Breakout Sessions

On Thursday, May 30, Energy Days presents the following Breakout Sessions, working meetings 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. – 12:30 p.m.)
Afternoon Sessions (2 – 4 p.m.)

Advanced Stimulation Technologies for Oil/Gas Development
Organizer: John Wang, Penn State

Panelists: Bob Watson, Penn State; Matt Miller, Schlumberger; Bruce Grindle, Oil and Gas Management Inc.

This session will discuss the development and application of technologies and practices in the area of advanced reservoir evaluation and stimulation using waste materials‚ such as waste water‚ generated from the oil and gas production operations and potentially mining and power plants.


Bioenergy Thermal Synergies: Complementary Markets and Value Benefits
Organizer: Dan Ciolkosz

This session is focused on the opportunity for capitalizing on additional markets and values that arise from utilizing biomass as a source of thermal energy.  Of particular interest at present is the thermochemical processing of biomass to biochar for ecological, metallurgical and other markets.  This session consists of a blend of presentation and discussion, targeting opportunities for utilizing complementary markets and services to enhance the stability and viability of bioenergy production and use.


Biomass on Marginal Land
Organizer: Tom Richard

This session will identify research, policy and outreach needs, as well as innovative partnerships for expanding markets for biomass production on landscapes. The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving major advances in understanding agricultural systems at high levels of spatial resolution.  Data from satellite observations, GPS enabled field equipment, and advanced models of flood prediction, climate, and 3D soil profiles allow farmers and landowners to understand economic profitability, climate risk, and environmental impact at a sub-field and even row-by-row level. This new knowledge is uncovering large areas of economically marginal land that are currently in row crops and could be more profitably repurposed to resilient perennial biomass crops. In addition, new conservation programs such as Pennsylvania’s multi-functional riparian buffer program are supporting perennial plantings that are harvested to provide landowners with an economic incentive for conservation. Finally, new markets are emerging with substantial demand for biomass, including as livestock bedding, for erosion control, and for bioenergy and biomaterials. This session will discuss this new paradigm of biomass crop production that can result in increased per acre profitability, improvements in water quality and other ecosystem services, and expanded markets for a regional bioeconomy.


Business Perspectives in Energy Efficiency: Value of Effective Communication, Learning, and Product Design
Organizer: Saurabh Bansal

This session will showcase three projects at Smeal College of Business in the energy domain. Saurabh Bansal will discuss the importance of using appropriate formats of reports that contain recommendations for improving energy efficiency in manufacturing facilities. Specifically, data from DOE and survey respondents show that reports with specific characteristics come across as more credible and are more likely to be adopted by decision makers. Suresh Muthulingam will present an analysis of data collected from Shale fields in PA to show that environmental inspections at the fields provide learning benefits to the entire industry which subsequently leads to reduced environmental waste. Mostafa Sabbaghi will discuss the interplay between energy density of new products and a need to design for multiple use cycles.


Conversion Of Municipal and Rural Coop Grids to Community Microgrids and District Energy Systems
Organizer: Jim Freihaut

Panelists: Jim Freihaut, Director DOE Mid-Atlantic CHP TAP Ctr.; Eric Stein, Mgr. New Technology Projects, Philadelphia Electric Company; Robert Beard, Executive Vice President – Natural Gas – UGI  Corporation; Kevin Wright, President Protogen Energy Company; Adam Walters, Pennsylvania State Energy Office; Tom Bonner, Issues Management and Public Policy, Philadelphia Electric Company

Pennsylvania has abundant shale gas reserves, a significant number of geographically dispersed, unregulated Municipal and Rural Cooperative grids, and a State Government actively interested in creating paths to use shale gas for simultaneous economic growth and increasing renewables-based energy generation. The transition of existing Municipal and Rural Cooperative transmission and distribution (T&D) systems into true Community Microgrids presents a plausible path for: a.) energy efficient, economic growth; b.) lowering carbon footprint of energy generation and manufacturing; c.) establishing the distributed infrastructures that will enable a practical transition to net zero carbon operation. Hybrid energy generation systems – consisting of gas-fired combined heat and power technology coupled to solar photovoltaic arrays along with battery and thermal energy storage systems – would transform Municipal and Rural Coop T&D systems into resilient, community microgrids and enable implementation of district thermal networks.  Demonstrating such a local grid transformation methodology would establish PA as grid modernization, paradigm state for much of the U.S. The panel will present and discuss with attendees the opportunities as well as the technical, economic model, value proposition, regulatory and policy challenges of enabling that transition.


Developing the Future Energy Workforce with Integrated Education
Panelists: Monty Alger, Professor of Chemical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University; Sanjay Srinivasan, Head, John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, Professor of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University; Eugene Morgan, Assistant Professor of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University; Eric Marsh, Glenn Professor of Engineering Education, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

In collaboration with energy companies, we have identified technology-driven workforce development as a critical need to be addressed in higher education.  It is our goal to create an integrated learning and innovation model that helps students identify necessary skills for careers in the energy sector, provides personalized learning modules to acquire those skills, utilizes internships at the graduate and undergraduate level to build collaboration with the energy sector, and informs our basic research by creating a market facing platform that facilitates cross-pollination among students, companies, and faculty.


The Dynamics of Energy System Change in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic Region
Organizer: Seth Blumsack

Energy systems are evolving worldwide, in response to changing technologies, costs, and policy initiatives operational reliability, resilience to extreme events and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. How energy system designs respond to these changes poses tremendous opportunities and risks for diverse stakeholders. Managing this changing landscape effectively requires quantifying the risks and opportunities, and identifying strategies and policies that navigate difficult trade-offs.


