Power and Energy Research

NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research

The Naval Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence (NEPTUNE) pilot program was established by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), with funding from ONR, to provide professional education and development for the military community through participation in university basic research projects. Purdue was chosen to be a lead university in the NEPTUNE pilot because of it’s exceptional basic science and engineering research capabilities and it’s commitment to providing educational opportunities to current, former and future members of the military. 

Under the program, Purdue’s NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research aims to deliver new domain experts with the following characteristics: deep knowledge base in an energy-related discipline; ability to work in an interdisciplinary “team science” environment; mirroring societal diversity; and prior exposure to Navy culture. Navy personnel, ROTC students and veterans will be engaged to participate in one of seven energy-related research projects supporting a total of 13 graduate students, one post-doctoral, and 12 undergraduate students. The NEPTUNE cohort of early career scientists will also engage in activities that showcase the NEPTUNE program and deepen Navy-Purdue linkages.

Purdue University maintains numerous multidisciplinary defense-related partnerships supporting basic science and engineering research. The U.S. Department of the Navy and Purdue University, in 2014, signed a statement of cooperation (read more), agreeing to work together to convert up to half of the Navy and Marine Corps' energy consumption to alternative sources, including biofuels, by 2020. The NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research will leverage these existing partnerships, and programs such as the Purdue Military Research Initiative to identify NEPTUNE early career scientists. The program is funded for $2 million over 2 years by the Office of Naval Research.

Power and Energy Research Opportunities for Veterans

Contact: Dave Hankins (dhankins@purdue.edu; 765-494-9816)


NEPTUNE Summer Research Projects
Summer 2018

1)      Engineered Surface Wettability for Enhanced Boiling Heat Transport (Dr. Justin Weibel). 

Extreme heat fluxes must be dissipated in the next-generation military electronics systems to prevent the deterioration of electrical performance and reliability at high temperatures. Efficient thermal management of electronics is also critical to operation of electrified vehicles, renewable energy technologies, data centers, and other computational systems. Your internship in the NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research will explore fundamental issues related to the development of novel techniques for high-performance heat removal from compact spaces through combined experimental and modeling approaches.  Our current project is related to the understanding of surface wettability on boiling process. This research will enable the development of improved thermal management technologies, and will have broader impacts on widespread energy production processes where liquid-to-vapor phase change is an energy transfer process.

Preferred academic backgrounds include: Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, or Chemical Engineering.


2)      Low Cost Catalyst for Portable Hydrogen Generation and On-demand Power (Dr. Timothee Pourpoint). 

Our armed forces can be wounded or killed in battle because of the weight and unwieldiness of the batteries they carry. Our objectives are to provide Marines with a highly reliable way to recharge their common 3.1 lb batteries with a system weighing less than 1 lb under storage and the ability to trigger that system with nearly any water source. By the end of the 3-year effort, and with our industrial partner’s expertise with Special Forces equipment, our goal is to have a field-ready system. Additional Navy and commercial sector opportunities, including for emergency first responders, cell phone emergency power, and recreational use, are also of great interest to the team. The development of the Portable Hydrogen Generation system into a field ready system and the characterization of the acid catalyzed hydrolysis of ammonia borane is a great opportunity to develop unique skill sets in chemistry, chemical engineering, and particularly in the upcoming three years, fuel cell technologies, mechanical engineering and design.

Preferred academic backgrounds include: Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, or Chemical Engineering.


3)      Laser assisted large-scale manufacturing of nano-architectured composites for high energy density and high power output Li-ion batteries (Dr. Gary Cheng and Dr. Kejie Zhao). Cadet/Midshipman and veterans will work with the team to  design and fabricate nano-architectured nanocomposites for high-performance Li-ion batteries.   Researchers will be trained the interdisciplinary skills of large-scale material processing, electrochemical characterization, in-situ experimentation, finite element modeling, and quantum-mechanics/molecular dynamics simulations.The research will address manufacturing challenges of simultaneously improving the mechanical reliability and electrochemical performance of electrode for Li-Ion battery. 

Candidates with Science, Engineering, and Technology background are preferred. Valuable research experience is guaranteed and competitive wage will be paid. 


4)      Battery Electrode Synthesis, Testing, Safety and in situ Diagnostics (Tom Adams/Corey Love/Vilas Pol/Vikas Tomar).

Cadet-Midshipman will work with an interdisciplinary team with expertise in lithium ion battery manufacturing, in-situ nanomechanical testing, and battery health management. Focus of the summer study is on hands-on-training in manufacturing of energy devices, hands-on-training in in-situ chemical and mechanical diagnostics, and device performance analysis. Cadet/Midshipman will be exposed to a variety of spectroscopic measurements and electron microscopy measurement techniques. Exposure also includes training in chemical handing of new types of energy materials and develop of new processing methods.

