Notre Dame creates Sustainable Energy Center

by Nina Welding

Center for Sustainable Energy

The newly established Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (cSEND) advances the missions of the Notre Dame Energy Center (NDEC) and Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI), which have been to enhance energy related research at the University and increase energy awareness and education through outreach and educational initiatives.

The new center will also serve as the primary campus hub through which to obtain information or seek advice on energy related topics and issues. The collaborations developed through cSEND with other departments, centers and institutes will create a “one-stop shop” not only for the campus community but also for local, regional, national and international constituents in matters related to energy.

cSEND will work to build upon efforts already under way to reach University students and the South Bend community with energy related information and activities. In September 2011, the center will sponsor Notre Dame’s 5th Annual Energy Week, featuring lectures, movies and activities related to sustainable energy, which are open to the public. The center also is sponsoring the newly created energy studies minor, open to all University students. The minor examines technical, business and sociological aspects of energy production and use. Beginning June 2012, the center will assist local science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers to broaden their knowledge by providing research and curriculum development opportunities.

According to Joan F. Brennecke, the Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular engineering and director of the NDEC, “merging these two organizations into one University research center is a true testament of the unprecedented efforts of our faculty and students and the more than $19 million in energy related research grants that have been awarded in this past year alone.”

Brennecke will serve as the director of cSEND, while Kenneth Henderson, professor and department chair of chemistry and biochemistry, will serve as associate director. Patrick Murphy, currently the managing director of NDEC, will serve as managing director for the new center.

Established in 2005, the NDEC has focused on five key areas in which to develop new technologies to meet the global energy challenge: energy efficiency; safe nuclear waste storage; clean coal utilization; carbon dioxide separation, storage, sequestration and use; and solar and other renewable resources. In addition, the center has committed itself to playing key roles in energy education and literacy, the development of energy policy and the exploration of the ethical implications associated with energy.

One of the Strategic Research Investments of the University, the SEI has focused on the research and development of materials to help make clean energy more affordable and more readily available. In 2010 the SEI received an award of $10 million to establish Notre Dame’s preeminence in three strategic areas — safer nuclear, cleaner fossil and transformative solar technologies. The SEI has also focused its research on new and improved sustainable energy technologies and systems that will provide educational opportunities for scientists, engineers, social scientists and citizens to be leaders in their disciplines and literate in the systems of energy production and use.

For more information about energy related research and education, visit http://energy.nd.ed.