SBU, National Grid throwing gas at the AERTC

The naturals: Representatives of Stony Brook University, National Grid and other regiuonal science and business stakeholders welcome the Institute of Gas Innovation and Technology Friday.

Clean, affordable energy solutions are on tap at the “country’s most comprehensive” natural gas-focused research institute.

That’s Stony Brook University’s assessment of the Institute of Gas Innovation and Technology, which the university and National Grid officially introduced with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday.

The consortium of academic and industry leaders comprising the I-GIT will rise to meet the nation’s diverse and growing energy challenges, according to SBU, which hosted SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson and National Grid NY President Ken Daly at Friday’s kickoff event.

The I-GIT – based inside the Advanced Energy Research & Development Center, a New York State-designated Center of Excellence located in Stony Brook’s Research and Development Park – will serve as an independent reviewer of gas technologies and related policies, focused on key areas including gas-supply diversification, safety, resiliency and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as Big Data management as related to natural gas systems.

Specifically, the I-GIT “will support advanced concepts in gas-technology development and deployment for homes and businesses, enabling a sustainable and safe environment through cross-disciplinary collaboration and academic-industry,” according to SBU.

Noting the I-GIT embodies the themes of innovation, sustainability and partnership reverberating through her first State of the University System address earlier this year, Johnson said the strategic partnership between SBU and National Grid would prove to be a bastion of “sustainable energy usage innovation.”

“All parties are coming to this venture with an open mind to what can be accomplished for the communities we serve,” the SUNY chancellor said, saluting “the researchers, faculty and students who will come through these doors, and future partnerships.”

Daly said National Grid was proud to be a founding partner of an institute focused on clean gas tech, non-pipe alternatives, resiliency investments and educational collaborations geared toward workforce development, all among the innovative initiatives planned for the I-GIT.

“The consortium’s innovative approach will help provide our customers and the local communities that we proudly serve with a 21st century clean-energy economy,” the National Grid NY president said Friday.

Devinder Mahajan: Large-scale promise in the I-GIT.

Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley, who welcomed a VIP guest list of regional science and business leaders to Friday’s opening, called the I-GIT “a promising home for the hands-on implementation of innovative ideas,” with nothing less than the “development of the world’s next generation of clean-energy resources” in the offing.

“Collaboration between Stony Brook University engineering researchers and National Grid, as well as other leaders in several industries, is an exciting prospect and we look forward to watching the consortium grow,” Stanley noted.

The I-GIT’s activities will be overseen by a to-be-announced Advisory Board comprising representatives of the founding organizations and “university scholars,” according to SBU. With a dual focus of industry-driven R&D and “intellectual curiosity,” the institute will seek “additional founding members and second-tier funding,” the university said.

The I-GIT expects to build “a global reach with national and international industry collaborators” within 12 months, SBU added, by “bring(ing) together business and government leaders, policymakers and researchers in developing innovative programs to deploy advanced gas-energy technologies.”

Through I-GIT will be directed by chemical engineering professor Devinder Mahajan, graduate program director in SBU’s Materials Science and Chemical Engineering Department.

The accomplished clean-energy researcher, who brings 30-plus years of research experience the job, says the I-GIT arrives at “a crucial time, as there are more and more energy choices and demands on the world’s energy systems.”

“In the United States alone, there are more than 5 million miles of natural gas pipe and 132 million buildings connected to the natural-gas system, with declining carbon intensity,” Mahajan said Friday. “This system also represents a large opportunity to bring emerging technologies to our societies on a very large scale.”