In 2012/13 the following four projects were selected for support:
LEVERAGING ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY AND THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES TO INSTITUTE LONG-TERM TRAVEL BEHAVIOR CHANGE
- Professor Joan Walker (Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Professor John Canny (Computer Science Division)
- Professor Dan Chatman (City and Regional Planning)
- Professor Raja Sengupta (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
The debate on how to achieve climate goals has largely centered on reducing emissions through the development of cleaner technologies and production processes. However,significant technological advances will prove inadequate in meeting 2050 GHG reduction goals. Four in five trips made within the United States are by passenger car. The use of disincentives such as an increase in the gas tax or the introduction of a congestion charge are hard political sells. Incentives such as lotteries or gift cards, while easier to implement, have only been successful in initiating short-term behavior change. If we are to foster more permanent changes toward sustainable travel patterns, we need a fundamental shift in long-term travel lifestyle and mobility decisions. Our research aims to achieve such changes using information, behavioral science, and technology to focus on efforts that intervene when one is making a residential location decision (i.e., moving). A household’s location in relation to other destinations has a profound impact on the availability and feasibility of alternative travel modes and the resources spent on travel. By drawing attention to the many ways in which residential location affects travel behavior, the study proposes to study individuals and households in the midst of a residential relocation choice and to use this information for the design and evaluation of personalized intervention strategies as a means of influencing the decision on where to move.
IMPROVING ELECTRIC AND HYBRID VEHICLE SYSTEM EFFICIENCY
Improving our energy efficiency has become an important focus area in reducing our energy demand, which will require a multi-pronged approach if it is to have a major impact. The ability to both capture and reuse currently wasted energy presents an exciting opportunity for inter-disciplinary innovation geared toward increasing system efficiency, especially in transportation and manufacturing, areas that consume over 70% of worldwide energy production. INSTAR (Inertial Storage and Recovery) Research Group at UC Berkeley proposes to design and manufacture the first full-scale prototype of a cost-effective, high-power, flywheel energy storage system with initial application for improving electric and hybrid vehicle system efficiency.
INSTAR will establish an interdisciplinary research laboratory focused on cost-effective, scalable energy storage with applications in transportation and advanced manufacturing energy efficiency. INSTAR will help Berkeley develop connections to industry, as it has with Tesla Motors, National Instruments, and Electric Motorsport. INSTAR’s research will attract students interested in the developing field of energy storage, efficient power management, and advanced vehicle technology.
ITERATIVE DESIGN AND ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF A SOLAR-POWERED DC MICROGRAM FOR UNELECTRIFIED RURAL COMMUNITIES
- Professor Eric Brewer (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
- Professor Edward Miguel (Economics)
- Professor Seth Sanders (Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences)
Roughly 1.3 billion people in developing countries still live without access to reliable electricity. These households will drive most of the medium-term growth in energy consumption. As expanding access using current technologies will accelerate global climate change, we must find novel solutions that displace fossil fuels and are financially viable for developing regions. The overarching goal of this team of engineers and economists is to design, build and field-test a scalable, sustainable electrification system based on renewable generation, for communities that are unlikely to gain access to the grid in the near term. They plan to do this by capturing high quality information about household energy demand in developing countries, and using these data to design and pilot a novel microgrid technology with innovative metering, payment and operating models in rural Kenya.This will be the first project to study the economic and technological aspects of rural electrification in Kenya from both on- and off-grid perspectives, with direct implications for other developing countries.
THE IMPACT OF PROJECTED DROUGHT ON U.S. FOOD PRODUCTION
- Professor J. Keith Gilless (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management)
- Professor David Zilberman (Agricultural and Resource Economics)
The impacts of climate change on agricultural production are potentially critical but poorly understood. Theoretical and empirical analysis suggests these impacts may be closely related to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events. The impact of climate change-driven extreme events on agricultural production will vary across crops and geographical regions; even within small regions the impact of climate change on different segments of society will likely vary. The agricultural adaptation literature on climate change distinguishes two main approaches to its analysis. The “Scenario” approach uses alternative scenarios in order to understand which agricultural practices could reduce risk exposure associated with climate change. The “Institutional” approach uses socio-economic data, specific policy design and implementation schemes, and farmers’ perceptions of the risk to determine management responses that might reduce climate change impacts. While most analysis of the impact of climate change in the agricultural sector follow one of these approaches, the proposed research would combine institutional data with scenario analysis to produce a more nuanced projection of extreme events impacts, particularly droughts, for the Midwestern US, as well as evaluate adaptation and adoption alternatives to address these impacts.
ENGINEERED HYBRIDS FOR THERMOPOWER GENERATION
- Professor Jeffrey Reimer (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
- Professor Rachel Segalman (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
Considerable attention has focused recently on strategies to generate electrical power in ways that complement renewable energy production. One strategy envisions thermoelectric devices capturing heat from the working fluids of solar-thermal power plants during nocturnal cycles. Such devices would also serve as power generators by using waste heat from existing power plants. Unfortunately, the efficiency of thermoelectric devices is too low for practical implementation, and they are presently made of materials that are too costly and/or toxic. Recent fundamental studies of the “molecular thermoelectric effect” portend the discovery of significant thermopower enhancement in polymer-inorganic nanocomposites. Professor Reimer and Professor Segalman will undertake an initial study of the role of interfaces between organic and inorganic materials in new thermoelectric devices, specifically between nanocomposite tellurium and an electroactive polymer using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods. Through their investigations they hope to produce an engineered thermopower hybrid material within two years.