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Renewables, Environment, and Sustainability

New sources of energy for transporting our goods, lighting our homes, powering our businesses, and moving people from place to place.

Protecting the environment and expanding access to clean air and water resources. In a coming era of scarcity, how can engineering and science transform our ways of living to make them truly sustainable?

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Departments conducting research relating to Renewables, Environment, and Sustainability are wide-ranging. Learn more about the multi-disciplinary approaches to gaining Renewables, Environment, and Sustainability in your undergraduate degree.

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Aerospace Engineering
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Biomedical Engineering
A blood sample flows through a small maze-like "labyrinth" device designed to used to help better detect cancer cells.
Chemical Engineering
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Civil Engineering
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Climate & Meteorology
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Computer Engineering
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Computer Science
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Data Science
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Electrical Engineering
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Engineering Physics
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Environmental Engineering
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Industrial & Operations Engineering
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Materials Science & Engineering
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Mechanical Engineering
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Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering
An experiment for developing better interplanetary transport glows blue and purple in a metal thruster discharge chamber
Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences
Robotics Tile
Robotics
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Space Sciences & Engineering

Photosynthesis copycat may improve solar cells

The new approach moves energy efficiently and could reduce energy losses converting light into electricity.

Toward manufacturing semitransparent solar cells the size of windows

A peel-off patterning technique could enable more fragile organic semiconductors to be manufactured into semitransparent solar panels at scale.

Solar-powered chemistry uses carbon dioxide and water to make feedstock for fuels, chemicals

Producing synthesis gas, a precursor of a variety of fuels and chemicals, no longer requires natural gas, coal or biomass.

‘Exciton surfing’ could enable next-gen energy, computing and communications tech

A charge-neutral information carrier could cut energy waste from computing, now that it can potentially be transported within chips.

The post ‘Exciton surfing’ could enable next-gen energy, computing and communications tech appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Powering robots: biomorphic batteries could provide 72 times more energy than stand-alone cells

The researchers compare them to fat deposits in living creatures.

The post Powering robots: biomorphic batteries could provide 72 times more energy than stand-alone cells appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Machine learning links material composition and performance in catalysts

Understanding how to design better catalysts could enable sustainable energy tech and make everyday chemicals more environmentally friendly.

The post Machine learning links material composition and performance in catalysts appeared first on Engineering Research News.

University of Michigan partners on multi-institution planning effort for state’s water future

Work for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will develop a policy roadmap to safe, low cost water services.

The post University of Michigan partners on multi-institution planning effort for state’s water future appeared first on Engineering Research News.

$5.2M for digital twins of nuclear reactors could bring down nuclear energy costs

Virtual copies of nuclear reactors could enable smarter maintenance for current reactors and more automation for advanced reactors.

The post $5.2M for digital twins of nuclear reactors could bring down nuclear energy costs appeared first on Engineering Research News.

$12.75M for reliable hypersonic engines and artificial photosynthesis

Two U-M led projects are funded by the Department of Defense.

The post $12.75M for reliable hypersonic engines and artificial photosynthesis appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Land use matters as communities cut carbon emissions

Communities will have varied tolerances for the acreage occupied by renewables. A new study quantifies the land needed for different options.

The post Land use matters as communities cut carbon emissions appeared first on Engineering Research News.

$5.1M to advance nuclear energy awarded to U-M

The Department of Energy will support research into better heat exchangers as well as improved predictions for neutron physics and radiation damage.

The post $5.1M to advance nuclear energy awarded to U-M appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Nuclear “shadow corrosion” reproduced in the lab, paving way to longer fuel life

Now that it’s understood, researchers are on their way to preventing this type of degradation in nuclear power plants.

The post Nuclear “shadow corrosion” reproduced in the lab, paving way to longer fuel life appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Key takeaways from the COP26 Summit

Three Michigan Engineering experts offer insights following the summit in Glasgow.

The post Key takeaways from the COP26 Summit appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Strong magnetic fields change how friction works in plasma

Rather than just slowing down a charged particle moving through a plasma, friction can also push from the side in a strong magnetic field.

