_Seeding Sustainability

Six research projects earned support in the first round of funding by the newly established A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment.

_Hugh P. Johnson

Johnson is a senior associate with the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Drexel. He has consulted on renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy measurement and verification and green building projects for private, municipal and federal clients, as well as provided financial and technical due diligence for companies.

Across the University, researchers have been working to answer complex questions about energy and the environment. In 2013, those efforts were united under the new A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment, formed to support the creation and dissemination of scientific, evidence-based knowledge that informs a sustainable energy future.

Now two years in, the institute has awarded seed grants to several promising projects across the University that align with its mission to address some of the tough questions facing policymakers today.

Safe and Sound

One team is investigating ways to make smart grid technology more secure, and developing terminology that will allow researchers and operators to better communicate about smart grid technology.


Another team will continue research that uses Drexel as a test platform to study smart grid interactions. The group plans to conduct interviews and workshops to gather information on Drexel’s energy management practices and create a framework for the Center City Campus to become an energy-efficient “smart campus.”

Bye Carbon

A third project will create a set of recommendations for the city to significantly reduce its green house gas emissions by the year 2050.

Healthy Habits

A team of public health and engineering researchers will collaborate to assess health risks that could result from operational failures and regulatory violations in the natural gas extraction process.

Clear Waters

Faculty from the College of Engineering and the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management are working to decontaminate flowback water from the hydraulic fracturing process that is used to extract natural gas from shale formations.

Back to the Well

Another project aims to help people whose drinking water wells have been contaminated because of fracking. Engineering researchers are developing a way to use ultrasound to remove dissolved methane from water by a process of “acoustic boiling.”