Breakout Sessions

Energy Days aims to build networks of professionals from all areas of the energy sector. To assist in this effort, the conference has two sets of Breakout Session designed to create new partnerships that provide results and innovative solutions to energy challenges.

Breakout Sessions are subject to change. The website will be updated with the most current information as soon as possible.


Morning Sessions (10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Afternoon Sessions (2 to 4 p.m.)

Activating Distributed Energy: The Rural to Urban Network

(10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Nathaniel Quincy Belcher, Professor of Architecture, Penn State
  • Paul Shrivastava, Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of Sustainability Institute, Penn State
Panelists
  • Avinash Srivastava, Principal and Director of Urban Analytics, AECOM
  • Kushan Dave, Urban Planner + Designer, Urban Analytics | Design + Planning + Economics, AECOM
  • Ryan Bouma, Associate Principal, Design, Planning, and Economics, AECOM
  • James Freihaut, Professor of Architectural Engineering, Penn State
  • Hari Osofsky, Dean, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs, Penn State
  • Will Agate, President/Founder, NetZero Microgrid Solutions, LLC

As renewables energy sources gain ground they will give rise decentralization of energy production and distribution in our collective urban and rural contexts. This decentralization has major implication for urban and rural energy ecologies and infrastructures and the development of new microgrid technologies. In this panel, we will consider the challenges and pathways to transitioning from a mostly centralized power generation system to a highly decentralized renewable energy production systems.

Bringing Solar Power to Communities

(2 to 4 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Ed Johnstonbaugh, Educator in Energy Savings and Renewables, Penn State
  • Jeffrey Brownson, Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering, Penn State
Panelists
  • Dave Hommrich, President of Sunrise Energy
  • Tonya St Clair, USDA Rural Development

Renewable Energy for Municipal Authorities, Bringing Solar PV to Communities
Municipal Authorities that provide fresh water and/or wastewater treatment in Southwestern PA are under pressure to maintain efficient operations and provide quality services at affordable rates. One of the critical commodities they purchase is electricity that has, since 2001, increased in price by 53% (US Energy Information Administration). Participants in the REMAP session will learn about opportunities to bring solar PV projects to their communities that benefit all of the residents, and methods to finance these projects that make sense.

Entangled Engineering: Catalyzing Community Solar as a Process
The challenge with solar power development is growing human capital, social capital, and rooting trust among stakeholders. Approaching solar development with a series of interactive workshops has demonstrated the potential to catalyze community solar (e.g. initiate larger projects in less time), optimize solar utility (preference for solar goods and services), and reduce risk among stakeholders. The process for on-boarding communities into solar collective action solutions will be demonstrated for multiple scales in PA.

Critical Materials for Power and Mineral Industries

(10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Sarma Pisupati, Professor, Chair of the Energy Engineering Program, Penn State
  • Pete Rozelle, Churnside Technology Management, LLC
Panelists
  • Steven Winberg, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Department of Energy (Invited)
  • Chunshan Song, Director of the EMS Energy Institute and Distinguished Professor of Fuel Science, Penn State
  • Judd Swift, CEO, Synfuels Americas
  • Barry Worthington, National Energy Association
  • Serguei Lvov, Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering, Penn State
Invited Participants
  • Barbara Arnold, PrepTechGeorge Ellis, ARIPPA
  • Rachel Gleason, Pennsylvania Coal Association
  • Dan Gorski, Texas Mineral Resources
  • Tom Gray, Tetra Tech
  • Angelos Kokkinos, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Ted Leisenring, Emberclear
  • Randy Lindenmuth, Reading Anthracite/Lehigh Engineering
  • Scott Long, Clean Energy Technology Association
  • Tony Marchese, Texas Mineral Resources
  • Doug Matheny, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Dan McGroarty, Texas Mineral Resources
  • James Pagnotti, Jeddo Coal
  • Tom Rose, Clean Energy Technology Association
  • Conrad Regis, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Bob Shepard, Rosebud Mining
  • Richard Troiano, Somerset Coal
  • Gil Widenhofer, Robbindale Energy
  • Cameron Davies, Rare Earth Salts

To identify and develop indigenous resources for critical materials including rare earth elements for power and mineral industries.

