Session Topics and Abstracts


Envisioning New York’s Clean Energy Future

Janet Joseph, Vice President for Innovation and Strategy, NYSERDA

Abstract: Our economy relies heavily on combustion technologies and is projected to continue to do so in the next decades. Advanced combustion systems characterized by high efficiency and low emissions have the potential to improve energy sustainability. The design of these new systems requires in-depth knowledge of the controlling processes, ranging from chemical processes to turbulent flow phenomena.


Over 80% of our energy comes from technologies that depend on combustion of conventional and alternative fuels. This session is focused on combustion research that will yield tools that can facilitate the design of combustion systems that are characterized by higher energy conversion efficiencies and lower emissions.

A1. Combustion Chemistry Research in Support of Advanced Combustion Technology

Ben Akih-Kumgeh, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University

Abstract: Our economy relies heavily on combustion technologies and is projected to continue to do so in the next decades. Advanced combustion systems characterized by high efficiency and low emissions have the potential to improve energy sustainability. The design of these new systems requires in-depth knowledge of the controlling processes, ranging from chemical processes to turbulent flow phenomena.

In this talk, we will discuss the role of combustion chemistry models in the development of such combustion systems. As a result of the complex molecular processes that need to be considered in such models, they must be calibrated against fundamental experiments on combustion properties such as ignition, flame propagation, and pollutant formation. We highlight ongoing research activities in our laboratory that are focused on characterizing auto ignition properties and quantifying pollutant formation in highly transient combustion process. We show how these results contribute to the goal of using science to engineer clean combustion devices.

A1. Combustor Operability Issues in Low-NOx Gas Turbine Engines

Jacqueline O’Connor, Assistant Professor, Pennsylvania State University

Abstract: Gas turbine engines are a highly efficient source of power for a variety of applications, including electricity generation, aircraft propulsion, and oil well extraction. The number of gas turbines introduced into service is growing each year. For example, according to the US Energy Information Administration, 50% of the new electrical generation capacity in 2013 came from natural-gas fired gas turbines. Gas turbine engines are a preferred power and propulsion solution because they are not only efficient, but can also meet strict emissions regulations. However, significant technical challenges arise during low-emissions, high-efficiency operation. In particular, engine “operability,” being able to operate the engine while meeting all requirements and specifications, becomes a challenge over the wide operating range of these machines. In this talk, we review some key challenges in combustor operability, including issues of flame stabilization and combustion instability. Both technical challenges as well as possible solutions to these operability issues, both traditional and innovative, are addressed for power and propulsion gas turbines.

A1. Technological Challenges and Advances in Forced Ignition Systems

Nathan Peters, PhD Student, Syracuse University

Abstract: Initiating combustion processes by localized deposition of energy is referred to as forced ignition. It is the means by which burning processes are realized in combustion systems such as spark-ignition internal combustion engines and gas turbines. Current systems rely mostly on spark plugs, a technology that has been around for a long time. However, as engine technologies become more advanced, ignition systems must operate reliably in regimes where combustion can be very difficult to initiate and sustain. Some of these challenges are difficult to resolve with conventional spark plugs, prompting the exploration of alternatives. Viable alternative ignition candidates are laser ignition, corona ignition, and microwave discharge. Laser ignition is of particular interest and research is focused on better characterizing the approach. In this talk, we review the principles of forced ignition, their system requirements, and the technological challenges they face. The state of current research on alternative ignition systems will be addressed with particular interest focus on laser ignition. We present some results of ongoing research in our laboratory that is aimed at understanding and controlling the underlying physical processes.



Low energy buildings are more air-tight and highly insulated, but they have less margin for IAQ variations. This session discuss various approaches to improve IAQ through source reduction, ventilation, air cleaning, demand-based predictive controls, while achieving high building energy efficiency.

B1. Integrated IAQ Strategies via Source Control, Ventilation and Air Purification

Jianshun Zhang, Professor, Syracuse University

Abstract: Indoor air pollution can have significant adverse effects on human health, performance and wellbeing because people spend majority of their times indoors at workplaces, homes and transportation environment. This presentation provides an overview of major IAQ problems in buildings, followed by the strategies and technologies for reducing indoor air pollution. It will be focused on capabilities and limitations of source control, ventilation and air purification technologies, and discuss how they can be integrated to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in an energy-efficient and cost-effective manner. Challenges and recommendations for future research will also be presented.

