Enhancing the Desert Research Institute’s efforts in renewable energy, two researchers under a fellowship awarded to DRI will support and expand existing research in renewable energy and examine how this can establish long term efforts in the field.
Dr. Umakanta Jena and Dr. Craig Smith are the initial awardees of the $500,000 Nell J. Redfield Renewable Energy Post-Doctoral Fellowship program. Two additional fellows will also join DRI to continue the efforts of research in renewable energy.
“I was eager to have a large research institution such as DRI interested in my efforts to come up with research solutions to renewable energy concerns,” said Dr. Jena.
His work focuses on converting biomass into a substance called hydrochar. It’s a solid fuel that has similar characteristics to that of naturally occurring coal.
Meanwhile, Dr. Smith’s research is centered on how to better service the use of wind energy in the American West. He says practical solutions using wind energy, such as wind farms seen in the Midwest, are not the most viable approach to applying renewable wind energy in the Western U.S.
His current efforts are to come up with the next generation of weather modeling. “The goal is to create numerical modeling assessments of wind energy resources in mountainous terrain,” Dr. Smith said.
Smith also says the award will help launch a long term, real world solution to energy concerns in the U.S.
Gerry Smith, lead trustee for the Redfield Foundation is thrilled the funds for this fellowship will help assist with innovative research for DRI.
“The Redfield Foundation is pleased to have been instrumental in funding the Redfield Post Doctoral Fellowship Program in Renewable Energy and welcomes Drs. Smith and Jena as its initial fellows,” Smith said.
Alan Gertler, Interim Executive Vice President for Research said this is the first time a foundation has given funds to DRI for a fellowship. “It’s a tremendous support to help us grow renewable energy resources through work conducted at DRI.”
He hopes this fellowship will set a precedent to bring more researchers to DRI. “It would be great if we could obtain additional gifts to DRI in the future in order to recruit potential future faculty,” Gertler said.
DRI will also provide additional funding to help assist the fellows in their renewable energy research projects.