The University of Michigan Energy Institute extends a rich tradition of energy research at U-M. Established in 2006, it builds on the legacy of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project. The Phoenix Project was launched in 1948 to engage in research and other activities that support the peaceful uses of atomic energy as a “living memorial” for the members of the University of Michigan community who gave their lives in World War II.
The demand for economically and environmentally sound energy solutions is urgent and global. At the Energy Institute, we build on the University of Michigan’s strong energy research heritage at the heart of the nation’s automotive and manufacturing industries to develop and integrate science, technology and policy solutions to pressing energy challenges.
UMEI Research Thrusts
- Energy policy, economics and societal impact
- Carbon-free energy sources
- Energy storage and utilization
- Transportation and fuels
Policy, economics and societal impact of the energy challenge: Recognizing that pathway to the implementation of technological solutions is via public policy, economics and societal impact, the U-M is pursuing a comprehensive approach to overcoming barriers to the implementation of technical solutions to the challenges described below.
Carbon-free energy sources: With the top-ranked Nuclear Engineering department and a large and growing activity in solar energy materials science, this thrust will address energy sources that minimize or eliminate the production of greenhouse gases. In addition to solar and nuclear energy, established programs to tap wind and ocean energy are developing those sources for local deployment.
Energy storage and utilization: Energy storage is a limiting technology in the development of vehicles powered by batteries and hydrogen. The development of lightweight, cost-effective, high energy density batteries and research on hydrogen storage technologies are major focal points of this thrust. Improved energy utilization in lighting is the major focal point in energy utilization.
Transportation systems and fuels: U-M is at the center of the world’s automotive industry and automotive engineering is the nation’s premiere program. The development of alternate power plants and fuels for transportation is a strong and growing program involving significant interaction with the automotive industry and growing interaction with the petrochemical industry. The conversion of fuels into more attractive forms is a major challenge in the move away from fossil fuel consumption for transportation.