Preferred academic backgrounds include:  Mechanical Engineering + Systems Engineering Mechanics; Chemistry; Chemical Engineering; Physics; Nuclear Engineering; Aeronautical Engineering; Astronautical Engineering + Space Ops.


5)      Correlating chemical composition of aviation fuel to physical and chemical properties and performance for the rational development of alternative fuels (Dr. Hilkka Kenttämaa, Dr. Gozdem Kilaz and Dr. Rodney Trice).

Replacing petroleum-derived fuels with resilient fuels has reached national priority status. To reach this goal, it is imperative that the physical and chemical properties of resilient fuels are comparable to those of petroleum-derived fuels. These properties are dictated by the fuel’s chemical composition. Our current goals are to identify and quantify compounds present in different fuels by using several analytical instruments (i.e., GCxGC/(EI)TOF MS). Our group uses this vital information to predict how the chemical composition of new, resilient fuels will influence their physical and chemical properties and the overall performance of an aircraft. For example, we have developed a testing rig to explore how aromatic compounds in fuel influence the propensity to swell o-ring seals in fuel circulation systems of an aircraft. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of projects in our group. Such projects include, but are not limited to a) determination how mixtures of aromatic compounds influence o-ring swelling, b) testing complete tensile strength of o-ring seals immersed in fuel samples c) measuring physical and chemical properties (i.e., density, freezing point) of surrogate mixtures, d) creating a database to correlate fuel chemical composition with properties, e) using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify and quantify compounds present in fuel samples and f) study the effects of bioimpurities on ceramic thermally cycled surfaces. Students will be trained and mentored in projects they are interested in so no experience in projects mentioned above is required.

Preferred academic backgrounds include: Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Aviation Technology, Aeronautical Engineering.  


6)      Beta-gallium oxide for naval RF power electronics applications (Prof. Peide D. Ye and Prof. Peter Bermel, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center).

With increasing interest in electrical drive for vehicles, plus an increasing array of electronic devices, power electronics now play an important role in many technologies. While new power electronic materials such as gallium nitride have recently emerged, another class of materials, known as ultra-wide bandgap semiconductors, have potential for even higher power conversion efficiencies and speeds. One specific candidate material is known as beta-gallium oxide. In this project, we will study the properties of this material, particularly with respect to its surface. While certain techniques for improving performance have been built and tested by our group, we will use complementary techniques to explore a broader range of possibilities. If successful, this effort may lead to a major improvement in DoD electronic systems, including radars and communication, electrical drives, plus navigation and munition electronics.

Preferred academic backgrounds are in Electrical Engineering, Physics, or Mechanical Engineering, with particular emphasis on semiconductor devices and materials.

Research and Development Team

Tom Adams profile picture

Tom Adams

Peter Bermel profile picture

Peter Bermel

Electrical and Computer Engineering
solar photovoltaics; Thermophotovoltaics; Optics for energy
Gary Cheng profile picture

Gary Cheng

Industrial Engineering
Hilkka Kenttamaa profile picture

Hilkka Kenttamaa

Plug-and-play intelligent buildings; Efficient energy and comfort delivery building systems; Model-predictive control; Smart-building-grid interactions; Human-centered building automation
Gozdem Kilaz profile picture

Gozdem Kilaz

School of Engineering Technology
Alternative aviation fuels
Vilas Pol profile picture

Vilas Pol

Chemical Engineering
Materials synthesis; Electrochemistry of Li-ion and Li-S batteries
Timothee Pourpoint profile picture

Timothee Pourpoint

Aeronautics and Astronautics
Thermal properties of batteries; Ceramic matrix composites; Hydrogen generation & storage
Vikas Tomar profile picture

Vikas Tomar

Aeronautics and Astronautics
Battery safety sensors, Nanomechanical Raman Spectroscopy; In-Situ Impact Testing; Battery Materials
Rodney Trice profile picture

Rodney Trice

Materials Engineering
Justin Weibel profile picture

Justin Weibel

Mechanical Engineering
Peide Ye profile picture

Peide Ye

Electrical and Computer Eng
Kejie Zhao profile picture

Kejie Zhao

Mechanical Engineering
Mechanics and Material Chemistry of Li-ion Batteries

Administrative Team

Eric Dietz profile picture

Eric Dietz

Computer and Information Technology
Smart Grid; Batteries
David Hankins profile picture

David Hankins

College Of Engr Admin And Engr Exp Sta
Maureen Mccann profile picture

Maureen Mccann

Biological Sciences
Plant cell and molecular biology
Pankaj Sharma profile picture

Pankaj Sharma

Agricultural And Biological Engineering