The post Strong magnetic fields change how friction works in plasma appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Biden’s climate pledge: Engineers offer insights

Experts on electric vehicles, carbon capture and sequestration, and nuclear energy weigh in.

The post Biden’s climate pledge: Engineers offer insights appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Treating PFAS water contamination with cold plasma

University of Michigan researchers are developing better plasma technology that can destroy PFAS compounds

The post Treating PFAS water contamination with cold plasma appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Using lasers to measure uranium enrichment

Nuclear energy and nuclear nonproliferation would both benefit from a faster, easier way to measure what proportion of uranium atoms can split.

The post Using lasers to measure uranium enrichment appeared first on Engineering Research News.

How a spray from the hardware store could improve nuclear fusion

A coating of polyurethane keeps plasma problems in check during magnetic compression.

The post How a spray from the hardware store could improve nuclear fusion appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Lasers can detect weapons-grade uranium from afar

Researchers have shown that a technique often used to identify chemicals at a distance could help sniff out illicit nuclear activities from as far as a couple miles away.

The post Lasers can detect weapons-grade uranium from afar appeared first on Engineering Research News.

In the news: Michigan Engineering experts June 7-11

Highlights include Newsweek and The Conversation.

The post In the news: Michigan Engineering experts June 7-11 appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Shipping is tough on the climate and hard to clean up – these innovations can help cut emissions

In The Conversation, NAME Chair Jing Sun explains some of the fuels and technology that could improve shipping sustainability in the future.

The post Shipping is tough on the climate and hard to clean up – these innovations can help cut emissions appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Tracking ocean microplastics from space

Satellites give new insights on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, plus sources and flows of ocean microplastic.

The post Tracking ocean microplastics from space appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Carbon capture, utilization and storage roadmap reveals technologies that are ready to go

Concrete and construction aggregates could be carbon negative and dollar positive while sustainable aviation fuel and methanol could also turn a profit.

The post Carbon capture, utilization and storage roadmap reveals technologies that are ready to go appeared first on Engineering Research News.

$11M DOE center for next-gen battery technology

The University of Michigan will lead a suite of projects involving multiple institutions to boost understanding of solid-state EV power cells.

The post $11M DOE center for next-gen battery technology appeared first on Engineering Research News.

New approach reduces EV battery testing time by 75%

System developed at the University of Michigan saves time and money in the race to create better batteries for the electric vehicle revolution

The post New approach reduces EV battery testing time by 75% appeared first on Engineering Research News.

$3.4M to turn up the heat at solar-thermal plants

Improved heat-trapping materials for solar thermal energy could help the U.S. meet its goal of cutting solar energy costs in half by 2030.

The post $3.4M to turn up the heat at solar-thermal plants appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Resistance is not futile: Predicting how changes in production, materials impact EV battery life

As battery makers race to keep up with demand, a quick and inexpensive step can save money and time in development.

The post Resistance is not futile: Predicting how changes in production, materials impact EV battery life appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Energy from waste: $6.8 million for cow-inspired biodigesters

University of Michigan leads a collaboration of academic, municipal and private institutions to advance a renewable methane ecosystem.

The post Energy from waste: $6.8 million for cow-inspired biodigesters appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Video: 100% renewable diesel cars can reduce carbon emissions while waiting for electric vehicles

Researchers estimate that there was an 80% carbon footprint reduction when using renewable hydrocarbon biofuels instead of traditional petroleum-sourced fuels

The post Video: 100% renewable diesel cars can reduce carbon emissions while waiting for electric vehicles appeared first on Engineering Research News.

$2M to replace fossil fuels with solar power in fertilizer production

The new approach could enable farmers to produce ammonia on-site, and also reduce CO2 emissions from fertilizer production.

The post $2M to replace fossil fuels with solar power in fertilizer production appeared first on Engineering Research News.

In the news: Michigan Engineering experts August 9-13

Highlights include the Los Angeles Times.

The post In the news: Michigan Engineering experts August 9-13 appeared first on Engineering Research News.