Outcome: Identifying potential paths for collaboration of Industry, University, and Federal and State agencies to identify and develop the resources necessary.

Demonstrating Energy University—Building Re-generation

(2 to 4 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Nathaniel Quincy Belcher, Professor of Architecture, Penn State
  • Andrew Gutberlet, Manager Engineering Services for Office of Physical Plant, Penn State
  • Meghan Hoskins, Research & Development, Applied Research Lab Penn State
Panelists
  • Nathaniel Quincy Belcher, Professor of Architecture, Penn State
  • Kushan Dave, Urban Planner + Designer, Urban Analytics | Design + Planning + Economics, AECOM
  • Ryan Bouma, Associate Principal, Design, Planning and Economics, AECOM
  • Andrew Gutberlet, Manager Engineering Services, Penn State Office of Physical Plant
  • Meghan Hoskins, Research & Development, Applied Research Lab Penn State

This session will evaluate potential sustainable energy solutions at Penn State—both at University Park and its twenty-four campuses throughout the state. The University has numerous sustainability and energy reduction goals that are influencing long-term energy planning decisions in co-generation, energy procurement, and district heating and cooling.

Beyond just utility systems, Penn State needs to evaluate the enormous opportunity to model behavior in the creation of the next generation campus. With a commitment to “embed sustainability as a fundamental value at the University through the development of sustainability literacy solutions and leadership”, Penn State can go well beyond industry embedded practice and legal structures and use our collective intellect to redefine our entire campus and community energy system so we can create regenerative environments and buildings that are healthy as well as demonstrate the value of our mission.

We will also present the data and analysis driven process to evaluate the potential of installing solar PV on and off University Park campus.

Outcome: This session will serve as a community forum to position Penn State in the comparative matrix of universities, scan emerging micro-grid energy technologies, and create actionable tasks to transition our energy, building, and infrastructure process. Additionally, identify stakeholders to workshop a proposal for Penn State’s University Strategic Initiative Seed Grants.

Emerging Technologies to Create New Markets for PA Natural Gas

(2 to 4 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Randy Vander Wal, Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering and faculty in The EMS Energy Institute and Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Penn State
  • Sarma Pisupati, Professor, Chair of the Energy Engineering Program and faculty in The EMS Energy Institute, Penn State
  • Adri van Duin, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and faculty in the Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Penn State
  • Ramakrishnan Rajagopalan, Assistant Professor of Engineering, Penn State
  • Kofi Adu, Associate Professor of Physics, Penn State
  • Chunshan Song, Director of The EMS Energy Institute, Penn State
Panelists
  • Ron Kent, Technology Development Manager, Major Demonstrations, Southern California Gas Company, a Sempra Energy Company (Confirmed)
  • Denise Brinley, Senior Energy Advisor for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (Confirmed)
  • George Skoptsov, President and CEO, H Quest Vanguard Inc (Confirmed)
  • David Berry, Director of the Energy and Innovative Processes Division, DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory (Confirmed)
  • Raghubir Gupta, (former Senior VP, Energy Technology Division, RTI), currently, President, Susteon Inc., (confirmed)

The discovery of vast quantities of natural gas in Marcellus shale formations as well as subsequent innovation and development of enabling gas extraction technologies (hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling) has transformed the U.S. energy landscape. This session will address technology innovations that can boost added-value utilization of Pennsylvania natural gas in-state in the short to medium term (within 2 to 5 years). High-value opportunities, which present alternatives to gas exports or combustion for heat value, lie in distributed, modular, small-scale conversion of natural gas to advanced materials, platform chemicals, and clean fuels.

Outcome: Discussing Higher value use cases include the conversion of natural gas into platform chemicals (e.g. ethylene, butadiene) and to advanced carbon materials, which have applications in rapidly developing industry sectors such as electronics, structural and composite materials, and especially energy storage.

Energy 2100

(10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Bruce E. Logan, Evan Pugh Professor in Engineering and the Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, Penn State
  • Rachel Brennan, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, Penn State
Panelists
  • Chris Giebink, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, Penn State
  • Chris Rahn, Associate Dean for Innovation and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State
  • Tom Richard, Director of Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Penn State (TBD)
  • Erich Schienke, Instructor, Energy and Mineral Engineering, Penn State
  • Lara Fowler, Senior Lecturer at Penn State Law and Assistant Director of Outreach and Engagement at Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Penn State
  • Ali Demerci, Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Penn State (TBD)
  • Susan Stewart, Associate Teaching Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Penn State
  • David Riley, Professor of Architectural Engineering, Penn State
  • Caitlin Grady, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Penn State

How can we ensure a carbon-neutral global energy economy by 2100? What technology and policy options are available now, in the pipeline, and on the horizon? How can universities play a role in addressing global energy challenges? This two-hour workshop will feature panelists from across the colleges of Penn State that will present their ideas and engage the attendees on questions about current and near-term renewable resources, and the economics, and life-cycle analyses of different technologies and future fuels.

Outcome: Envision how Penn State could lead and promote energy solutions in the coming decades.

Growing Opportunities for Renewable Natural Gas

(10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Tom Richard, Director of Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Penn State
  • Perry Babb, Business Development, Savannah Energy, LLC
Panelists
  • Perry Babb, Business Development, Savannah Energy, LLC
  • Marilyn and Duane Hershey, Owners, Ar-Joy Farms
  • Emilio Folli, Italian Biogas Consortium and University of Milan
  • William Sapon, Senior Business Development Analyst, Peoples Gas

Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from anaerobic digestors has been increasing rapidly over the last three years, and now accounts for 97% of cellulosic biofuels in the US. Cost-effective technologies for biogas separation and over-the-road truck transport, and healthy prices for cellulosic Renewable Identification Numbers are motivating landfills, farms, and other organic waste generators to make and market pipeline grade methane. Panelists will discuss these and other emerging opportunities, including the challenges of a low electricity price environment, strategies for delivering to the gas pipeline grid, and future opportunities to monetize RNG as dispatchable renewable energy – competing against batteries rather than solar and wind.

This session will identify research and policy needs, outreach opportunities, and partnerships for new business development to enable and expand Renewable Natural Gas.

Impact of Variable Environmental Factors on Energy Producing Systems

(10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Robert Kunz, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State
Panelists
  • Rich Dennis, DOE-NETL
  • Heather Quedenfel, DOE-NETL
  • Jules Lindau, Associate Research Professor, Penn State
  • Doug Wolfe, Professor of Material Science and Engineering, Penn State
  • Hosam Fathy, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penns State
  • Adam Lavely, Research Associate Mechanical Engineering, Penn State
  • Sihong Yan, Ph.D. Candidate, Aerospace Engineering, Penn StateThe operation of virtually all energy production and harvesting systems are complicated by both day-to-day and extreme environmental conditions, that play directly into their performance and thereby design. Deep technology investments are being pursued in areas of materials science (e.g., coatings), active control, large-data centric decision making, multivariate optimization, and a number of others. Topics to be discussed include but are not limited to:Extreme events for Wave Energy Conversion
  1. Impact of particle field on gas turbines
  2. Wind turbine field interactions with the atmospheric boundary layer
  3. Grid response to extreme weather events
  4. Icing impact on aeropropulsion and wind turbines

This session focuses on identifying opportunities for collaboration in the broad area of environmental factors on energy systems.

Leverage: Energy

This is a special session half-hour session that will continue with PA Energy Horizons: PA Energy Innovation Network (Part 1) at 11 a.m

(10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
Moderator
  • Eric J. Barron, President, Penn State
Panelists
  • Deborah Wince-Smith, President and CEO, Council on Competitiveness
  • Chris Gould, Chief Innovation and Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy, Exelon Corporation
  • Suresh Sunderrajan, Associate Laboratory Director, Argonne National Laboratory’s Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach Directorate
  • Neil Sharkey, Vice President for Research, Penn State

Energy is the lynchpin of economic growth and prosperity. In its abundance, low-cost, efficient energy can create a competitive advantage for the United States, enabling increased productivity and efficiency across industries and locales. In May of 2017, the Council on Competitiveness hosted a dialogue in partnership with Penn State, Exelon and Argonne National Laboratory, focused on identifying strategies for a sustainable, economically-viable energy future that satisfies the needs of consumers, industry, and environment.

This session will utilize the Council’s report released today, Leverage: Energy, to inform a discussion on how to apply key findings in the areas of talent, technology, investment and infrastructure to Pennsylvania’s unique and evolving energy landscape in a way that will create state-wide economic development opportunities and encourage regional prosperity.

