Boris Tsang/Sun File Photo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a press conference outside Cinemapolis on March 22, 2021. Schumer announced the ARPA-E grants on Feb. 16.

February 16, 2022

Cornell Research Project and Start-Up Receives Millions in Funding from Federal Grants

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Two University researchers and one Cornell start-up have been selected to receive over $7 million in funding from the United States Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

On Feb. 16, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced the ARPA-E grants, which aim to fund projects that advance clean energy technologies. 68 projects were selected for funding across 22 states to take part in the ARPA-E Open 2021 program.

Prof. Khurram Afridi, electrical and computer engineering, leads the Field-Focused Load-Leveled Dynamic Wireless Charging System for Electric Vehicles project, which works to create a wireless charging system for electric vehicles. This project could drastically reduce the need for car batteries and advance the market for electric vehicles worldwide. Afridi’s project will receive $1.425 million from the ARPA-E grant.

Prof. Greeshma Gadikota, civil and environmental engineering, leads a research project aiming to advance a low-carbon environment with inherent utilization of waste concrete and carbon dioxide through integrated electrochemical, chemical and biological routes. Gadikota’s project will receive $2.5 million.

“The technology … would replace thermally intensive processes for producing construction materials with integrated electrochemical and chemical approaches that utilize carbon dioxide emissions and construction and demolition materials,” stated a University press release on Gadikota’s project.

The final University project funded by the federal grants is a startup created by Jason Salfi ’92, Prof. David Erickson, mechanical engineering and Prof. Tobias Hanrath, chemical and biomolecular engineering. Their project will use additive manufacturing systems to 3-D print ceramic components for innovative chemical reactors that can run on low-carbon electricity sources. 

Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, expressed gratitude for the project funding, saying that the projects demonstrate the innovation the University applies to the global challenge of energy sourcing.

“We are grateful to Senator Schumer for his commitment to scientific research and his steadfast support of ARPA-E, which accelerates the technological advances necessary to address our world’s most pressing problems,” Archer wrote in a University press release

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm described the need for funding these projects as the nation tackles the ongoing climate crisis.

“Universities, companies and our national labs are doubling down on advancing clean energy technology innovation and manufacturing in America to deliver critical energy solutions from renewables to fusion energy to tackle the climate crisis,” Granholm wrote in a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In his announcement of the grants, Schumer explained how investing in environmental research at Cornell is critical to the advancement of clean energy solutions nationwide.

“From the push to decarbonize 100 percent of its building to the groundbreaking research being done at Cornell University, many are now recognizing what I have long known — Ithaca is paving the way to a greener and ‘gorges’ future,” Schumer said.

The University has been a leader in sustainability for years. In 2020, after eight years of maintaining a gold rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System — an organization that ranks universities based on their sustainability performances —  the University was recognized as a platinum rated institution for its sustainability efforts. Cornell is the only Ivy League institution to receive a platinum rating, the organization’s highest rating category, from STARS.

The University was also one of the first 50 campuses in the nation and the first Ivy League to commit to carbon neutrality. 

Climate change matters have long resonated with the Cornell community, with students making various efforts to combat climate change and encourage the University to divest from the use of fossil fuels.