Program seeks transformational innovations in energy and environment

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publically traded oil and gas company, has joined Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership, an initiative that forges collaborations between industry and Princeton University experts to pursue transformational innovations in the fields of energy and environment.

“Meeting the world’s energy needs in a sustainable way is a formidable challenge,” said Pablo Debenedetti, Princeton University’s dean for research. “Developing economically viable solutions requires the collaborative efforts of industry, government and academia. We are delighted that ExxonMobil is joining E-ffiliates, broadening the vibrant collaboration between Princeton and leading industry partners in the energy and environmental sectors.”

Debenedetti added that such partnerships are a distinctive activity of Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, which administers the E-ffiliates program.

During a recent signing ceremony on Princeton’s campus, ExxonMobil committed to investing $5 million during the next five years, making it the largest financial commitment to the E-ffiliates program. The company will immediately begin working with research groups across the University, including selected graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, who will be designated ExxonMobil Fellows.

“This investment is a part of ExxonMobil’s broad commitment to partner with the best and brightest universities to research and discover next-generation energy solutions,” said Vijay Swarup, vice president of Research and Development for ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Company. “Our goal is to find meaningful and scalable solutions to meet global energy demand.”

Lynn Loo, associate director of external partnerships at the Andlinger Center, said ExxonMobil enters the partnership with “a bold and long-range approach to fostering new science and technology.”

“I am excited about working with ExxonMobil, whose leaders share our view that developing lasting solutions for the future requires harnessing creativity and talent from many sectors,” Loo said, who leads E-ffiliates and is Princeton’s Theodora D. ’78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering.

Loo said the agreement with ExxonMobil demonstrates a commitment to accelerate research by creating an umbrella framework that makes it easy for any business unit of Exxon Mobil Corporation to undertake research projects with any department or lab at Princeton. Further facilitating interactions, E-ffiliates will host a visitor-in-residence from ExxonMobil, who will catalyze research initiatives and collaborations across campus.

“Our partnership with ExxonMobil is a new paradigm for conducting research on campus and exemplifies the central goal of E-ffiliates: lowering barriers for collaboration and facilitating deep and fruitful industry-academic partnerships,” Loo said.

Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership, founded in 2011, offers its corporate members an opportunity to explore research frontiers and engage faculty and students outside the companies’ core expertise. E-ffiliates is administered by the Andlinger Center in close collaboration with the Princeton Environmental Institute, the School of Architecture, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

“Having our faculty and students work closely with industry is essential to developing economically viable and environmentally responsible solutions to meet the world’s energy needs,” said Emily Carter, founding director of the Andlinger Center. “ExxonMobil brings a global perspective and a longstanding commitment to innovation that, coupled with Princeton’s deep expertise, will help move impactful, sustainable technologies into the market.”

In its first three years, member contributions have enabled E-ffiliates to fund a wide range of faculty research projects focused on greenhouse gas reduction and new forms of energy production, as well as to facilitate key policy discussions related to energy. In 2013 and 2014, for example, E-ffiliates, working with corporate partners, convened high-level federal and state energy officials to address the valuation and integration of distributed sources of energy into electricity grids. Technology-oriented projects have included the development of new types of turbines that can harness electricity from free-flowing water; innovative approaches for deploying energy storage systems on electricity grids; and technologies for producing concrete with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Related Center

  • Faculty member, seated at end of row of colleagues, leads panel discussion.

    Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment