Energy Research Initiative

About the ERI Program

Through the ERI, the University of Rochester addresses one of greatest challenges of the 21st century: how will we provide energy for sustainable development and global prosperity delivered without harming the environment?

In 2003, the United States with less than 5% of the world's population consumed nearly 25% of the world's energy. To support the rapidly rising standard of living in countries like China and India, it is projected that an annual power output of—30 TW will be needed by 2050. This corresponds to a 130% increase from today's current level. Providing this very large amount of additional power using fossil fuels appears impossible especially without raising enormous collateral issues: the proven reserves of coal, gas, and especially oil are finite, fossil fuels are often not located in the same countries that use the most of them, and they are a likely cause of global warming. It is thus imperative that we move quickly to develop viable alternative energy sources.

The ERI was founded in 2008 as a multi-disciplinary initiative that coordinates energy-related research and educational activities at the University of Rochester. Historically, the University of Rochester has had substantive, long-term efforts in energy research over the years including the internationally recognized Laboratory for Laser Energetics. The ERI’s mission is to increase and diversify our portfolio of research and educational activities. Faculty involved with the ERI come from the departments in the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, from the Departments of Chemistry and Physics, and also from the Simon Graduate School of Business and the Warner School of Education. Presently, the ERI’s focus is on renewable energy (in particular hydrogen production and solar energy), increased energy efficiency, and fusion. Some faculty members also conduct research and teaching on biomass, nuclear science, and the business, economic and public policy aspects of energy. In addition to producing scientific breakthroughs that will form the basis for future technologies, we also educate a new generation of students that receive a broad exposure to various aspects of energy and are prepared to become leaders in the field.