In the news: Michigan Engineering experts June 21-25

Highlights include Vox and the New York Times.

The post In the news: Michigan Engineering experts June 21-25 appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Next-gen electric vehicle batteries: These are the questions we still need to answer

University of Michigan researchers lay out hurdles for tech that could double EV range.

The post Next-gen electric vehicle batteries: These are the questions we still need to answer appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Prepping for the revolution

University of Michigan engineers are working to make our electrified future more equitable and avoid the mistakes of the past.

The post Prepping for the revolution appeared first on Engineering Research News.

In the news: Michigan Engineering experts May 17-21

Highlights include NPR, Popular Science and The Conversation.

The post In the news: Michigan Engineering experts May 17-21 appeared first on Engineering Research News.

In the news: Michigan Engineering experts May 10-14

Highlights include The Conversation, MLive and the Washington Post.

The post In the news: Michigan Engineering experts May 10-14 appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Scrap to sustainable sheet metal: A $2M effort to overhaul automotive recycling

The global move to advanced materials and electric powertrains requires a re-evaluation of how we recycle vehicles.

The post Scrap to sustainable sheet metal: A $2M effort to overhaul automotive recycling appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Making wind power more predictable: A Q&A with Eunshin Byon

Predictive modeling could help power companies get more consistent output from renewables.

The post Making wind power more predictable: A Q&A with Eunshin Byon appeared first on Engineering Research News.

How self-driving car subsidies could carry us through the ‘dark age’ of deployment

A game-theory approach identifies which policy could support autonomous vehicles’ market penetration—and environmental benefits

The post How self-driving car subsidies could carry us through the ‘dark age’ of deployment appeared first on Engineering Research News.

U-M team’s power grid work earn kudos at national conference

Society for Risk Analysis recognizes Michigan researchers for work predicting storm damage.

The post U-M team’s power grid work earn kudos at national conference appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Flaring allows more methane into the atmosphere than we thought

The upside is that simple fixes will have a big impact

The post Flaring allows more methane into the atmosphere than we thought appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Longer, more intense allergy seasons could result from climate change

Rising temperatures, increased CO2 will drive trees, grasses, weeds to produce more pollen.

The post Longer, more intense allergy seasons could result from climate change appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Opinion: After a summer of weather horrors, adapting to climate change is an imperative

In a perspective piece for Washington Post, Richard Rood says response to climate change requires an adaption mindset in addition to mitigation efforts.

The post Opinion: After a summer of weather horrors, adapting to climate change is an imperative appeared first on Engineering Research News.

The ocean is full of tiny plastic particles – we found a way to track them with satellites

In The Conversation, Chris Ruf explains how CYGNSS can find the source ocean microplastics and aid in future clean up.

The post The ocean is full of tiny plastic particles – we found a way to track them with satellites appeared first on Engineering Research News.

‘Doomsday Glacier’ may be more stable than initially feared

Study sheds light on the future of the massive Thwaites Glacier.

The post ‘Doomsday Glacier’ may be more stable than initially feared appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Hurricane-tracking CYGNSS satellite system gets NASA renewal as it expands its reach

Ocean wind tracker is finding new uses for inland studies.

The post Hurricane-tracking CYGNSS satellite system gets NASA renewal as it expands its reach appeared first on Engineering Research News.

North American cold-climate forests are already absorbing less carbon, study shows

By zeroing in on different high-latitude regions around the globe, researchers reveal what global averages mask.

The post North American cold-climate forests are already absorbing less carbon, study shows appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Spotlight: Data is life

Take a multimedia trip to the Amazon and meet the researchers who are working to understand how the future of the rainforest could affect us all.

The post Spotlight: Data is life appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Q&A with Henry Liu, Mcity’s new director

University of Michigan’s mobility research center has been realigned under Michigan Engineering.

The post Q&A with Henry Liu, Mcity’s new director appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Intersection of environmental justice and engineering the focus of new $2.5M endowed professorship

The gift represents a cross-discipline approach to sustainability and equity.

