Universities, RTI International Create Energy Consortium

UNC, Duke University, N.C. State University are joining with RTI International to form a consortium to focus on the subject of energy.

The Research Triangle Energy Consortium aims to combine the participants’ research strengths in finding ways to address technical, environmental, economic, societal and public policy problems related to the use of energy.

“We can do things together that we cannot do individually,” said David Myers, vice president of engineering and technology at RTI International, which was created nearly 50 years ago as the initial research organization and focal point for research in Research Triangle Park. “By combining our strengths in energy research, we can tackle the most complex energy problems.”

The consortium’s first event, being held this week, is a sustainable energy symposium that is bringing together Triangle-area researchers area several industry representatives to share results, debate the major energy issues, identify promising research areas and establish collaborations.

“Combining the strengths of UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, N.C. State and RTI gives us a much greater ability to conduct energy-related research and find new solutions to problems that threaten our environment, our economy and our way of life,” said Tony Waldrop ’74, vice chancellor for research and economic development at UNC.

Duke Provost Peter Lange added, “Each partner brings distinctive research and policy capabilities and the whole contribution will be far greater than would be possible from simply working individually on the major scientific, technological, political and policy issues that energy represents.”

John Gilligan, vice chancellor for research at N.C. State, agreed: “Energy has become one of our most challenging issues, cutting across a wide range of societal challenges and academic and research disciplines. The Research Triangle area has an international reputation for research and collaboration. We’re in position to deliver some high-impact energy solutions.”

The formal agreement among the group recognizes that “the community of scientists, engineers, economists and other disciplines in the Research Triangle region represents a broad spectrum of institutions, skills sets, and research interests.”

Specifically, the consortium will work to:

  • Develop new, sustainable sources of energy;
  • Improve efficiencies in the production and consumption of energy;
  • Reduce the environmental impact of energy production and use;
  • Improve the security of energy sources and infrastructure; and
  • Educate public and private leaders and students in the implementation of new energy technology and public policy.

“Already, through the initial phases of establishing RTEC, we have succeeded in documenting the breadth of research capabilities, interests and aspirations at the member institutions,” Myers said. “If nothing else, this understanding will enable us to develop more effective joint proposals for energy research projects.”

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