Explore Energy Systems

Problems related to energy are known for their knottiness and interconnectivity. Impactful solutions demand systems approaches. Cornell Engineering brings together researchers working on components of these problems that span length scales: from a few atoms on the surface of a nanostructured catalyst particle; to the genes that direct metabolic pathways in a plant, to the electrochemical cells that comprise a battery pack; to the kilometers of heterogeneous rock formations that must be breached to recover geothermal energy for district-scale heating.

At Cornell Engineering, sustainable energy systems research is one of the strategic areas of significant research focus for the near future. “We’re not just interested in inventing gadgets,” says Jefferson Tester, a professor of sustainable energy systems, former director of the Energy Institute at Cornell and a fellow at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Rather, engineers at the college want to help create a full, functioning system that integrates renewable energy supply from multiple sources with energy efficiency technologies so that the vision of a sustainable energy future can actually be realized.

We welcome corporate and foundation collaborators to share in and support the advancement energy systems through access to Cornell Engineering’s research, faculty and facilities. Some of the many ways to engage with us include collaborative research, curriculum support, student engagement, user facilities, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship.

Recent Research

Electric car being charged at a charging station

Cornell research drives NYSEG electric car charging pilot

NYSEG, in collaboration with Eilyan Bitar, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is piloting a new approach to coordinate electric vehicle power use by encouraging owners to delay charging times in exchange for lower prices. 

From left, Cornell master’s student Eric Bachoo; building resident Lisa Harrison; Tom Sahagian, an energy-efficiency consultant and co-manager of the heat pump project; Cornell master’s student Daniel Liang; and doctoral student Zach Lee, standing, pore over the new heat pump plans for the Upper West Side apartment building.

Student engineers to ply their green skills in NYC

Cornell engineering students are working with an Ithaca, New York, engineering firm to help New York City lower its carbon footprint. Taitem Engineering has partnered with the students on a heating system retrofit project in an apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. 

Faculty and student researchers who participated in recent research into gallium nitride.

Discovery in gallium nitride a key enabler of energy efficient electronics

Gallium nitride, a semiconductor that revolutionized energy-efficient LED lighting, could also transform electronics and wireless communication, thanks to a discovery made by Cornell researchers. 

Featured Researchers

Professor Larry D. Brown

Larry D. Brown
Larry Brown, Faculty Profile
Expertise: Application of multichannel seismic reflection methods to the exploration of the continental lithosphere.

Professor Elizabeth Fisher

Elizabeth M. Fisher
Elizabeth Fisher, Faculty Profile
Expertise: Bench-scale experiments and numerical simulations to investigate the combustion chemistry, flow and heat transfer processes in biomass energy systems and other practical systems.

Professor Edwin (Todd) Cowen

Edwin (Todd) Cowen
DeFrees Hydraulics Lab
Expertise: Environmental fluid mechanics. renewable energy and sustainability.

Earth Source Heat: Cornell’s Innovative Transformation of Energy Systems

Currently, Cornell is exploring Earth Source Heat, which experts believe could create a new renewable energy industry capable of sustainably meeting heating challenges throughout the world. This creates an opportunity for education and engagement on a scale that demonstrates how research innovations might be deployed for regional, national or global benefit.

Recent Highlights:

‘Borehole of opportunity’ attracts international scientists

Scientists and engineers from around the world gathered in Cornell’s Snee Hall, Jan. 8-10, to design experiments that could be incorporated into the university’s proposal to dig a 2.5-mile-deep borehole as part of an enhanced geothermal energy system.

$7.2M grant funds exploratory research into Earth Source Heat

Cornell has secured a U.S. Department of Energy grant, expected to total about $7.2 million, which will fund exploratory research – in the form of a 2-mile-deep borehole – to help verify the feasibility of using a novel geothermal energy system to heat its campus buildings.