B1. Synergistic Integration of a CO2 and Detection Sensor Network for Healthy and Sustainable Building Operation in a Low Energy Building

Kwang Hoon Han, Assistant Research Professor, Syracuse University

Abstract: The advent of smart sensing network facilitates a new opportunity in the area of indoor air quality and building sustainability, a great source ripe for building energy efficiency and energy/cost savings. The present demonstration study investigated a novel approach to the control of ventilation, air conditioning and lighting, integrated with the use of a smart sensing network, embedded CO2 sensors and environmental system modeling toward a substantial reduction of building-operational energy/cost while providing satisfactory IAQ and thermal comfort. For demonstration, a typical low energy office building (TIEQ at CoE) with multiple zones was used as a testbed, having a relatively high level of nearby traffic pollution. The objectives of the present study were 1) to investigate the beneficial effect of integration of embedded CO2 sensors and a detection-based smart sensing network on the accuracy of occupancy estimation; 2) to monitor the energy benefits of utilizing a smart control module with the integrated smart sensing network in operating existing lighting and HVAC systems; and 3) to examine the change of IAQ and thermal comfort under occupancy-based demand control. A low-cost and highly configurable smart sensing system (POUNCE®: Point of Use Network Controlled Energy management system tailored for small- and medium-sized commercial spaces) was deployed in the field testbed. Two types of actual demonstration tests were performed under similar occupancy patterns and weather conditions; a) Baseline test with a normal building operation complying with the requirements of ASHRAE 62.1-2013, and b) Case study with the smart occupancy-based demand control employed via the integrated smart sensing network. Results showed that the smart use of CO2 measurements with the motion detection network could greatly enhance the accuracy of occupancy estimation. Based on this advancement, the smart sensing approach could save up to 45% of fan electricity and up to 36.5% of room cooling/heating energy of the building, compared with the normal building operation. During the case study, the smart sensing approach was observed to provide a satisfactory or a similar level of IAQ and thermal comfort (compared with the normal operation) when each individual zone was occupied.

B1. Getting to Net-zero without Stinkin’ up the Joint: Long Term Air Quality Monitoring in a Net-zero Energy Home

Dustin Poppendieck, Environmental Engineer, NIST

Abstract: The design of net-zero energy homes requires careful balance of energy requirements for ventilation and the need to provide quality indoor air environments. Too much ventilation and it becomes difficult to achieve a net-zero energy home; too little ventilation and indoor airborne chemical concentrations can rise to unacceptable levels. In addition to providing adequate ventilation for contaminant control, one can also specify a home be constructed with low emitting interior products. The NIST Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility was constructed in part to evaluate whether low emitting interior product specifications combined with proper ventilation can achieve a quality indoor air environment while still achieving net-zero energy goals. This presentation will highlight the design and performance of the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility, long term air quality monitoring results, the impacts of temperature and ventilation on the measured chemical concentrations, and flame retardant migration within the home.



Public infrastructure in older urban neighborhoods includes both urgently needed repairs and innovative additions, all within public rights-of-way, spaces crowded above and below ground and home to many competing uses, such as all-weather transportation and street life. Dialogue and synergy between these many interests are crucial to financially feasible plans to make urban neighborhoods vibrant and attractive places to live and work.

C1. Cultivating Perception of Urban Infrastructure

Susan Dieterlen, Research Assistant Professor, Syracuse University

Abstract: Both the opportunities and difficulties of adding new infrastructure to public rights-of-way are compounded by the overlapping uses and functions of these spaces. This presentation considers the multiple functions of urban street corridors within urban design, including circulation for different kinds of traffic, and social purposes such as sense of place. We then focus on public perception of infrastructure in such urban corridors, with an overview of established relevant research from landscape preference and perception. The presentation ends with a selection of methods for applying this research to making infrastructural improvements visible to the public.

C1. Urban Water Management: Can Green Infrastructure Help?

Cliff Davidson, Thomas C. and Colleen L. Wilmot Professor of Engineering,, Syracuse University

Abstract: The 2013 report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers for infrastructure in the U.S. was not good news. The overall grade of D+ had very few bright spots, and grades for infrastructure related to energy, transit, wastewater, and drinking water were D+, D, D, and D, respectively. Updates to the 2013 report show that there has been little improvement over the past two years. This is, of course, no surprise. The U.S. EPA had previously called attention to Combined-Sewer Overflows in 770 of our urban areas, and local authorities in rust belt cities have been coping with increased flooding of streets and buildings during short, intense rainfalls that have become more common. Can Green Infrastructure help these problems?