The post Intersection of environmental justice and engineering the focus of new $2.5M endowed professorship appeared first on Engineering Research News.

In the news: Michigan Engineering experts June 1 – 4

Highlight include The Detroit News.

The post In the news: Michigan Engineering experts June 1 – 4 appeared first on Engineering Research News.

The future of Line 5: Engineering under Lake Michigan

How would Enbridge shut down the controversial pipeline and construct a replacement tunnel?

The post The future of Line 5: Engineering under Lake Michigan appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Bendable concrete and other CO2-infused cement mixes could dramatically cut global emissions

In The Conversation, experts break down what’s needed to make CO2 in concrete work on a wide scale to curb global emissions.

The post Bendable concrete and other CO2-infused cement mixes could dramatically cut global emissions appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Wastewater treatment at one-third the size and cost

Systems featuring a ‘membrane-aerated biofilm reactor’ can also remove more nitrogen from treatment plant discharges.

The post Wastewater treatment at one-third the size and cost appeared first on Engineering Research News.

‘Peecycling’ payoff: Urine diversion shows multiple environmental benefits when used at city scale

New study is the first in-depth analysis of the environmental performance and benefits of large-scale urine recycling relative to conventional wastewater treatment and fertilizer production.

The post ‘Peecycling’ payoff: Urine diversion shows multiple environmental benefits when used at city scale appeared first on Engineering Research News.

1,000-cycle lithium-sulfur battery could quintuple electric vehicle ranges

The nanofibers recycled from Kevlar vests are harnessed in a biomimetic design to help solve a battery’s longevity problem.

The post 1,000-cycle lithium-sulfur battery could quintuple electric vehicle ranges appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Mirror-like photovoltaics get more electricity out of heat

By reflecting nearly all the light they can’t turn into electricity, they help pave the way for storing renewable energy as heat.

COVID-19 is laying waste to many US recycling programs

‘The trends we see in the making and consuming of single-use goods, particularly plastic, could have lasting negative effects on the circular economy.’

The post COVID-19 is laying waste to many US recycling programs appeared first on Engineering Research News.

In the news: Michigan Engineering experts August 23-27

Highlights include Wired and Popular Science.

The post In the news: Michigan Engineering experts August 23-27 appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Harnessing the hum

The property that makes fluorescent lights buzz could power a new generation of computing devices.

The post Harnessing the hum appeared first on Engineering Research News.

“Egg carton” quantum dot array could lead to ultralow power devices

By putting a twist on new “2D” semiconductors, researchers have demonstrated their potential for using single photons to transmit information.

U-M, community partners tackle energy insecurity in three Detroit neighborhoods

Johanna Mathieu is one of four principal investigators on a project to improve home energy efficiency and to lower monthly utility bills.

Battery-free sensor startup takes aim at industrial efficiency

Part of the team that brought us the world’s smallest computer in 2015 brings the future of computing technology into the present.

Russel Lecture: Fighting climate change with organic electronics

The researcher-entrepreneur who helped bring OLED displays to the masses envisions a future of efficient lighting and next-gen solar power.

‘Green methane’ from artificial photosynthesis could recycle CO2

A catalyst on a solar panel can make methane, the main component of natural gas, with carbon dioxide, water and sunlight.

The “Magic Ratio” that could power tomorrow’s solar cells

How air conditioners could advance a renewable power grid

In an approach that won’t disrupt consumers, researchers will tackle two of the biggest issues in the energy industry.

Spray-on coating could make solar panels snow-resistant

Cold-weather-friendly formula foils snow/ice accumulation in Alaska test.

The post Spray-on coating could make solar panels snow-resistant appeared first on Engineering Research News.

$1.8M to develop room temperature, controllable quantum nanomaterials

The project could pave the way for compact quantum computing and communications as well as efficient UV lamps for sterilization and air purification.

Solar cells with 30-year lifetimes for power-generating windows

High-efficiency but fragile molecules for converting light to electricity thrive with a little protection.

