Massachusetts University Receives $4 Million from DOE for Energy Efficiency Research

(Credit: Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

by | Sep 15, 2020

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has received a $4 million award from the Department of Energy and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to support innovative advanced manufacturing research and development with a special focus on energy efficiency in industrial drying.

WPI will act as project lead and expand its “smart drying” work with colleagues at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign to develop energy-saving drying technologies, mainly in the food and forestry product industries.

This research is part of WPI’s work as the lead institution on the Center for Advanced Research in Drying (CARD), a research center focused on industrial drying that also includes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (co-site).

Project lead Jamal Yagoobi, the head of WPI’s mechanical engineering department and director of CARD, said 1.2% of the United States’ total energy is consumed in the drying process.

Yagoobi noted that the largest project task is to develop state-of-the-art test beds to increase product quality of various food and forest products while decreasing the energy required to dry them. The research could have large-scale future impact in the chemical industry as well, Yagoobi says, while also furthering the development of the next generation drying process and workforce.

The DOE has funded several energy efficiency projects and research teams recently. In August, US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette announced the launch of the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) platform at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). According to the DOE, ARIES is a cutting-edge research platform that will allow NREL researchers and the scientific community to address the fundamental challenges of integrated energy systems at scale.

And in 2019, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) announced the DOE awarded $300,000 in funding to a project that would advance the development of a process called Integrated CO2 Capture and Conversion to Methanol (ICCCM). Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) projects are an important component in helping California achieve its climate goal of having a “net zero” economy by 2045.

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