The Energy Commercialization Institute (ECI), the region’s first university-based energy commercialization partnership, has awarded $500K to five university-based translational research and commercialization projects.

The funding is intended to jump start promising technologies and help build southeastern Pennsylvania’s alternative energy infrastructure.

The ECI, with funding from the Commonwealth’s Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, was created by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP), Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State University.  It supports the commercialization of energy-sector technology through translational research and sponsored research funding.  Partnered with Philadelphia University, Temple University, Villanova University and Widener University, the ECI has supported the development of more than 110 Intellectual Property assets, executed 12 technology licenses and leveraged $16.5M to the region.

These projects were awarded through ECI’s Energy Translational Research Fund (ETRF),providing funding directly to institutional researchers.

“These projects were selected because of their high degree of potential success in commercialization.  They will help keep southeastern Pennsylvania at the forefront of the alternative energy arena,” said Anthony P. Green, Ph.D., Ben Franklin Director, ECI; & Vice President of Technology Commercialization: Life Sciences, Ben Franklin.


Emin Caglan Kumbar, Ph.D (Lead PI) – Drexel University; Co-PIs: Yuri Gogotsi, Ph.D. & Volker Pressor, Ph.D. – Drexel University;  Haim Bau, Ph.D. – The University of Pennsylvania:

“Development of Electrochemical Flow Capacitor Prototype for Rapid Energy Storage in Smart Grid Applications”

Awarded $150,000

Emin Caglan Kumbur, Ph.D and Yury Gogotsi, Ph.D are developing a first generation “electrochemical flow capacitor,” a new breakthrough energy storage technology that eliminates the major limitations of conventional supercapacitors, and enables scalable energy storage for grid-scale applications. The Drexel team, in collaboration with Prof. Haim Bau at the University of Pennsylvania, will build a portable prototype system to demonstrate the fundamental operation, and show the potential of this new technology for smart grid and renewable energy applications.


Alexander Fridman, Ph.D. (Lead PI) – Drexel University; Co-PI: Dmitri Vainchtein, Ph.D. – Temple University:

“Scaling Up of Non- Equilibrium Gliding Arc Plasma Discharges to Industrial Level Required for H2 Production from Biomass, Coal, Organic Wastes, Desulfurization of Oil and CO2 Sequestration”

Awarded $115,000

Alexander Fridman, Ph.D, leading a Drexel University/Temple University team, will commercialize technology which creates clean energy from biomass, coal and organic wastes.  The team will commercialize “gliding arc” plasma units to industrial power levels. These gliding arcs are highly efficient in hydrogen/syngas generation. Major energy generating companies have already expressed interest in the project based on very favorable economic analysis of the technology.


Shu Yang, Ph.D. – University of Pennsylvania:

“Transparent, Anti-fouling Coatings for Photovaltaic Devices: A Chemical and Physical Approach Toward Prevention of Hard Shading”

Awarded $60,000

Shu Yang, Ph.D. and her team at the University of Pennsylvania, are developing transparent, superhydrophobic coatings to protect solar panels from bird droppings, a costly problem which limits their efficiency and geographical implementation. Working with collaborators at Rhodia, Inc, the Yang team will investigate high velocity complex fluid splashing which mimics bird droppings. The team expects that the results will lead to a novel coating technology that could significantly improve current solar cell efficiency, as well as the future development of a wide range of new products to improve transparency and efficiency of light harvesting beyond solar cells (e.g. building skins).


Yossef A. Elabd, Ph.D. – Drexel University:

“Super Conductive Nanofiber Fuel Cell Electrodes”

Awarded $60,000

Yossef Elabd, Ph.D. is producing super ion conductive nanofiber electrodes for energy fuel cells, utilizing a new electrospinning/electrospraying process.  His Drexel team aims to reduce the high cost of fuel cells by significantly decreasing the amount of precious metal catalyst used to manufacture electrodes. Cost savings in this area will directly impact the production cost of fuel cell vehicle engines, a major limiting factor in their mass commercialization.


Andrew Rappe, Ph.D. (Lead PI) – University of Pennsylvania; Co-PI: Jonathan Spanier, Ph.D. – Drexel University; Co-PI: Peter K. Davies – University of Pennsylvania:

“Ferroelectric Semiconductor Thin-films for Inexpensive and Efficient Solar Cells”

Awarded $115,000

Andrew Rappe, Ph.D., will lead a Drexel University/University of Pennsylvania team to develop a thin-film process and solar cell technology based on a new class of materials, ferroelectric semiconductors, that absorb visible light and efficiently separate the resulting carriers. The development of inexpensive and efficient solar cells is of great commercial and technological importance. Since these ferroelectric-oxide solar cells can be produced at lower cost and with reduced ecological impact compared with existing technology, this project will be a good starting point for the future engineering of scalable solar cell fabrication methods.


Source: Ben Franklin Technology Partners