Business leaders, laboratory tours highlight energy research showcase

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 16, 2006 – Business and government leaders will address renewable and non-renewable energy opportunities and challenges and Virginia's efforts to commercialize energy research at the Energy Research Showcase on Nov. 29 and 30 at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.

The showcase offers business and community leaders the opportunity to learn about energy-related activities, research, and results at universities in Virginia. The agenda will also include discussions on energy policy, environment, infrastructure, and efficiency.

Speakers include Tom French, senior vice president for nuclear engineering at AREVA NP Inc. and Mitch King, president of Old Mill Power Company. AREVA NP Inc., headquartered in Paris with regional subsidiaries in the United States and Germany, is a leader in the design and construction of nuclear power plants, and the supply of fuel, maintenance, and modernization services. Old Mill Power Company of Charlottesville sells electricity produced using low environmental impact, renewable, or nondepletable primary energy sources.

The luncheon speaker is Richard J. Peltz, alternate federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life. ARC has released a comprehensive energy blueprint that provides a strategic framework for the promotion of new energy-related job opportunities throughout the Appalachian Region. The blueprint examines non-renewable and renewable energy opportunities based on the competitive potential of Appalachia’s energy resources and current and emerging energy technologies.

Other speakers are Rick Siger, deputy secretary of Commerce and Trade, speaking at the opening reception Wednesday evening, Nov. 29, and John Warren, director of the Division of Energy of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, speaking at the first session of the day on Thursday, Nov. 30.

Members of the panel discussions will include Gordon Michaels, chief technology officer of Energy and Engineering Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Michael Karmis, professor and director of the Virginia Coal and Energy Research Center; Mike Carruth of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership; Jonathon J. Miles, professor in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University; Michael J. Schewel, partner with McGuire Woods and former Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade; and Richard Hirsh, professor of history and science and technology studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and director of the Consortium on Energy Restructuring at Virginia Tech.

The showcase will offer ten tours, including the biofuels lab, where modest reaction conditions are demonstrated for creating products from biomass; the Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures to see energy harvesting for small electronics; the Center for Power Electronics Systems to see fundamental converter integration/packaging technologies; the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; the Future Energy Electronics Center to see working prototypes of high efficiency power conditioning systems for fuel cells, solar photovoltaic devices, and thermoelectric generators; a tour of several power-efficient high-end computing prototypes; the Microwave Processing Research Facility, which is studying and simulating the use of stockpiles of radioactive waste to create fuel pellets; the Multidisciplinary Analysis and Design Center for Advanced Vehicles; chemistry labs where supramolecular complexes and nanomaterials are created to convert solar light to other useable forms of energy such as hydrogen; the Power Grid Situation Awareness Monitoring System; and Virginia Tech’s Fuel Cell Experimental Research Labs.

The showcase will foster commercialization of research from Virginia universities in the energy and energy-related environmental fields, enhance public-private partnerships that will make Virginia a leader in energy security and sustainability, stimulate economic development, and facilitate the adoption of profitable energy solutions. Sponsored by Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development and the Deans' Task Force for Energy Security and Sustainability, the showcase is part of Virginia Tech’s “Energy Ideas” initiative, a year-long series of events designed to increase dialogue within the university and acquaint the public with Virginia Tech’s efforts related energy innovations.

There is no charge to attend, but please register. For other information about the showcase, visit Energy Research Showcase or contact Virginia Tech’s Director of Economic Development Ted Settle at (540) 231-5278.