Collaboratory institutions celebrate first anniversary of renewable energy research team

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Collaboratory institutions celebrate first anniversary of renewable energy research team

DENVER, CO – On February 21, 2007, the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory was launched, with the public signing of an agreement between the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), Colorado State University (CSU), the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), and Midwest Research Institute, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The four Colorado based institutions committed to join forces to perform world class research, to develop new energy technologies, and to transfer these advances as rapidly as possible to the private sector. 

One year later, the Collaboratory has exceeded all expectations by attracting some of the world’s largest private corporations as sponsors for its research centers. By combining the four institutions’ strong research teams and cutting edge laboratories, the Collaboratory offers renewable energy research capabilities unmatched in the world. The Collaboratory’s research centers also benefit from the participation of private sponsors. These sponsors provide financial support and critical market insight to help guide research in directions with near-term commercial potential. In return, the sponsors gain immediate knowledge of new discoveries and the opportunity to meet and recruit some of the best science and engineering graduate students in the nation. 

“The Collaboratory’s rapid growth is due to three factors,” according to David Hiller, the Collaboratory’s Executive Director: “First, the unbelievable research talent and leadership at the four institutions; second, the strong support of Governor Ritter, Colorado’s legislators, and our congressional delegation; and third, a unique structure that allows our private sponsors to work with four world class institutions through a single administrative point of contact.”

The Collaboratory’s first research center, the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, known as C2B2, opened its doors on July 1, 2007. Today, C2B2 has 27 private partners, including giants from the agriculture, oil and gas, chemical, automotive and manufacturing sectors such as Archer Daniels Midland Company, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical, DuPont, General Motors, Shell Global Solutions, Suncor Energy, Weyerhaeuser and W.R. Grace, as well as more than a dozen Colorado renewable energy companies. 

“We’re not surprised by the success of C2B2, but we’re very pleased,” said Alan Weimer, Professor of Chemical Engineering at CU-Boulder and Director of C2B2. “We worked hard to create the perfect blend of public research talent with private industry experience.” The Collaboratory institutions are now conducting 10 research projects that were selected as most promising by C2B2’s private partners out of 65 proposals from the researchers at the four Collaboratory institutions.

Building on the success of C2B2, the Collaboratory is now putting the finishing touches on the Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion. This solar energy research center will focus on fundamentally new science and technologies for solar photovoltaics and for direct conversion of solar radiation into clean energy sources through photoelectrochemical and photobiological processes. “In the long run, solar power will provide the majority of clean, sustainable energy for the planet,” noted Arthur Nozik, Senior Research Fellow at NREL and Scientific Director for CRSP. “The CRSP center will be creating new materials and processes to lay the foundation for tomorrow’s solar energy technologies.”    

By the end of 2008, the Collaboratory also expects to announce:

  • an additional solar energy research center directed toward near-term technologies and improvements in existing technologies for photovoltaics and concentrating solar power;
  • a wind energy research center, including modeling, design and testing of turbine blades and towers, micro-climate forecasting, and electrical and control systems;
  • a carbon management center, including research on carbon capture technologies, carbon sequestration technologies and policy analysis; and
  • an energy efficiency and management research center. 

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