In this presentation, we take a look at what green infrastructure is, what it can do, and what it can’t do for water management in cities. We then consider one type of green infrastructure as an example, namely green roofs on urban buildings, and examine green roof data from sites around the U.S. and abroad. We discuss the amount of water prevented from entering the combined sewer system for some of these sites. Finally we summarize current understanding of green roof functions and discuss its implications for urban water management.

C1. Infrastructure Innovation in Syracuse

Sam Edelstein, Analytics Coordinator, Office of Innovation for the City of Syracuse

Abstract: In May of this year, the City of Syracuse launched the Office of Innovation thanks to a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. This office is charged with finding innovative solutions to problems that plague the city. This year, the focus is infrastructure. This presentation will focus first on the problems the Office of Innovation has seen, then the places things are going well, and finally the opportunities to improve infrastructure in the city and move the city forward. This presentation will also talk about how using data driven methods to fix infrastructure issues is critical, but sometimes very difficult.



The SUNY-ESF Biofuels Pilot Plant at SyracuseCoE can produce next generation bio-based fuels derived from renewable resources such as locally grown woody feedstocks including planation-grown willow, switchgrass, and forest-based biomass. This session will describe the capabilities of the Biofuels Pilot Plant and the experiences of current users.

A2. New Forrest Economy (and The Role the SUNY-ESF Biofuels Pilot Plan)

Tom Amidon, Professor, SUNY-ESF

A2. Using the SUNY-ESF Biofuels Pilot Plant: The Path Forward

Bhavin Bhayani, President, Avatar Sustainable Technologies

A2. 800L Biofuels Fermenter Capabilities

Susuma Ikuta, Visiting Professor, SUNY-ESF



A new paradigm in building HVAC is emerging in which individual building occupants are given the means to condition their personal micro environment via the use of distributed personal environmental control systems (PECS) to improve occupant satisfaction and decrease energy consumption. This session includes three papers addressing the benefits and challenges of using PECS in commercial buildings.

B2. Personalized Environmental Control Systems: PECS

Ezzat Khalifa, NYSTAR Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University

Abstract: Buildings account for nearly 40% of the US annual energy consumption, much of which is for HVAC equipment. Research by the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley indicates that over 20% of the US energy used for HVAC could be saved if the thermostat set-point range is widened by ±4°F in the summer and winter respectively. However, doing so will result in increased thermal dissatisfaction among the building occupants and a possible loss of productivity. Most of these energy savings can be realized if local thermal management systems (LTMS) are employed to provide a comfortable thermal environment in the occupant’s personal micro environment. The US DOE estimates that if such LTMS are used widely across the US, nearly 15% of the energy used for building HVAC could be saved. This is equivalent to an annual savings of 1.8 quads (1015 Btu). In this presentation, we discuss the benefits and challenges in implementing LTMS in commercial office buildings and introduce a novel concept for doing so – the micro environmental control system.

B2. Distributed Demand-controlled Ventilation

Dustin Demetriou, Development Engineer, IBM

Abstract: Conventional ventilation systems, designed according to ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2004 design rate procedure, are incapable of providing control over individual environments or adjusting fresh air supply based on the dynamic occupancy of an office building. In this presentation we show that significant improvements in IAQ and energy efficiency can be achieved by providing required amounts of fresh air directly to the individual office spaces through distributed demand-controlled ventilation (DDCV). In DDCV, fresh air is provided to each micro-environment (e.g., office or cubicle) based on input from distributed sensors (CO2, VOC, etc) or intelligent scheduling techniques to provide individual control over IAQ. By implementing CO2-DDCV in a model office building, using a proportional-integral control strategy without optimization, a reduction in both occupant CO2 exposure and outdoor air intake (energy consumption), compared to conventional ventilation systems, is achieved.

B2. Energy and Comfort Optimization in Occupant-controlled Offices

Can Isik, Professor, Syracuse University

Abstract: In this presentation we show how optimization can result in improving occupant thermal comfort in office buildings without increasing energy consumption, and generalize the optimization results with an intelligent approximation system. Our approach is to improve thermal comfort by giving people an ability to adjust their local environments, which has been called “Have It Your Way” (HIYW). One representation of existing current systems, which provide the same temperature to everyone “One Size Fits All” (OSFA), has been used as a base line. By using a nonlinear programming approach, improved thermal comfort has been achieved without increasing energy consumption, even possibly saving energy consumption while allowing individuals to control their environment.