Embracing The Living Building: The Journey Continues
Organizer: John Bechtel and Yumna Kurdi

Panelists: Joshua Glassman, Sustainable Design Director, Lord Aeck Sargent; Noah Shaltes, Construction Project Manager, P J Dick; Norm Horn, Design+Build Project Manager,  Envinity; Jim Freihaut, Professor of Architectural Engineering, Penn State; Meghan Hoskins, Penn State

A case study of the soon-to-be-completed Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design on the Georgia Tech campus will be presented. The Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech is expected to perform with net positive energy, water, and waste as well as meet all other imperatives for Living Building Challenge 3.1 Certification as mandated by the project goals.  This case study will then be followed by a panel of experts in high-efficiency buildings and Living Building Challenge projects.  We will invite a discussion of the challenges and opportunities for creating a better-built environment here on Penn State’s campuses.


Energy Harvesting-Addressing Green Energy Challenge through Capture of Wasted Ambient Energy
Organizer: Shashank Priya

The ever-growing energy demand in conjunction with environmental concerns such as global warming compels us to continually find cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. Energy is a byproduct of many natural and industrial processes. For example – thermal energy or heat is a byproduct of all mechanical processes, and it is the most common form of wasted ambient energy available. Similarly, the magnetic field is a byproduct of all the electrically driven objects. Mechanical vibrations are available on a variety of industrial platforms ranging from automobiles to human motion. In addition, natural energy sources such as sunlight,  wind, and water flow are ubiquitous in our lives. By harvesting these wasted or naturally available energy sources, a green energy solution to many applications can be invented. The goal of this session is to discuss the advances made in energy harvesting by bringing together leading experts from academia, industry, and government.


Energy Law and Policy
Organizer: Hari Osofsky

As the energy system is in transition, so too is the law and policy. This session will explore some of the key legal drivers that are in transition, such as the move from a centralized energy distribution system to a decentralized system, the integration of renewable energy and the need to ensure reliable energy supplies, and the effort to address greenhouse gas emissions.


Growing Opportunities for Renewable Natural Gas
Organizer: Tom Richard

This session will identify research and policy needs, outreach opportunities, and partnerships for new business development to enable and expand Renewable Natural 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 (RINs) are motivating landfills, farms and other organic waste generators to make and market pipeline grade methane. This year our session format will include an overview of successful business models and new technologies, and then a facilitated audience discussion focused on addressing barriers to this emerging opportunity, including achieving economies of scale for gas separation on mid-sized farms, virtual pipelines for delivering to the natural gas grid, classifying feedstocks to maximize RIN incentives, and future opportunities to monetize RNG as dispatchable renewable energy – competing against batteries rather than solar and wind.


Penn State Renewable Power Purchase Agreements
Organizer: Mike Prinkey and Meghan Hoskins

Panelists: Emilie Wangerman, Senior Director, Business Development, Lightsource BP; Chris Fraga, Founder & CEO, Alternative Energy Development Group & SolarSense LLC; William Layden, Senior Associate & Asset Manager, Cube Hydro; Xiaofeng Liu, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Penn State; Jeffrey Brownson, Associate Professor of Energy & Mineral Engineering

Our goal is to maximize the education and research collaboration opportunities from our recent operational agreements. Come explore the opportunities for new partnerships to leverage the economic, societal, and environmental value of these agreements.


PA Energy Horizons—Visioning our Energy Pathway to 2040
Organizer: Tom Murphy, Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research

Panelists: Denise Brinley, executive director, Governor’s Energy Office; Pam Witmer, vice president, UGI Energy Services; Kevin Sunday, Government Affairs, PA Chamber of Commerce; Bruce Burcat, executive director, Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition

The outcome of a recent state-level energy scenario building process in Pennsylvania illustrates two parallel concepts of what the energy future of the state could look like going forward. Each scenario offers insights, based on economic, social, environmental, and political factors, which might drive us in that direction, and the associated implications of each energy outcome. This session will review the PA Energy Horizons scenarios briefly, then further examine in greater detail, the two common core elements in both, that PA will have increasing amounts of renewables and natural gas in the foreseeable future. A panel will look at the opportunities and challenges we face through 2040, along with discussing likely paradigm shifts in policy.


Pennsylvania Renewable Energy Credit Markets: Developments and Trends
Organizers: Ed Johnstonbaugh, Dan Ciolkosz

This session focuses on the credit market for renewable energy in Pennsylvania.  Fundamental shifts in the credit market, due to legislative and policy changes, are making for exciting prospects in terms of renewable energy credits in Pennsylvania.  Community solar, biofuel, and biomass power all face new possibilities for economic enhancement through the credit market. This session will explore future directions for alternative and renewable energy credits and will discuss the implications and opportunities that this is creating for renewable energy in the commonwealth.


Research Coalition Building Toward Commercial Results
Organizer: Sarma Pisupati

Public domain governmental drivers, from state and federal agencies, will be succinctly presented to the group, followed by Penn State policy items. The capabilities and track record of Penn State will then be presented in areas ranging from basic research to R&D supporting commercial project development. The capabilities presented will include both laboratory and faculty assets. Penn State research supporting commercial project development will include work with commercial Independent Power Projects as well as the design, installation, and operation of modular plant equipment.


Solar Technology for Energy-Efficient Buildings
Organizer: Chris Giebink

Participants: Jacob Mann (SunDirected), Daniel Cunningham (ARPA-E), Greg Pavlak (Penn State)

Our buildings are getting smarter and more energy efficient. From rooftop solar panels to roofs that cool themselves and windows that adapt their transmission of heat and light into a building, there is an ever-expanding number of opportunities to harness the Sun in the quest for zero-energy buildings in the future. Based on input from leaders in industry, government, and academia, this panel discussion will explore some of the emerging technologies and opportunities that will change the way buildings generate their own electricity, light their interior, adjust their thermal load, and manage the interdependence between these functionalities within the next decade.