The post Solar cells with 30-year lifetimes for power-generating windows appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Artificial photosynthesis devices that improve themselves with use

“Our discovery is a real game-changer. I’ve never seen such stability.”

$6.25 million to develop new semiconductors for artificial photosynthesis

An interdisciplinary team from four universities are developing a new class of semiconductors for novel artificial photosynthesis and the production of clean chemicals and fuels using sunlight, as part of a DoD MURI

Coordination and collaboration are critical to U.S. leadership in plasma science: a Q&A with the Plasma 2020 Decadal Study co-chair

Plasma science has the potential to speed advances in medicine, energy, electronics and more—including helping us deal with pandemics.

Urban solar energy: Solar panels for windows hit record 8% efficiency

Transparent solar panels on windows could take a bite out of a building’s electricity needs.

Batteryless next-generation cellular devices could empower a more sustainable future

PhD student Trevor Odelberg is looking to enable long range, highly reliable, and low-power cellular IoT devices that one day can run entirely on harvested energy, reducing battery waste and empowering devices to last for decades.

Three members of ECE will represent U-M at the 2021 Rising Stars in EECS Workshop

PhD students Sijia Geng, Bahareh Hadidian, and Nasimeh Heydaribeni will participate in the intensive workshop that brings together outstanding women and gender minorities interested in pursuing academic careers in EECS.

The post Three members of ECE will represent U-M at the 2021 Rising Stars in EECS Workshop appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Nanotech OLED electrode liberates 20% more light, could slash display power consumption

A five-nanometer-thick layer of silver and copper outperforms conventional indium tin oxide without adding cost.

The post Nanotech OLED electrode liberates 20% more light, could slash display power consumption appeared first on Engineering Research News.

Task Force report on grid stability concepts receives IEEE PES Prize Paper Award

The rapid growth of renewable energy led to an international task force to study its impact on the stability of worldwide power systems.

Alireza Ramyar awarded Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship for his research on power processing architectures for improved sustainability

Ramyar’s research focuses on how power and energy can be transformed, extracted from clean power generation, and stored effectively and sustainably.

Anna Stuhlmacher awarded Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship for her research that could help integrate renewable energy sources into the power grid

Stuhlmacher is working to optimize the interaction between the power distribution network and the drinking water distribution network to improve the sustainability, flexibility, and resiliency of both systems.

Al-Thaddeus Avestruz receives CAREER Award to advance sustainable energy storage

Using retired electric vehicle batteries, the project plans to enable widespread and equitable access to sustainable power and energy through sustainable energy storage.

Optimizing the interactions between critical infrastructure systems for better flexibility, sustainability, and resiliency

PhD student Anna Stuhlmacher researches how the water distribution network can better provide services to the power network, which can allow for greater integration of renewable energy sources into the grid, reduce costs, and improve system resiliency.

New collaborative project for advancing energy justice in Detroit

In partnership with Detroit-based community organizations, Prof. Johanna Mathieu co-leads a team of researchers working to reduce disparities in household energy insecurity for low and moderate income households.

Using remote sensing to track microplastics in the ocean

Electrical Engineering undergrad Madeline Evans is a key researcher on a project that uses NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System to monitor microplastic pollution that harms marine ecosystems.

Kaleo Roberts receives scholarship from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society

Roberts works to improve remote sensing of soil moisture, which is important for environmental conservation, natural resource management, and agriculture.

DYNAMO achieves first observation of the “charge separation effect”

Research led by Prof. Stephen Rand, Director of the Center for Dynamic Magneto-optics (DYNAMO), has important potential for energy conversion, ultrafast switching, nanophotonics, and nonlinear optics.

Podcast: Artificial photosynthesis for sustainable solar fuels

In S1E1, Prof. Zetian Mi talks unlocking quantum properties to close the loop on carbon emissions.

Tracking Monarch Butterfly Migration with the World’s Smallest Computer

In a project funded by National Geographic, ECE researchers are teaming up with the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to advance our understanding of monarch butterfly migration with the most ambitious iteration of the Michigan Micro Mote yet.

