hero image
Edward Rubin - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Edward Rubin

Professor Emeritus | Carnegie Mellon University


Throughout his career, Edward Rubin has accumulated outstanding achievements in engineering research, education, and public service.


Edward Rubin is a professor emeritus of the Departments of Engineering and Public Policy and Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Rubin was a founding member of the Engineering and Public Policy Department and founding director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies and the Environmental Institute.

Rubin is a Fellow Member of ASME, recipient of the Carnegie Mellon University Distinguished Professor of Engineering Award for outstanding achievements in engineering research, education, and public service, and recipient of the AWMA Lyman A. Ripperton Award for distinguished achievements as an educator. He has served on advisory committees to various state and federal government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of California Energy Commission, Air Resources Board, and Public Utility Commission. He is a National Associate member of the National Academies and serves regularly on its boards and study committees. Among his international activities, he was a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize), an advisor to the Alberta Energy Ministry of Canada, and a board member of the UK CCS Research Centre.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Integrated Assessments

Cimate Change Mitigation Technologies

Carbon Capture

Clean Power Systems

Environmental Engineering

Engineering Research

Sequestration Technologies

Government Policies

Media Appearances (4)

Beef and beer are the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in Pittsburgh’s food system, says study

NEXTpittsburgh  online


“What we tried to do for the first time is to put together an overall picture to give policymakers an idea of where the biggest impacts are, and where actions to change the system could be beneficial,” says Ed Rubin, a professor of engineering and public policy at CMU and faculty advisor for the project.

view more

What are fossil fuels?

NBC News  online


“Fossil fuels currently supply roughly 80 to 85 percent of the world’s energy,” says Edward Rubin, professor of environmental engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “They are critically important for everything we do and value as individuals and as a society — all of which need a source of energy.”

view more

Carbon Capture: Boon or Boondoggle?

U.S. News  online


"In general, air capture and storage on a meaningful scale is a far tougher problem than CO2 capture at power plants and industrial facilities," says Edward Rubin, an environmental engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. "Much harder to find the needle in a haystack that's 300 times bigger – hence, much more costly."

view more

Reducing CO2 Emissions Could Help Power Plants Use Less Water

Carnegie Mellon University  online


Different power plants use water to different degrees. Renewables, for example, such as wind and solar energy, use no water, while coal and nuclear use quite a bit of water for cooling. Having a mixed fleet of power sources mitigates high water use in power, but reducing reliance on coal is one of the most prominent variables in the equation. Zhai and Rubin have found that retiring coal plants in exchange for natural gas and renewable energy sources often reduces water withdrawal.

view more






Keynote Talk: Ed Rubin on Global Climate Change: Impacts, Challenges and Opportunities CMU Energy Interview: Ed Rubin


Industry Expertise (2)


Public Policy

Accomplishments (1)

AWMA Lyman A. Ripperton Award (professional)


Education (3)

Stanford University: Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering 1969

Stanford University: M.S., Mechanical Engineering 1965

City College of New York: B.S., Mechanical Engineering 1964

Affiliations (4)

  • Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making
  • Electricity Industry Center
  • Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research
  • Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation

Articles (5)

It is Time to Invest in 99% CO2 Capture

Environmental Science and Technology

2022 To meet the U.S. climate target for a carbon-free electric power sector by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, a portfolio of energy and environmental technologies will be needed, such as renewables, battery energy storage, small modular nuclear reactors, carbon capture and storage (CCS), bioenergy with CCS (BECCS), and direct air capture and storage (DACS). A power grid with high (e.g., 80%) penetration of variable input renewables will also require other firm capacity to make electric power reliable, flexible, and affordable. Fossil fuels, which currently provide about 60% of U.S. electricity and nearly half the projected generation needs in 2050 under current policies, are viewed as essential to ensure reliability, affordability, and operational flexibility in a system with high variable-input renewable sources. Carbon capture technologies to decarbonize fossil-fueled power plants will therefore be necessary to meet emission reduction targets. CCS is also needed to decarbonize industrial processes, such as cement, steel, chemicals, and blue hydrogen produced from natural gas.

