UNF and JEA celebrate grand opening of the JEA Sustainable Solutions Lab

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The University of North Florida School of Engineering and JEA today celebrated the grand opening of the JEA Sustainable Solutions Lab. Through a five-year financial commitment, JEA will provide UNF undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to research clean and renewable energy technology.

UNF President Moez Limayem and JEA Chief Operating Officer Raynetta Curry Marshall delivered remarks before cutting the ribbon on the new lab. During a tour of the lab, students discussed projects they have been working on. Displays at the lab included:

  • A small-scale (2 kW Solar PV), proof-of-concept microgrid solar panel system that is operational
  • A mid-size (40 kW), demonstration microgrid solar panel system that is being installed
  • Educational laboratory hardware, including Solar Photovoltaic, Solar Thermal and Internal Combustion Engines, that students operate and subsequently analyze the resulting data to determine critical performance parameters, such as maximum power and overall efficiency
  • Hydrogen-fueled, fuel cell-powered golf cart and an Autonomous Golf Ball Retriever Cart
  • Green Transportation/Autonomous Vehicle-related projects, including a Fuel Cell Bus project and a proposed UNF Green Bus Shuttle project
  • Research investigating how to produce hydrogen from non-carbon sources

JEA and UNF share a common goal of ensuring a growing pipeline of engineers, scientists and other industry professionals with the knowledge and experience to contribute to the economic development of Northeast Florida. The lab will serve as a hub for research to develop sustainable solutions for JEA and a variety of industries.

“We are so excited about this renewed collaboration with JEA to create this Sustainable Solutions Lab,” Limayem said. “JEA’s support will help our students get the hands-on experience they need to make an impact in areas related to water sustainability and clean and renewable energy. This is the kind of mutually beneficial relationship that not only helps our local partners but also gives our students incredible experience before they graduate.”

As JEA prepares for a more sustainable and distributed energy future, collaborations like these are critical to developing a workforce prepared to meet the community’s energy and water needs.

“This is a win-win for JEA and UNF. As students work on solutions to sustainability challenges, JEA will learn from their research,” JEA Managing Director and CEO Jay Stowe said. “And our entire community will benefit as well, as this joint effort will establish a pipeline of talented professionals ready to contribute to our clean energy goals for Northeast Florida.”

JEA made a donation in 2001, establishing the Clean and Renewable Energy Lab at UNF. That gift created one of the most successful research labs in UNF history that has resulted in more than $18 million of research. The JEA Sustainable Solutions Lab is an updated iteration of that original lab. To date, more than 15 graduate students and 100 undergraduate students have participated in research and educational projects as part of the UNF and JEA collaboration.

Michelle Thibodeau

Michelle Thibodeau, News 104.5 WOKV

Michelle Thibodeau is WOKV's morning traffic and news reporter.