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DuPont joins Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project

DuPont is GCEP’s newest corporate sponsor, joining ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and Toyota in support of innovative research on sustainable energy technologies.
Steven C. Freilich, director of materials science and engineering for DuPont Central Research and Development, is the newest member of the GCEP management committee. | Photo courtesy of DuPont

DuPont has joined the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford University, an industry partnership that supports innovative research on sustainable energy technologies with low greenhouse gas emissions.

"We are extremely delighted to welcome DuPont as our newest corporate sponsor," said GCEP Director Sally Benson, a research professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford. "DuPont is the ideal partner - a company with a robust research capability and a commitment to global sustainability. Joining GCEP is a true affirmation of the value of university-industry research partnerships."

DuPont joins founding GCEP sponsors ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and Toyota. Together, the companies have invested a total of $113 million in 93 research programs since the project was launched in 2002. The project's key research areas include solar and bio-energy technologies, combustion efficiency, carbon sequestration and the electric grid.

"The work at GCEP is closely aligned with our focus at DuPont on addressing technology-based needs in fields such as solar energy, second-generation biofuels and energy storage," said Steven Freilich, director of materials science and engineering for DuPont Central Research and Development. "We feel the breadth of study and the unique caliber and collaborative nature of GCEP will further enable DuPont science to deliver sustainable solutions today and into the future."

In addition to financial support, the project's corporate sponsors provide technical expertise and real-world advice on how to accelerate the deployment and commercialization of successful inventions.

"At DuPont, we are committed to developing unique solutions to address the challenges posed by global climate change," Freilich said. "Collaboration is key to DuPont's history of innovation. We are excited about adding GCEP to the DuPont Global Collaboratory and look forward to the best scientific minds coming together in GCEP to help us solve the tough energy challenges facing our planet."

Each year, GCEP invites proposals from researchers at Stanford and other institutions to address specific energy challenges, such as new technologies to reduce costs and improve efficiencies of batteries and solar cells. Overall, about 35 percent of GCEP awards have gone to non-Stanford researchers, at 34 institutions in the United States, Australia, China, Japan and Europe.

"Among GCEP's primary goals is to keep the innovation pipeline filled with high-risk, high-impact technologies that could significantly improve energy conversion efficiency and lower cost over the next 50 years," said Schlumberger Vice President Rod Nelson, chair of the GCEP management committee. "DuPont's team of outstanding scientists and engineers will provide valuable insights on promising research opportunities that could transform the global energy system. We welcome them to the team and look forward to their contributions."

Game-changing inventions

Since 2002, GCEP researchers have filed more than 30 patent applications for potentially game-changing inventions, including a technique to wirelessly charge electric vehicles as they drive over magnetic coils embedded in the road, and a novel process for generating hydrogen from simple sugars with high productivity and conversion yields.

Under the project agreement, Stanford and collaborating institutions hold legal title to all technology, patents and information derived from GCEP-funded research. Corporate sponsors receive a royalty-free license to the patents. Participating universities and sponsors can license the technology to other entities.

The project's funding has helped jumpstart several multimillion-dollar research collaborations, including the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis and the Bay Area Photovoltaics Consortium, which are primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

GCEP researchers have published more than 400 papers in peer-reviewed journals and given more than 600 scientific presentations. More than 500 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars around the world have received GCEP support, and many have gone on to take jobs in the energy field. At Stanford, GCEP also provides funding for workshops, an annual research symposium, a summer energy institute for graduate students and a distinguished lecture series.

"In an era of government belt-tightening, it's really encouraging to see private industry increase its support for fundamental energy research," Benson said. "GCEP sponsors have chosen to support research in a university because it brings fresh ideas, independent viewpoints and a new generation of researchers. The challenges we face will require bold new technologies. The future of the world depends on it, and these companies are helping shape the future."