Prof. Jessica Trancik

Professor of Engineering Systems

Primary DLC

Institute for Data, Systems and Society (IDSS)

MIT Room: E17-447


Amy Kaczur

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Electricity and Transportation
Solar Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies
Environmental Impacts and Costs of Energy Technologies

Research Summary

In order to stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere within a target range of ~450-550 parts per million, our energy supply infrastructure will need to approach zero carbon intensity targets over the next 50 years. My research focuses on enabling this transition, by developing our understanding of the physical limits and dynamics of energy systems. I am developing a data-driven framework for comparing different energy technologies based on empirical trends, performance limits, and natural resource limitations, and where possible determining design principles that can be applied to the development of a variety of technologies. Several projects explore technological solutions based on nanoengineering. I use tools from materials science and engineering systems analysis.

Ongoing research involves analyzing empirical data to characterize the rates of development and descriptive functional forms of technology performance curves, and combining this with system modeling to study the effect of engineering design characteristics such as scale and modularity on rates of development of energy technologies. Another set of projects focus on performance limits and scalability of nanostructured energy conversion devices, including solar cells, fuel cells and batteries. All projects feed into the development of a framework for studying the cost and carbon trajectories for energy technologies, and exploring a portfolio of possible near-zero carbon energy technology options for the coming decades.

Recent Work