This is a special session half-hour session that will continue with PA Energy Horizons: PA Energy Innovation Network (Part 1) at 11 a.m.

Managing Methane Emissions

(2 to 4 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Lara Fowler, Senior Lecturer at Penn State Law and Assistant Director of Outreach and Engagement at Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Penn State
Panelists
  • Ken Davis, Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Science, Penn State
  • Seth Blumsack, Associate Professor of Energy Policy and Economics, Penn State
  • Hari Osofsky, Dean, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs, Penn State

Managing methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from multiple sources is a growing challenge. This session will explore sources of methane emissions, as well as potential ways of detecting and managing methane emissions. This session will provide an opportunity to focus more on the following topics, the subjects of potential working groups following two other workshops on methane emissions:

  1. Comparative assessment of best practices and regulatory requirements for different types of methane emission reduction from unconventional oil and gas production (e.g., wet/dry gas, oil)
  2. Economics of methane abatement: building a robust and updateable marginal abatement cost curve for PA
  3. Determining sources of methane emissions from unconventional oil and gas production in PA
  4. Emerging technologies to detect and monitor methane emissions from unconventional oil and gas production in PA, including leak detection and emissions monitoring
  5. Emerging technologies to reduce methane emissions from unconventional oil and gas production in PA
  6. Determining and reducing sources of methane emissions overall: conventional,  unconventional, orphan wells, and non-oil and gas sources

The goal of this session is to identify potential paths for future research and action.

Overcoming the Technical, Economic and Regulatory Barriers to Adoption of Distributed Energy/Microgrid Systems

(2 to 4 p.m.)
Organizers
  • James Freihaut, Professor of Architectural Engineering, Penn State
Panelists
  • Kevin Wright, Co-founder and President, ProtoGen Energy
  • Denise Brinley, Senior Energy Advisor for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
  • Kerry Campbell, PADEP
  • Jeff Beiter, EFinity
  • Chris Fraga, AEDG
  • Karl Zimmerman, Energy IQ

This session will explore the adoption of low carbon footprint, resilient, and economically competitive distributed energy/microgrid systems.

Outcome: Identifying key SYSTEM issues that need to be addressed for wider adoption of low carbon footprint, resilient and economically competitive distributed energy/microgrid systems.

PA Energy Horizons: PA Energy Innovation Network (Part 1)

The first half hour of this session (10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.) will be Leverage: Energy.

(11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Monty Alger, Director of INGaR, Penn State
  • Tom Murphy, Extension Educator and Co-Director of the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, Penn State
Panelists
  • Denise Brinley, Senior Energy Advisor, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
  • Ryan Unger, President & CEO, Team Pennsylvania
  • Fari Ghadar, William A. Schreyer Professor of Global Management, Policies and Planning, Director, Center for Global Business Studies, Penn State

The availability of abundant low-cost energy has created a major opportunity for Pennsylvania to build a new 21st-century economy providing economic growth, jobs, and new revenue for investment. At the same time, there is a need to reduce emissions and to ensure a successful transition to a future affordable low-carbon energy platform by balancing economic and environmental objectives. This session will feature presentations covering activities underway that can be part of designing an “Energy Transition” methodology including creating a new public, private, and government partnership building on the many already existing activities across the state and region.

During the past year TeamPA and the PA Department of Community and Economic Development supported by the Shell Scenario Planning Team, sponsored a year study on Pennsylvania Energy Futures. Approximately 70 people were involved from all sectors – public, private, academic, government, and NGOs. The study has produced two possible future scenarios for the evolution of economic development in the state based on a low-cost energy platform. This morning breakout session will provide an update on that study as well as related outreach efforts. The goal for this session will be to begin the design of a public, private, and government collaboration to support economic development in the state – “The Pennsylvania Energy Innovation Network.”

The first half hour of this session (10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.) will be Leverage: Energy.

