News Release

DOE funds power-plant energy storage, wastewater analysis research projects

Interdisciplinary teams partnering with Lehigh University's Energy Research Center awarded two grants totaling $750,000

Grant and Award Announcement

Lehigh University

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the funding of two projects with Lehigh University’s Energy Research Center (ERC).  

A team comprising the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Lehigh University, Customized Energy Solutions, and Air Products and Chemicals will receive $500,000 in support of a project that seeks to improve operating efficiency and system reliability of power plants in the context of plant connectivity to the electrical grid. A second project—a partnership with the Energy Research Company (ERCo) of New Jersey—has been awarded a $250,000 grant through the DOE Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program to begin developing an instrument to measure in real-time toxic heavy metals in power plant impaired water effluent streams.

The project entitled Techno-Economic and Deployment Analysis of Fossil Fuel-Based Power Generation with Integrated Energy Storage will include a techno-economic analysis of integrated fossil power plant-energy storage options for quantification of projected benefits to operating efficiency and costs, emission reductions, and revenue from participation in the ancillary services market. Four Energy Storage options will be investigated, thermal energy storage, liquid air (cryogenic) energy storage, hydrogen energy storage and battery energy storage in combination with super-capacitors.

Carlos Romero, principal research scientist and director of the ERC will lead the Lehigh team in collaboration with Nenad Sarunac from UNCC.  Romero is a member of Lehigh’s Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy (I-CPIE). Other team members from Lehigh include Shalinee Kishore, Iaccoca Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and associate director of I-CPIE; Alberto J. Lamadrid L., associate professor of economics in Lehigh’s College of Business and I-CPIE member; and Zheng Yao, research scientist at the ERC.

The STTR project, Real Time Monitoring of Selenium Species, Mercury, and Arsenic in Coal-Fired Power Plant Wastewaters, will develop a technology called C4, which will result in an automated, accurate, rapid, and low-cost analyzer of total selenium, selenite, selenate, mercury, and arsenic in wastewater from power plants.

This project fulfills a need brought on by Environmental Protection Agency regulations that will limit the amount of these elements that can be released into lakes and rivers: No practical technology exists to facilitate compliance with these regulations and optimize in real time wastewater treatment processes. The ERCo team will be led by Robert De Saro.  The Lehigh team includes Romero and Yao, as well as Arup SenGupta, P.C. Rossin Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and I-CPIE member.

Active since 1972, Lehigh’s ERC is one of the longest standing centers of its kind in the United States. The ERC became affiliated with I-CPIE in 2018 and plays a key role in advancing several of the the institute’s research thrusts—including the Energy-Water Nexus research thrust, which recognizes the mutual interdependence of water and energy systems and the Energy, Power, and Resources Technologies research thrust, which addresses the ongoing fundamental changes in energy supply and energy systems. 

“These new DOE projects will be impactful for both the ERC and I-CPIE,” says Romero, “supporting research and development activities at the ERC while forwarding I-CPIE’s research thrusts in energy storage and the energy-water nexus.”


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