ExxonMobil & Princeton University Partnership Unveils “New Energy Research Projects”

A new press release has revealed that an ExxonMobil and Princeton University research partnership has finalized its decisions on the 5 projects that will be receiving funding through the joint initiative.

Generally, the winners are focusing on:

  • organic solar photovoltaics;
  • second-life EV batteries;
  • Arctic sea ice modeling;
  • plasma physics;
  • the impact of CO2 absorption on the oceans.

Most people reading this will probably interpret all of this as greenwashing and nothing else, and you’re probably right — after all, remember the contrast between the newly released emails between the UK government and Shell and those between the UK government and ExxonMobil?


Those interested in reading more, though, may appreciate these detailed descriptions of the 5 projects getting access (over a 5 year period) to the $5 million in funding promised by ExxonMobil:

Organic Photovoltaics: The objective is to study how new photovoltaic materials, particularly those polymeric in nature, can be applied in forms of coatings and building materials. The project will be led by Lynn Loo, director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Theodora D. ’78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering, and professor of chemical and biological engineering.

Extending Battery Lifetime and Cycle Efficiency: The project will use diagnostic tools recently developed at Princeton to study degradation pathways of electric-vehicle batteries, and how they might impact follow-on use in applications on the power grid, known as “second life” applications. Research will be led by Daniel Steingart, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.

Arctic Sea-Ice Modeling: The focus of the project is to advance sea-ice models used for understanding the factors controlling Arctic sea-ice cycles and, consequently, the ability to make reliable seasonal and long-range forecasts for sea-ice formation and melting. Research will be conducted at Princeton’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, a premier institution that has been developing state-of-the-art sea-ice modeling tools for decades. The project will be led by Alistair Adcroft, research oceanographer, and Olga Sergienko, research glaciologist, at the Princeton University Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program/NOAA-Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Role of the Ocean in the Future of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels: The project’s objective is to gain insight into the future of carbon dioxide uptake by the ocean by reconstructing ocean carbon cycle changes during past periods of warming. Research will be led by Daniel Sigman, Dusenbury Professor of Geological and Geophysical Sciences.

Plasma Physics: The project will take advantage of Princeton’s world-leading facilities for studying plasma physics. It will explore low-energy plasmas’ effectiveness in enhancing or controlling energy-related chemical processes, such as converting natural gas to larger molecules for producing liquid fuels or chemical feedstocks. Egemen Kolemen, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, is leading this research with Yiguang Ju, Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

This news follows on last month’s news of a similar partnership with the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute that will see $15 million invested to support the pursuit of “technologies to help meet growing energy demand while reducing environmental impacts and the risk of climate change.” Or so ExxonMobil reps say.

It should be remembered that $5 million and $15 million are drops in the bucket for companies like ExxonMobil. Not serious investments.

James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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