Mines/NREL Nexus Seed Grants for Proposal Development

Mines and NREL formally launched the NEXUS partnership in July 2019 to strengthen and expand collaboration between our two institutions.  The goal is to develop joint research initiatives and funding beyond the scope of either institution alone. 

Nexus Seed Funding Grants are a new and innovative way to support Mines and NREL researchers in jump-starting ideation on cutting edge collaborative, interdisciplinary research proposals and eventual funding of new joint projects..  The Mines/NREL Nexus partnership launched two seed funding rounds in the Summer 2020 to support collaborative Mines/NREL proposal development. The seed funding is intended to support the efforts of the Mines and NREL PIs, with awards ranging from $10-15,000 each.

The first round of seed funding in May 2020 funded five proposals across a range of research disciplines. For more information about these projects, read the press release below. The second round of seed funding proposals are due June 1st 2020.  . Application details for Mines/NREL Nexus Seed Funding Grants can be found in the attached document and questions should be directed to Shannon Parry sparry@mines.edu.

The first round of seed grants were awarded May 2020. There were many strong proposals in the first round and the panel recommended funding for the top 5. Congratulations go to the following five teams:

Information on each seed proposal is below; please click on the title above.

Green Manufacturing of Metal Sulfides and Derived Products

Colin Wolden, Mines and Samantha Reese, NREL

The Nexus seed grant will allow us to couple disciplinary expertise from Mines with the unique capabilities of the Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center at NREL, enabling us to respond to proposal opportunities that require both technical innovation and a sophisticated understanding of the techno-economic benefits. In particular, we plan to target advanced manufacturing solicitations from DOE and NSF related to metal sulfide production for use in next generation batteries, optoelectronics, and catalysts.


Green Manufacturing image

Modeling Framework for Optimizing Next Generation Building Envelopes for Grid

Paulo Cesar Tabares-Velasco, Mines and Marcus Bianchi, NREL

The seed funding will allow Mines and NREL engineers to write an NSF proposal on future dynamic materials that will ultimately change the way buildings interact with the grid. It will combine materials and building science with optimization techniques that will guide new development of building materials and systems that will ultimately allow the building envelope to store and release thermal energy when needed, reducing the need for heating and cooling systems.  This will allow NREL/Mines engineers to combine efforts on this NSF proposal and develop the idea together as well as find ways to more effectively communicate potential savings and identify potential projects between NREL and Mines on this field.

Simplified and Inexpensive Integration of Concentrated-Solar Power for Desalination of Concentrated Brines

Tzahi Cath, Mines and Ariel Miara, NREL

Desalination of impaired water is energy intensive compared to treatment of fresh water; therefore, coupling renewable energy, and especially solar energy, with desalination is logical and desirable. Current conveyance of heat from solar collectors to desalination processes is complex and material- and cost-intensive. Our project focuses on developing simple, inexpensive, and thermally efficient methods to convey heat to thermal membrane desalination processes for treatment of highly concentrated brines.

For the last few years Mines and NREL have been collaborating on integration of renewable energy (solar, wind, ocean waves) with desalination processes. With the establishment of the new DOE-funded Desalination Hub (NAWI), in which both NREL and Mines are members, the Nexus award will assist with developing new avenues for collaborations supported by other funding agencies.

We will use the seed funding to help support graduate and undergraduate students in developing research in response to several calls for proposals (BOR, DOE, DOD). Students will develop critical writing and research skills.

Spin-based Electronics with Chiral 2-Dimensional Tin Iodide Perovskites

Meenakshi Singh, Mines and Matt Beard, NREL

Our project combines the strength of NREL in materials growth and characterization with the growing focus on quantum devices at Mines. The complementary strengths of our teams provide opportunities for growth in unexplored areas, both fundamental and applied.

Development of Characterization Methods to Understand and Mitigate Performance Degradation in Czochralski Silicon

Sumit Agarwal, Mines and Pauls Stradins, NREL

As the cost of manufacturing silicon solar panels plummets and their efficiency rises, the field reliability of the panels becomes an increasingly important focus of research. This project proposal will bring together expertise at Mines and NREL in advanced characterization of silicon to understand the performance degradation mechanisms at the atomistic level. Our partnership will essentially introduce new characterization methods to understand performance degradation in silicon solar cells, and help develop mitigation strategies.”

Projects of this scale require a lot of planning in terms of putting together the best team, analyzing preliminary data, and writing the final high-quality document. With the Nexus seed funding we will be able to provide the necessary support to the faculty and staff scientists to put together a strong competitive proposal.