New York University
To establish a Center for Decarbonizing Chemical Manufacturing Using Sustainable Electrification (DC-MUSE) and help diversify the next generation of scholars involved in industrial decarbonization
Though industrial processes present many opportunities for decarbonization, realizing these opportunities has historically been challenging. Many sectors—including manufacturing, construction, and chemicals production—have, until recently, simply lacked low-carbon alternatives to current practices. Scholarly work is made more difficult by the lack of interdisciplinary knowledge and connections to networks needed to understand the complex interplay of technology, market structure, supply chains, and industrial organization in any sector. Andre Taylor at New York University is creating a new multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research effort addressing an important aspect of industrial decarbonization: chemical production. Working with Elizabeth Biddinger at the City College of New York, Taylor will establish a Center for Decarbonizing Chemical Manufacturing Using Sustainable Electrification (called DC-MUSE) and has assembled a team of scholars spanning chemical engineering, materials science, modeling, computation, and economic analysis across seven universities. The initial research focus will be decarbonizing ethylene manufacturing, which currently requires burning large amounts of fossil fuels to achieve the high input heat necessary for the chemical reactions that produce ethylene. Ethylene is an important initial target because it is a key ingredient in manufacturing, including in plastics, textiles, and other synthetic materials. The team will explore two alternative processes for generating ethylene that do not require high input heat (and, therefore, burning fossil fuels), then use this information to understand how low-carbon chemical plants might integrate with the grid. This grant will support a manager role for the center who will help coordinate activities among the network and build connections with stakeholders in government and industry.