view more

Dry cooling retrofits at existing fossil fuel-fired power plants in a water- stressed region: Tradeoffs in water savings, cost, and capacity shortfalls

Applied Energy

2022 This study investigates the performance, cost, and generating capacity impacts of switching from wet cooling towers to dry cooling systems to reduce the consumptive water use at existing fossil fuel-fired power plants in a water-stressed region. Retrofit analysis of dry cooling is conducted on a unit-by-unit basis for both coal-fired and gas-fired power plants. Unit-level results are then aggregated to the regional level. Based on regional averages, retrofitting dry cooling systems in lieu of wet cooling towers decreases total annual plant water consumption at existing coal-and gas-fired power plants by 93% and 100%, respectively, while increasing the levelized cost of electricity generation by approximately 12% and 18%, respectively. Based on a nominal regional water price, this cost increase corresponds to an average cost of consumptive water savings of $2.5 and $5.9 per cubic meter of water saved at coal and gas plants, respectively, if retrofit difficulty is minimal. Over the course of a year, the change in monthly net regional generating capacity from dry cooling retrofits exhibits a seasonal pattern, with the largest shortfalls occurring in July.

view more

Towards improved cost evaluation of Carbon Capture and Storage from industry

International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control

2021 This paper contributes to the development of improved guidelines for cost evaluation of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) from industrial applications building on previous work in the field. It discusses key challenges and factors that have a large impact on the results of cost evaluations, but are often overlooked or insufficiently addressed. These include cost metrics (especially in the context of industrial plants with multiple output products), energy supply aspects, retrofitting costs, CO2 transport and storage, maturity of the capture technology. Where possible examples are given to demonstrate their quantitative impact and show how costs may vary widely on a case-by-case basis. Recommendations are given to consider different possible heat and power supply strategies, as well as future energy and carbon price scenarios, to better understand cost performances under various framework conditions. Since retrofitting CCS is very relevant for industrial facilities, further considerations are made on how to better account for the key elements that constitute retrofitting costs.

view more

Induced innovation in energy technologies and systems: A review of evidence and potential implications for CO2 mitigation

Environmental Research Letters

2021 We conduct a systematic and interdisciplinary review of empirical literature assessing evidence on induced innovation in energy and related technologies. We explore links between demand-drivers (both market-wide and targeted); indicators of innovation (principally, patents); and outcomes (cost reduction, efficiency, and multi-sector/macro consequences). We build on existing reviews in different fields and assess over 200 papers containing original data analysis. Papers linking drivers to patents, and indicators of cumulative capacity to cost reductions (experience curves), dominate the literature. The former does not directly link patents to outcomes; the latter does not directly test for the causal impact of on cost reductions). Diverse other literatures provide additional evidence concerning the links between deployment, innovation activities, and outcomes. We derive three main conclusions. (1) Demand-pull forces enhance patenting; econometric studies find positive impacts in industry, electricity and transport sectors in all but a few specific cases. This applies to all drivers - general energy prices, carbon prices, and targeted interventions that build markets.

view more

Uncertainty analysis in the techno-economic assessment of CO2 capture and storage technologies. Critical review and guidelines for use

International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control

2020 Uncertainty analysis is a key element of sound techno-economic analysis (TEA) of CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies and systems, and in the communication of TEA results. Many CCS technologies are relatively novel, with only few large-scale projects constructed and in operation to date. Therefore, uncertainties in technology performance and costs are often substantial, making it imperative that they be characterized and reported. Although uncertainty analysis itself is not novel, with some methods already frequently used by the CCS TEA community, a document that provides a comprehensive overview of methods and approaches, as well as guidance on their selection and use, is still lacking. Given its importance, we seek to fill this gap by providing a critical review of uncertainty analysis methods along with guidance on the selection and use of these methods for CCS TEAs, highlighting good practice and examples from the CCS literature. The paper starts by identifying the different audiences for CCS TEAs, the different modelling approaches available for CCS technology performance and cost analysis, and the different roles that uncertainty analysis may play.

view more