MIT Energy Initiative Funds Efficient Ideas

Each year, MIT runs the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) which provides funding for early-stage innovative energy projects. This year’s winners have just been announced and, according to MIT’s recent statement,  include projects that deal with energy efficiency, new materials, thermal imaging, rock fracturing, efficient irrigation and integration of renewable energy into the smart grid.

MIT says that more than $2 million was awarded to 14 projects, each lasting up to two years. As was the case in the past, this year’s initiative welcomed proposals on any energy-related topic, but this time the program’s  industry sponsors were particularly interested in projects that focused on end-use efficiency. MIT said that, this year, MITEI received a total of 44 proposals, 17 of which focused on reducing energy use in buildings and industrial processes.

MIT Thermal Image of Boston

image via MIT

MIT reveals that six of the energy efficiency-related proposals wound up getting funded. One of them deals with a new graphene membrane material that shows promise for very efficient gas separation. Researchers reportedly intend to initially focus the technology toward separating methane from hydrogen-an important step in natural gas processing.

Another of the proposed projects that will see funding is a high-resolution thermal imaging system, which we covered earlier this year.  The new imaging system makes more efficient work out of analyzing a building’s efficiency by taking big, sweeping thermal images that reveal a high level of detail where a structure is leaking energy. The system, which uses a Google-Street view approach to collecting images, is non-invasive and would be capable of providing efficiency data on a city-wide scale. This kind of data could help pin-point where efficiency efforts would be best utilized.