The Rutgers Energy Institute is engaged in four principal areas of activity: education of undergraduate and graduate students; pioneering research; outreach to the community to share information and engage the public; and policy advice to government, business, and civic leaders who require current knowledge about energy use, alternatives, and innovations to guide decision-making and public planning.
Each of these four areas is critical to the overall mission of the institute: to foster both fundamental and applied scientific research and policy research to develop sustainable energy production compatible with economic growth and environmental vitality.
Five Year Strategic Plan for Rutgers Energy Institute
Access to affordable clean energy is indispensable to the economic vitality of the nation, the health of its inhabitants, and the biodiversity of the planet. Its pervasive influence on all aspects of human activity, determines the range of opportunities in which citizens can participate, from local to global. The paths forward towards decarbonizing our energy sources require participation from scientists, engineers, economists, policy researchers, businesses, as well as an informed public.
Over the past decade, the Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) has provided a forum for discussion of issues and seed money for faculty, students and professional staff (from facilities, transportation, and procurement) to collaboratively work together to foster new research and educational experiences. The result has been a phenomenal growth of the University’s research portfolio on energy writ large. However, the value of the REI is not simply monetary – it has developed an interactive forum across the schools that has enabled new collaborations to blossom, and both new energy policy frameworks and technological advances to be achieved. The REI has been instrumental in developing new courses and providing information about energy-related curricula for undergraduate and graduate students. Through seminars, symposia and virtual media, the REI also helps the broader community to understand the complexities of transforming our nation’s energy generation in coming decades.
Clean Energy - The grand challenge of the 21st century
The REI was designed to meet this challenge through innovative basic and applied research, education, outreach and advice to policy makers.
The REI has five core, interlinked themes, cutting across school boundaries. These themes do not represent the breadth of the expertise of REI faculty; rather, they are areas of crosscutting strengths and opportunities that are fertile ground for collaborations and are critical to decarbonizing energy supplies in the coming decades.
These themes are:
2. Nanomaterials, Photovoltaics, and Storage
3. Bioenergy and Bioproducts
4. Carbon-Negative Technologies
5. Energy Economics, Environment, and Policy Systems
The five themes represent current strengths and are topics in which REI has invested, and will continue to invest resources with reasonable expectation of fostering successful external funding.
The REI Five Year Strategic Plan 2017-2022 document outlines a vision for the Institute that will help build upon our existing strengths and promote Rutgers’ faculty to becoming global leaders in these areas.
Rachael Shwom named New Associate Director of the REI
We are pleased to announce the appointment of associate professor Rachael Shwom as an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute (REI). Professor Shwom will be taking the place of Professor Robert Kopp, who will be assuming a new position as director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS) at Rutgers. Both Rachael and Bob will begin in their new roles July 1.
As associate professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Science’s Department of Human Ecology, Rachael conducts research that links sociology, psychology, engineering, economics, and public policy to investigate how social and political factors influence society’s responses to energy and climate problems. Since arriving at Rutgers eight years ago, Professor Shwom has actively participated in the REI and has served as a key member of its Energy Economics, Environment, and Policy Systems strategic planning committee. Rachael has also served on the Rutgers Climate Institute’s advisory committee and is currently a Co-PI on a multi-university, $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant on “Reducing Household Food, Energy and Water Consumption: A Quantitative Analysis of Interventions and Impacts of Conservation.” Since 2003, she has served on the American Statistical Association’s Advisory Committee to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. She served on the American Sociological Association (ASA)’s Task Force on Climate Change from 2011-2015 and of the Research and Publications Committee of ASA’s Environment, Technology and Society Section from 2015-2016. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Rachael was a Christine Mirzayan Science Technology and Policy Fellow at the National Academies of Sciences and a Michigan State University Environmental Science and Policy Fellowship recipient (Ph.D., Sociology 2009). From 2001-2004, Rachael worked in the utility demand side management sector.
We also want to acknowledge the dedicated efforts of the outgoing associate director, Professor Robert Kopp. A professor in the School of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Bob has served as an associate director of REI since arriving at Rutgers in 2011 and has played a crucial role in shepherding and developing the institute over the last six years. The REI is extremely grateful for Bob’s tireless commitment to understanding and solving our energy and climate challenges and educating the next generation. Our members and larger Rutgers community wish Bob the best and look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role as director of EOAS.
2017 REI Energy Contest Winners
The Rutgers Energy Institute annually challenges Rutgers undergraduates to develop implementable plans for reducing energy consumption on campus. The three winning entries were awarded prizes at the 2017 REI Annual Symposium on May 3rd
(Left to Right: Timothy Lee, Tara Viray, Syed Hyder, Mackenzie George)
1st Place for $2,500: Power Stripping and Reducing Rutgers’ Energy Consumption
Syed Hyder and Tara Viray
Hyder Major: Mechanical Engineering Minor: Economics
Viray Major: Public Health Minor: Biochemistry
Abstract: Our team plans to implement smart power strips into all the on-campus residence halls before the start of the upcoming 2017-2018 academic year. These smart power strips prevent standby power consumption - which is the electricity a device consumes when it is “off”, but still plugged in. At approximately $10 per power strip, they can save around 5,000,000 kilowatt-hours and $540,000 per year. These power strips will change how the average student consumes electricity, and is a simple yet efficient way to save energy, money, and the environment.
2nd Place for $1,500: Trash to Cash
Major: Environmental Policy Institutions and Behavior
Abstract: The proposal is a game that would incentivize recycling in on-campus dorms and apartments. The proposed game involves the use of an app on students’ phones that would keep track of the amount they recycle, and would compare their stats to other students in their same building. At the end of every two-week period, top leaders would receive a monetary prize, and the game would reset at the beginning of the next two-week period. The goal of the game is to increase the amount recycled per student at the university, which would increase energy savings as a result. When recyclables are used to create products, the amount of energy necessary is significantly less as compared to using raw resources. Other benefits of the implementation of this game include an improved public image in terms of Rutgers’ environmental awareness as well as decreased pollution and green house gas emissions. Overall, the game helps work towards Rutgers’ goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 in a way that makes recycling more fun and appealing to students living on-campus.
3rd Place for $1,000: Go Electric - Analysis of an All-Electric Transportation Fleet at Rutgers University
Abstract: Using a systematic approach to modeling the current bus transportation system, a streamlined and more efficient bus transportation network is proposed to decrease the size of the Rutgers transportation fleet from ~50 biodiesel buses to ~40 electric buses. The environmental and financial impact of the transition from biodiesel buses to electric buses is also analyzed and presented in this proposal. Over a 12-year period, switching from the current biodiesel fleet to an all-electric bus fleet can prevent 23,640 metric tons of CO2 gas emissions and save $12.4 million.