This session will discuss the principles of designing built environments that promote human-powered mobility as a clean and efficient mode of transportation. It will also present the current status and future trajectories of these forms of transportation in the context of the City of Syracuse.

C2. Introduction to Placemaking

Heather Schroeder, Economic Development Program Manager, Downtown Committee of Syracuse

The re-opening of the historic Hotel Syracuse next summer poses new design challenges for Syracuse’s streetscape: How will Syracuse provide a welcoming connection between the official Convention Center Hotel and the OnCenter? How can we shape visitors’ first impressions of Syracuse – and keep them coming back? The Downtown Committee of Syracuse leads local experts through a discussion on tourism, design, and placemaking, including examples from cities that have turned desolate blocks into destinations. In this session, the concept of placemaking will be introduced. The streetscapes of Harrison and Warren Streets will be examined to see how redesign could provide a comfortable and exciting outdoor pedestrian experience – even in the worst winter weather.    Streetscapes will be examined to understand what shapes the pedestrian experience and what compels people to keep walking, versus turn away/choose another route.

C2. The Visitor Experience

David Holder, President, Visit Syracuse

This session will provide an overview of basic requirements/amenities for visitors. Examples from other convention districts will show what visitors want in the experience. These topics will provide the basis for a discussion about the challenges and opportunities for Visit Syracuse.

C2. Conceptual Design

Steve Breitzka, Managing Landscape Architect, Environmental Design & Research, D.P.C.

A conceptual design for Harrison Street will be presented, including a discussion of the design process.

C2. Designing for Pedestrian Comfort

Tarek Rakha, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University School of Architecture

In the United States, a combination of policies and market forces over the last 70 years have encouraged the development of an automobile-centric lifestyle that has increased causes hazardous airborne pollution and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, as well as wasting non-renewable energy and financial resources on fuel and maintenance. In addition, even though an intended benefit of automobiles was to save time and effort in getting from one point to another, driving can waste time through traffic congestion in urban areas, which leads to less productivity and negative economic impacts along with an increase in urban noise pollution. With this myriad of undesirable effects caused by automobile-dependency, practices of sustainable urban transportation have shifted focus back to sustainable alternatives, including public transport and human-powered transportation. Adopting walking and biking in personal mobility counters most, if not all, negative effects of being car-centric, with the addition of contributing to better human health. This session will discuss the principles of designing built environments that promote human-powered mobility as a clean and efficient mode of transportation. An overview of nation-wide emerging frontiers for planning and design of sustainable urban mobility will be discussed.

SESSION A3. Energy-Efficient, Environmentally-Friendly Thermochemical Systems

Introduction of efficient and environmentally-friendly systems into the heating and/or power generation applications has an enormous impact on fuel savings and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. This session discusses the research, development and demonstration of these systems and a common challenge of dealing with them.

A3. Resilient Residential Furnace/ Boiler with Flame-assisted Fuel Cell (RRF FFC)

Ryan Milcarek, PhD Student, Syracuse University

Abstract: Fuel cells have been examined, tested and discussed for years to assess their role in future power generation. However, few systems have actually been implemented partially because of sealing challenges, slow start-up and complex thermal management and fuel processing. A novel furnace system based on a flame-assisted fuel cell is proposed that combines the thermal management and fuel processing systems by utilizing fuel-rich combustion. The flame-assisted fuel cell furnace has the additional advantage of being a micro-combined heat and power system, which can produce electricity for homes or businesses, providing resilience during power disruption while still providing heat. A micro-tubular solid oxide fuel cell achieved a significant performance of 430 while operating in a model fuel-rich exhaust stream.

A3. Hydronic Design and Control Strategies for Condensing Boilers

Shaun Turner, Applications Engineer, Fulton Heating Solutions

Abstract: Hydronic condensing boilers offer an opportunity for enhanced thermal efficiency when compared to conventional non-condensing boilers. Condensing boilers utilize the latent heat of condensation in the flue gases to achieve thermal efficiencies as high as 99%. How these types of boilers are operated and the system they are installed in can directly affect the boilers ability to achieve these higher efficiencies. This presentation will first review traditional primary secondary flow designs leading to a further discussion of variable primary flow designs and the many benefits associated with this type of design when applied to hydronic condensing boilers.

A3. Praxair’s Ceramic Membrane based Modular Syngas Technology

Ines Stuckert, Development Specialist, Praxair

Abstract: Reactively-driven oxygen transport membranes (OTM) that utilize oxygen ion and electron-conducting ceramic materials are a breakthrough technology for high-temperature processes, such as chemicals and liquid fuels production and oxyfuel combustion. OTM reformers can efficiently convert abundant US natural gas reserves to mixtures of hydrogen and carbon monoxide (known as syngas) to make higher value products.