PA Energy Horizons: Integrated Market to Research and Education (Part 2)

(2 to 4 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Monty Alger, Director of INGaR, Penn State
  • Tom Murphy, Extension Educator and Co-Director of the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, Penn State
Panelists
  • John Jordan, Clinical Professor of Supply Chain & Information Systems, Penn State
  • Darrell Velegol, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, Penn State
  • Ivor Knight, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Penn State Behrend
  • Eugene Morgan, Assistant Professor of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, Penn State
  • Greg King, Professor of Practice, Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, Penn State
  • Mort Webster, Professor of Energy Engineering, Penn State

We propose to use technology to build a new integrated model of collaboration that digitally connects markets, basic research, and higher education. Technology has transformed HOW we can work and has enabled radically new business models supported by digital shared global platforms with examples including Amazon, Uber, and AirBnB—along with many others. The workforce is more dynamic as long-tenure positions at companies are less common, and intellectual capital management has become vital to maintain a competitive market advantage. Students seeking their first jobs benefit from prior workplace experience and knowledge of professional skills, including business communication, business finance, and project management.

New models of online learning provide access to just-in-time learning and the opportunity to connect basic research innovation with market opportunity. The lean start-up model, NSF’s I-Corps, and interest in entrepreneurship have opened new opportunities for small business creation and factor into larger companies’ innovation investments, while reinforcing the value of basic research and future investment. This session will cover several initiatives underway designed around a new “integrated” market to research and education model, from basic research to market commercialization taking advantage of the technology-enabled world of today. The session will cover several examples that are underway and will conclude with discussion of next steps. All examples align with the concept of “Energy Transition” as part of a future “PA Energy Innovation Network”.

Pennsylvania’s Next Biorefinery

(2 to 4 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Dan Ciolkosz, Assistant Research Professor and Academic Program Coordinator, Penn State
  • Perry Babb, Business Development, Savannah Energy, LLC
Panelists
  • Fred Moesler, Chief Technology Officer for Renmatix
  • Randy Delbert LeTang, Founder, Chairman, CEO and President, SG Preston
  • Tim Winters, CEO, Western New York Energy

Currently, one biorefinery is located in Pennsylvania, producing approximately 20% of the state’s bioethanol. This session will discuss opportunities for expanding the biorefinery sector in the state, examining options for additional bioethanol, chemicals and lubricants, graphine materials and renewable synthetic diesel.

Outcomes: Identifying siting, feedstocks, conversion platforms, and business models for economic success of biorefineries.

The Philadelphia Navy Yard as a Living Lab for Addressing Sustainable Growth of the Modern Electric Grid

(10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Mark Stutman, Assistant Research Professor, Penn State
  • Lisa Shulock, Research Project Manager, Penn State
Panelists
  • Eric Stein, Manager R&D and New Technology Projects, PECO
  • Chris Fraga, President and CEO, Alternative Energy Development Group
  • Andrew Levitt, Senior Market Strategist, PJM Emerging Markets

Planning for sustainable growth of the modern electric grid requires an understanding of the relationships and interplay between economics, resilience, electricity supply and demand, and the imperative to reduce carbon emissions in the building sector. The Philadelphia Navy Yard’s private unregulated electric grid provides a living laboratory for addressing this critical topic and has been recognized by the Penn State-led Global Building Network as an important pillar of the initiative. Penn State has been a research and education partner collaborating with key stakeholders at the Navy Yard for the last decade and owns two buildings at the Navy Yard where research, demonstration, and education activities are conducted.

The assembled panel will identify critical issues they have encountered, how they have been overcome (or not), next steps, and how the Navy Yard experience is relevant to grid modernization efforts more broadly.

Sensing in Harsh Environments for Energy Applications

(2 to 4 p.m.)
Organizers
  • Jacqueline O’Connor, Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Penn State
  • Karen Thole, Head, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Penn State
  • Robert Kunz, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State
  • Stephen Lynch, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State
Panelists
  • Reid Berdanier, Assistant Research Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State
  • Chao-Yang Wang, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State
  • Marek Flaska, Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Penn State
  • Jeffrey Banks, Department Head – Complex Systems Monitoring and Automation, Applied Research Laboratory, Penn State
  • Stephanie Stockar, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State

This session will focus on the critical issue of sensing in harsh environments for energy applications, including gas turbines, batteries, nuclear reactors, piston engines, and others. Obtaining data in these environments is critical for the safe, efficient, and durable operation of these energy devices, yet the development of sensors for these environments and the interpretation of data at these conditions is often difficult.

This session looks to identify potential areas of collaboration between energy systems and disciplines.