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University Gets a $3.6 million Renewable Energy Boost

Case Western Reserve University's new Great Lakes Institute for Energy Innovation received a large boost on Tuesday, December 18, with the awarding of a $3.6 million grant from the Cleveland Foundation.

Based at the Case School of Engineering and building on the university’s strengths in fuel cell research and materials science, the new institute will generate and implement achievable solutions today to build and sustain tomorrow’s industries through development of innovative energy technology platforms and farsighted energy research and energy-use strategies. Three major areas of research are envisioned: renewable power, energy storage and efficiency of larger energy systems.

The goal of the institute is aimed at developing economically viable, reliable and sustainable energy resources for all.

“The greatest challenges and opportunities for engineers and scientists of the 21st century likely will focus on the generation, transportation, utilization and storage of energy,” said Norman C. Tien, dean of the Case School of Engineering and driving force behind the Great Lakes Institute for Energy Innovation. "With this startup funding from the Cleveland Foundation, the Case School of Engineering is well-positioned to advance energy innovation in Ohio. We will be augmenting the engineering faculty with this funding by hiring mid-level, well-established players who will have an immediate impact on the school and on our energy initiatives."

The Cleveland Foundation funds will support recruitment of new faculty for the institute. In addition, faculty and researchers at the institute will also develop outreach programs in science, technology, engineering and math for Cleveland-area primary and secondary students and teachers.

"I am grateful to the Cleveland Foundation for its generous support of the university's and Ohio's efforts to be at the forefront of next-generation energy production," said Barbara R. Snyder, president of Case Western Reserve. "The university's extensive partnerships with corporate, academic, philanthropic and governmental institutions enhance all of our energy innovation activities. These strategic partnerships are essential to our success as one of the largest private research universities in the region and integral to positioning Ohio as a national leader in meeting the energy challenges of our day and well into the future."

The institute is already leading the Great Lakes Wind Energy Research Center, a resource for government and industry to innovate, test and deploy new alternative energy technologies that efficiently and durably harness wind power. In August 2007 Case Western Reserve committed $200,000 to the Board of Commissioners of Cuyahoga County (BOCC) and the county's Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force to partially sponsor a study that would determine the feasibility of developing a wind energy research center on Lake Erie. Currently, Case Western Reserve is working closely with the task force, chaired by Cuyahoga County prosecutor Bill Mason, and with other universities, government laboratories and industry, to conduct the study.

If the study determines it to be feasible, the Great Lakes Wind Energy Research Center -- co-managed by the university -- would be comprised of two components: an approximately 20-megawatt wind turbine project located in Lake Erie 3-6 miles from downtown Cleveland, and an affiliated research center to facilitate industry testing of next-generation utility-scale wind technologies.

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