Detecting environmental pollutants with a smaller, portable, fully electric gas chromatograph

Prof. Yogesh Gianchandani and Dr. Yutao Qin received an “Outstanding Paper Award” for their fully electronic micro gas chromatography system.

Professors Jay Guo and Zetian Mi awarded MTRAC funding for research in autonomous and green vehicles

Guo is working to boost the visibility of autonomous cars for improved safety, and Mi is building a prototype solar hydrogen production system that could out-compete electric cars.

Tianlin Wang recognized with Towner Prize and Distinguished Leadership Award

The College of Engineering honors ECE PhD candidate Tianlin Wang for his excellent research in remote sensing as well as his leadership and service to the community.

Leung Tsang elected to the National Academy of Engineering

A professor of electrical engineering and computer science is awarded one of engineering’s top honors.

Automotive research team recognized for research excellence

The ARC works to solve a broad set of issues pertaining to the modeling and simulation of ground vehicle systems.

Prof. Elaheh Ahmadi receives AFOSR Young Investigator Program award

Prof. Ahmadi will investigate promising new materials needed for an increasingly electrified world

Commission on Carbon Neutrality talks progress, environmental justice at town hall

Prof. Stephen Forrest, who serves as co-chair of the commission, attended the forum to address concerns and give updates on the plan of action.

Commission co-chairs: Climate change solutions need broad commitment

An update on the work done by U-M’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality, co-chaired by Prof. Stephen Forrest.

Can organic solar cells last – even into the next millennium? These might.

Finally, proof that organic photovoltaics can be as reliable as inorganic, with real-life desert testing

Prof. Kamal Sarabandi welcomes Emperor and Empress of Japan at IGARSS 2019

Predicting future disasters is an important goal of those participating in the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium

Xianhe Liu receives Best Poster Award at ICNS 2019

The research impacts development of high-efficiency, micro LEDs, used in a variety of applications.

The National Academy of Engineering invites Prof. Johanna Mathieu to symposium to advance the engineering frontier

The symposium brings together 82 young engineers from different technical areas from around the country.

Counting snowflakes for better water resource management

Mostafa Zaky has built an award-winning model that helps estimate the amount of water stored in snowpacks, which could improve climate change and flood forecasting, as well as overall water resource management.

Prof. Louise Willingale creates extreme plasma conditions using high-intensity laser pulses

Willingale’s research in plasma physics advances many research areas from spectacular astrophysical phenomena to cancer treatment to fusion power.

Building community through clean energy

From Long Beach, CA, to a Nepalese national park and world heritage site, undergrads Ashley Gee and Camille Burke came away with unforgettable experiences and a greater appreciation for how engineering can change the world for the better.

New DOE project aims to convert a traditional engine into a hybrid OP engine with the help of control algorithms

A new project funded by ARPA-E partners Achates Power and the University of Michigan in the development of a novel hybrid electric engine.

The Future is Carbon Neutral

Prof. Stephen Forrest is co-chair of U-M’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality as part of U-M’s commitment to combat climate change and craft a sustainable future for all.

A new $1.6M energy project to develop low cost manufacturing of white organic lighting

Prof. Stephen Forrest is developing an automated high-yield roll-to-roll process to manufacture organic LEDs for lighting.

New research for the future of sustainable power and energy

Take a look at some of the exciting new projects that will help define the next evolution of sustainable power and energy.

Battery economics could power the future of energy

Prof. Johanna Mathieu of EECS and Prof. Catherine Hausman of Public Policy are heading a new project to explore the social costs and benefits of battery energy storage on the electrical grid.

Johanna Mathieu receives NSF CAREER Award to help build a smarter, more sustainable grid

Mathieu will develop optimization and control methods to leverage the flexibility available from distributed energy resources.

Johanna Mathieu receives Ernest and Bettine Kuh Distinguished Faculty Award

The award recognizes Mathieu’s outstanding teaching, research, and service in the area of power and energy.

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  • Space Exploration, Commercialization, and Defense

  • Next Evolution of Socialization