Welch Renewable Energy Initiative
The Welch Renewable Energy Initiative (REI) within the CEC began in September 2008 with major funding from the Robert A. Welch Foundation. The REI mission is to catalyze discovery and advances in electrochemical science and engineering that can lead to next- generation renewable energy technology products.
REI research is focused on three high-risk/high-payoff thrust areas related to clean energy.
Novel Low Cost Materials for Photovoltaic and Photoelectrochemical Cells Stable High-Voltage Electrolytes for Electrochemical Energy Storage Transformative Electrocatalyst Discovery
CEC Faculty Seed Grants
Funding is available for initial exploration of paradigm-shifting approaches to electrochemical science. UT Austin faculty associated with the CEC are able to submit proposals for small amounts of seed funding for high-risk, high-reward, ideas related to the goals of REI. These small grants allow the purchase of needed instrumentation and supplies to test a concept and to obtain preliminary results needed for funding from external sources.
Visiting Scholars and Professorships
Innovation does not occur in isolated environments, and CEC solicits participation by visionary scientists and engineers from other institutions, including domestic and overseas universities, national laboratories, and industry. These visits, ranging from one week to one year, stimulate original thinking and act as a focal point to draw members of the CEC together to accomplish the CEC’sscientific and engineering goals.
Industrial Affiliates Program
Because industry alone cannot effectively deliver the fundamental breakthroughs required to advance the field, the Industrial Affiliates Program connects CEC research to companies concerned with commercial electrochemical systems, so that the focus of academic research and development can be industrially relevant, and to communicate the latest advances rapidly to industry. The Industrial Af- filiates Program is a gateway for launching and conducting frequent, open communication between participating researchers and the corporate community.
The CEC is striving to increase grant fund- ing in the areas of energy research, pho- toelectrochemistry, bioelectrochemistry and sensors. A key to this effort is the suc- cessful pursuit of large, multiple-investi- gator research grants to establish centers for research. Such opportunities exist at NSF, DOE, DoD, and through private foun- dations and some industrial sponsors. Partnerships between disciplines and with industry and government labs are also key to winning these grants. To focus, plan, and execute these efforts, Dr. Robert Villwock recently joined the CEC staff as Associ- ate Director. Dr. Villwock is collaborating with faculty and staff to ensure effective funding of the Center for Electrochemis- try, including identifying and responding to multi-investigator funding opportunities.
Dr. Villwock has a strong background in science and engineering, with experience in both large and small companies, and a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to joining UT Austin, he provided strate- gic planning, engineering project man- agement, and intellectual property sup- port for several startup companies, and has conducted research at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Dow Chemical.
In addition to grant development, Dr. Villwock also manages the Industrial Af- filiates Program, which connects lead- ing
electrochemical researchers from
both large and small corporations to CEC research, facilities, and faculty. Industrial affiliates gain direct access to state of the
—Contributed by Dr. Robert Villwock
art electrochemical research capabilities, plus access to and discussions with faculty on technical challenges. The arrangement also serves to better connect academic re- search to the industrially relevant problems of the day.
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