Praxair’s OTM technology is a step-change process intensification of the front end of a gas to liquids cycle, combining the oxygen supply, reforming, and syngas compression in one compact step. The OTM system is modular and scalable down to very small systems without losing its capital cost and operating efficiency advantages. Combined with an F-T train, the OTM based GTL system can produce liquid fuels with a 30% lower greenhouse gas footprint compared to conventional technologies.

Combustion applications in manufacturing and process plants that may be required to control carbon dioxide emissions could also benefit from commercialization of OTM. Longer term, OTM could be incorporated into an advanced power cycle for a coal-fired power plant with carbon capture and storage.



Energy costs are the fastest-rising expense for today’s data centers. This session will explore innovative data center technologies and best practices to increase energy efficiency for the growing market.

B3. Liquid Cooling Performance Capabilities, Implementation and Emerging Data Center Trends

Dustin Demetriou, Development Engineer, IBM

Abstract: IT performance and density demands continue to drive improvements in required cooling technologies in the data center. Liquid cooling has been successfully deployed for many years where required to meet customer workload and density demands. The thermal performance capability of liquid cooling creates the opportunity to trade off density, performance and total cost of ownership in ways not possible with air cooling. This presentation will provide an introduction to liquid cooled IT equipment and address the module level thermal performance and density advantages of liquid cooling over air cooling. It will also bridge the gap between the IT equipment and the data center facility by focusing on the rack and facility energy efficiency advantages of liquid cooling.

B3. Ramifications of Containment Solution on IT Availability in Data Centers

Husam Alissa, PhD Student, Binghamton University

Abstract: Containment configurations are considered to be a key cooling solution in the data center industry today. Considerable savings in energy are the expected outcome of segregation between hot and cold air regions. These savings are attributed to the lower cooling load demanded from the CRAH (Computer Room Air Handler) /Chiller system and possible operation at more elevated temperatures. Nevertheless, adopting containment changes the way in which the IT equipment behaves against increased impedance inside the contained volume. In a traditional open air data center, each server, storage, and switch system (IT component) has an unlimited supply of low impedance airflow through the rack covers from the room. When containment is applied, the supply of low impedance air is limited, given the different variations in the dynamic data center environment. This implies that updates are required to today’s specifications and thermal compliance regulations for IT when deployed in containment.

B3. CRAH Bypass in Contained-Aisle, Air-cooled Data Centers

Ezzat Khalifa, NYSTAR Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University

Abstract: The cooling air temperature entering computer servers in open-aisle air-cooled data centers varies widely from location to location owing to the uncontrolled recirculation of hot exhaust air back to the server inlets. As a result, the cooling air must be supplied at an inefficient cold temperature to ensure that the servers receiving the warmest air do not exceed the recommended maximum operating temperature, typically 27°C. By containing either the cold or the hot aisle, hot air recirculation is prevented and all the servers in the same aisle receive air at a uniform temperature, allowing the air to be supplied near the maximum allowable limit and decreasing the need for chilled water to cool the air. While this will reduce chiller power, it will also necessitate that 100% of the server air flow be supplied by the computer room air handler (CRAH). Because CRAH fans account for a large fraction of cooling power usage, increasing the CRAH air flow could offset the chiller power savings. In this presentation, a CRAH bypass method that reduces the combined power consumption of the chiller and the CRAH fans is introduced and its benefits assessed.

B3. Powering Data Centers of the Future

Roger Schmidt, Traugott Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University

Abstract: With electrical cost increasing in operating data centers, more unique and cost effective ways of powering data centers are being deployed.   Several of these technologies will be explored including fuel cells, biomass, solar, etc.



As the use of renewable energy generation increases, the power grid has experienced several challenges to integrate these new resources. This panel will discuss the challenges and solutions from the perspective of the market, policy factors, and engineering needs.

C3. Utility Adoption of Smart Grid Technologies and Big Data

Jason Dedrick, Professor, Syracuse University

C3. Distribution System Management via Demand Response

Pete Cappers, Research Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

C3. Regulatory Issues Raised by the Changing Relationship Between the Distribution System and the Bulk Power Grid

Rebecca Slayton, Assistant Professor, Cornell University

C3. Impacts of Distributed Renewables on the Bulk Power System

Sara Eftekharnejad, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University