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The NYSTAR Centers for Advanced Technology (CAT) program has an outstanding track record in terms of overall economic impact, job creation, and growth of small companies. Since 2000, New York state's $109 million investment to all CATs has yielded a positive total economic impact of over $4B, including

  • over 5,000 jobs created or retained
  • over $1.6B in increased sales by company partners
  • $700M in company cost savings

The return for each dollar invested in the CATs program is substantial and NYSTAR CATs have worked with over 500 companies across the state.

The Center for Future Energy Systems (CFES) has participated directly in this return on investment while making significant contributions to fundamental and applied research in renewable energy and energy conversion systems:


CFES currently employs 5 staff and over 30 researchers in numerous important energy projects.

Applied Research

CFES works with key industry partners to develop commercially viable energy technologies and processes. The CFES projects include low cost-high efficiency photovoltaic technologies, compound semiconductor materials, advanced lighting sources, smart lighting and displays, intelligent building architectures, wind turbine performance enhancement, fuel cell testing and characterization, energy materials for energy storage and thermoelectric technologies, and distributed generation test bed for smart grid testing.  In each of the research areas covered by the CFES there is a focus on cutting edge research in energy materials development, device fabrication, device and materials characterization and system integration and design.


In addition to collaborations with energy research laboratories across the country, CFES engages all of the laboratory facilities at RPI. We recently upgraded facilities in a new Energy Materials and Devices Laboratory (EMDL) which consists of a suite of tools for fabricating, processing, characterizing and testing a variety of materials and device structures for new energy applications. Other test facilities include micro-and nano-fabrication labs, wind tunnel, solid oxide and proton exchange fuel cell test stands, thin films and nanostructures lab.

Education and Outreach

CFES supports NSF training and education programs like the GK-12, IGERT and Fuel Cell Training as well as curriculum outreach with Hudson Valley Community College and Siena College in the Capital Region, New York.

CFES also supports multiple energy and sustainability initiatives at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's campus and in the local community of Troy, NY, including:


  • 46 kW installation of fixed photovoltaic (PV) system on the Houston Fieldhouse – new live data acquisition package -
  • 4 kW fixed and sun tracking system installed on East Campus Athletic complex
  • Distributed Generation Test Bed installation in Jonsson Engineering
  • 10 kW three blade wind turbine installed on the east side of campus. Power is transmitted to the campus power grid. New data acquisition package – Spring 09


  • Rensselaer is currently in the process of reviewing design and installation of a pilot biodiesel processing facility that will convert the waste cooking oil from the Dining Halls into a useable campus fuel

Fuel Cells

  • A group of RPI students and an NSF IGERT Fellow have organized a demonstration trip down the Hudson River in New York using a ship outfitted with hydrogen fuel cells.

Business Outreach

This includes the continued development of NYS company ties in key technology areas and working with local and regional economic development groups to assist their efforts. We also work closely with the Regional Technology Development Centers (RTDC) who cultivate the growth of high-tech industry and are chartered to assist technology commercialization, product development and incubator management. The Center also participates in key state and national energy symposia and conferences.

Support of National Energy Priorities

The Center is addressing many of the needs outlined by DOE Secretary Chu and the New Energy for America platform. (North American Clean Energy Jan/Feb 2009):

  • US Commitment to Renewable Energy Sources The US goal is to Increase renewable energy to 10% by 2012 and 25% by 2025 as well as increase the mix of biofuels to 60 billion gallons. The Center supports projects in photovoltaic solar cells, wind and biomass.
  • Support of Plug-In Hybrid Technology and Infrastructure The US goal is to have 1 million vehicles by 2015 and increase fuel economy mandates. CFES will work with NY BEST battery consortia to utilize the upstate resources that will conduct the research, develop and manufacture the advanced battery and energy storage technologies that are needed to power plug-in hybrids.
  • Improved Energy Efficiency in Buildings and Appliances The US goal is to reduce demand by 15% and increase building efficiency by 40% within 5 years. CFES work in solid state lighting and building integrated wind and photovoltaic architectures with the RPI Center for Architectural Science and Ecology (CASE) are excellent platforms that address the technology issues in these areas.
  • Improved Electrical Grid. The US goal is to establish "Smart" grid demonstration sites to facilitate new practices and new technologies. The Distributed Generation (DG) Test Bed CAT development project awarded to Rensselaer by NYSTAR addresses the study of the grid under high DG penetration conditions and will be an excellent platform to study new smart sensor technologies in a micro-grid setting. 

Continual Advancement of Priorities

CFES continues to work closely with NYSTAR and NYSERDA state agencies and collaborate with other academic institutions and Brookhaven National Lab to pool the best available resources for new grant opportunities. A good example is the NY BEST consortium which will facilitate a cluster of advanced battery/energy storage research capabilities and industrial strengths that will attract funding programs and support technology transfer for batteries and super-capacitors. Likewise CFES is supporting DOE Investment Grant and Demonstration Projects and NYS Smart Grid Workforce Training to identify stakeholder expertise and attract industrial support for new projects and funding. 


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