The production of electricity from intermittent renewable sources, such as solar, is cost-competitive with fossil-fuel-generated electricity, and alternatively powered transportation (e.g., biomass-derived fuels, electricity and hydrogen) are rapidly gaining acceptance. Materials research for catalytic production and storage of energy is essential for increased market penetration of renewable energy sources. This cluster is designed to transform UCF into a nationally and internationally recognized leader in energy-related research, specifically in the discovery and application of materials for catalysis. The cluster objectives align quite closely with the strategic priorities of the departments, colleges, centers and the university. Energy research is critical in slowing growth in carbon emissions without slowing economic growth. Within the past few years, increases in carbon emissions are now less than the rate of economic growth, due in large part to new renewable energy sources coming online.
UCF Colleges and Centers Involved in Energy Conversion and Propulsion
- College of Engineering and Computer Science
- College of Sciences
- Florida Solar Energy Center
- NanoScience Technology Center
Learn More About Energy Conversion and Propulsion:
- Enhance interactions among cluster members already at UCF
- Develop stronger ties between computer science, chemistry and physics at UCF to pursue opportunities in computational materials in response to the U.S. federal government’s Materials Genome Initiative
- Identify five new faculty in key areas that form strong links between more fundamental and applied areas of energy and propulsion research
- Create a new seminar series on energy research, which will lead to the formation of a “virtual institute” to help link the Florida Solar Energy Center with UCF’s main campus and more broadly connect energy-related research across the university
- Achieve international prominence in energy and propulsion research
- Enhance partnerships with industry (locally and nationally)
- Develop academic programs that encourage interdisciplinary education based on a common focus on data and computational approaches linked to energy applications
- Train the next generation of leaders in energy and propulsion science and technology
- Compete successfully for large research grants at a national level, including DOE, NSF and DoD as potential funding sources
More details about the cluster can be found in the Energy Conversion and Propulsion Cluster Proposal.
Why Join the Energy Conversion and Propulsion Cluster?
UCF and Florida already have large investments in energy and propulsion technologies (Siemens, Mitsubishi, Lockheed Martin, GE/Alstom, Pratt & Whitney, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Space-X and ATK), and more recently with the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center – with an initial investment of $70 million – which partners with UCF and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. These local investments will benefit from closer connections to ongoing research at UCF, enabled by existing links to UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center and Center for Advanced Turbines and Energy Research.
History of High Impact
UCF has a history of implementing high-impact, entrepreneurially focused curricula. Most recently, the university worked closely with the DoE on implementing two cleantech-focused efforts – an annual cleantech accelerator, which was designed to identify and support promising cleantech technologies throughout the Southeast, and the Florida Cleantech Acceleration Network, which created a statewide support network and “proof of concept” center for cleantech entrepreneurs. These programs served more than 200 ventures that went on to raise more than $5 million in follow-on funding on their paths to commercialization.
Increased awareness of the potential societal and economic impacts of climate change are driving clean energy research, and UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center is playing an important role in this effort. National investments are starting to yield important advances, and clean energy is becoming economically competitive. In fact, utility solar and rooftop solar power are actually cheaper than electricity-generated fossil fuels. For example, the U.S. currently has about 20 GW of installed solar capacity, with another 20 GW anticipated to come online in 2015-16. However, there are still critical obstacles that require investment, especially in areas related to energy conversion and storage – all of which this cluster will help address.
We’re Looking for the Best.
Energy Conversion and Propulsion Cluster Faculty
The following faculty are involved in developing and guiding the cluster and its efforts.
- Patrick Schelling, Associate Professor
- Talat Rahman, Pegasus Professor
- Abdelkader Kara, Associate Professor
- William Kaden, Assistant Professor
- Sergey Stolbov, Associate Professor
- Xiaofeng Feng, Assistant Professor
- Mihai Vaida, Assistant Professor
- James Fenton, Professor and Director
- Parag Banerjee, Associate Professor
The Faculty Cluster Initiative is hiring in nine interdisciplinary areas to advance UCF’s areas of excellence and global impact. We’re looking for leaders to help shape collaborative research and teaching across the university.