the Masdar Institute spend one year at MIT in Cambridge, participating in research projects alongside MIT faculty and observing graduate-level classes they will later be teaching in Abu Dhabi. The institute said it has set admission standards at levels similar to those of MIT.

The idea is to emulate MIT’s energy research and its teaching methods at the new school, but with the abundant funding resources of the Masdar City.

Students and professors at the institute will focus their research in three primary areas: advancing energy technology, advancing energy systems, and developing policies for governments to implement the new technology.

The 20-plus research projects slated for the upcoming academic year include fuel cells, energy conversion, building systems, and smart grid systems for power distribution.

In addition, faculty members must establish research contracts with local government agencies and industries. Students at the institute will work for those employers in the hopes of securing a permanent job with them when they graduate.

Partnering with MITEI “will allow the Masdar Institute to have access to a large number of MIT’s energy-related programs,” according to Fred Moavenzadeh, the director of the Masdar Institute.

The union also makes the Masdar Institute a member of the MITEI board and gives their administration a say in what seed fund projects are selected for sponsorship. With another sponsor comes increased funding for the 31 projects chosen this year.

“The hope is that this can lead to a whole new set of research projects,” said MITEI director Ernest Moniz.

The school is aiming its research at the world, not just Abu Dhabi. The city of Abu Dhabi, in contrast, has its vision set on one specific place.

“Abu Dhabi is really trying to become a Boston,” said Moavenzadeh. The difference between the two, however, is that Abu Dhabi has the financial resources whereas Boston, with its plethora of research facilities, has the technological resources.

Masdar City itself is working to bring more researchers to the area. City officials are negotiating with European and American companies, including General Electric Co., IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., to establish research institutions.

As part of Gov. Deval Patrick’s push toward green energy, Massachusetts is also seeking a partnership with MIT and the Masdar Institute. “We are currently in discussions with the Masdar Initiative about potential collaboration on a variety of clean energy technologies,” said Ian Bowles, Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary for Massachusetts, in a statement.

See the original article here

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