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March 25, 2008


Appointment Expands Research and Teaching in Energy, Sustainability

NEW YORK, March 25, 2008 – In a move that will expand its energy and sustainability research and teaching programs, Dr. Sanjoy Banerjee has joined the faculty of The Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York as Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Technologies.

“The appointment of Professor Banerjee is one of several strategic, senior-level hires The Grove School of Engineering is making to bolster its teaching and research programs,” said Dean Joseph Barba in announcing the appointment.  “These hires create exciting opportunities for our students to train with internationally recognized leaders.  At the same time, they help us achieve our goal of becoming a flagship school of engineering serving students from underrepresented groups.”

Professor Banerjee joins The Grove School faculty from The University of California, Santa Barbara, where he had taught since 1980 and held appointments as Professor Abovescale in Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.  A Professor Abovescale in The University of California system is comparable to a CUNY Distinguished Professor.

The Institute for Sustainable Energy Technologies is the successor to the Clean Fuels Institute, which had been studying the economic and environmental impacts of alternative energy sources.  Professor Banerjee’s vision calls for the Institute to develop sustainable energy technology to generate electricity from renewable, but intermittent, sources as well as existing nighttime overcapacity, store it efficiently and deliver it on demand.

“The quickest way to impact energy pricing is to work on the demand side of the equation,” explained Professor Banerjee, an internationally recognized expert on transport processes in energy systems.  “If we can efficiently and cheaply store electrical energy, we could make better use of existing (generating) capacity without having to add to it.”

Initially, the Institute’s work will focus on developing flow battery applications for use in buildings and transportation.  Flow batteries are rechargeable batteries in which chemical energy is converted to electricity as it undergoes a redox (reduction-oxidation) reaction while passing between a membrane that separates two different electrolytes.  To be technologically viable, such batteries would require “unprecedented energy densities, rapid recharge rates and long useful lives,” Professor Banerjee noted. 

He also wants to develop a streamlined technology transfer process to bring products to market quicker.  This would include several technology test beds that would be operated in close collaboration with industrial partners. 

The first test bed would develop large batteries that would store energy produced during off-peak periods for regeneration at peak periods.  The goal is to produce enough power to support a large building at costs that are competitive with peak power produced from natural gas sources.

The initial project is supported by a $500,000 grant from the NYSTAR Faculty Development Program, which supplements Professor Banerjee’s startup package from The City College and CUNY.  The Faculty Development Program assists New York State institutions of higher education in recruiting and retaining leading entrepreneurial research faculty in science and technology fields with strong commercial potential.

Dr. Irven Rinard, Chair of Chemical Engineering at The Grove School, will serve as Associate Director for the Institute.  Dr. Alexander Couzis, Herbert G. Kayser Professor of Chemical Engineering at The Grove School, and Dr. Ilona Kretzschmar, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, are collaborating with Professor Banerjee on the project, as well.  In addition, new faculty lines have been authorized to hire an Assistant Professor and Senior Research Associate affiliated with the Institute.

Born in Calcutta, India, Professor Banerjee holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the India Institute of Technology and he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Waterloo in Canada.  After working eight years with Atomic Energy of Canada, he was Westinghouse Professor in the Engineering and Physics Department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., from 1976 to 1980, when he joined the faculty at The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

At UCSB, he served as Vice Chair of the Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Department, 1981 – 1983, and Chair of Chemical Engineering, 1984 – 1989.  He also was Mitsubishi Visiting Chair at University of Tokyo and Burgers Visiting Chair in Fluid Mechanics at University of Delft, the Netherlands, in 1996, Guest Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, 1989 – 1990, and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at The University of California, Berkeley, 1979 – 1981.

He currently serves as a member of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC).  This Congressionally mandated body maintains oversight on U.S. reactor regulation and regulatory research.  In addition, he is a member of the USNRC Advanced Thermal Reactors Review Group and the NASA Fluid Physics Review Group.

In 2006, Professor Banerjee received the Donald Q. Kern Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for his seminal work on transport phenomena in multiphase systems.  This research has had major impact on the analyses of plant safety and environmental processes. 

Other awards include the Danckwerts Memorial Lecture to the Chemical Engineering Science/Institution of Chemical Engineers in London in 1991 and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Melville Medal in 1983.  He is listed as author on more than 190 articles, book chapter and refereed conference proceedings and holds four patents.

About The Grove School of Engineering at CCNY

The Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York, formerly the CCNY School of Engineering, is the only public engineering school within New York City.  It offers Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. degrees in seven fields: biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering and computer science.  The School is recognized nationally for the excellence of its instructional and research programs and ranks among the most diverse engineering schools in the country.  On November 28, 2005, the CUNY Board of Trustees named the School in honor of Dr. Andrew S. Grove, a member of the CCNY Class of 1960, and a co-founder and former chairman of Intel Corp., the world’s leading producer of microprocessors.  For additional information, visit www1.ccny.cuny.edu/prospective/engineering.

About The City College of New York

For more than 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 14,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; The School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA); The School of Education; The Grove School of Engineering, and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.  For additional information, visit www.ccny.cuny.edu.