U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center – Clean Vehicle Consortium
In November 2009, President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao announced the establishment of the Clean Energy Research Centers (CERC), the primary purpose of which is to facilitate joint research and development on clean energy technology by teams of scientists and engineers from the United States and China.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, and Chinese National Energy Administrator Zhang Guobao signed the CERC Protocol on November 17, 2009, launching the Center. As the world’s top energy consumers, energy producers, and greenhouse gas emitters, the U.S. and China will play leading roles in the world’s transition to a clean energy economy in the years ahead. Over the long-term, it is significant to note that much of the energy-consuming infrastructure of the 21st century that will benefit from this work has yet to be built.
Recognizing that energy use in vehicles represents both challenges and opportunities for our two countries, the United States and the People’s Republic of China have chosen University of Michigan and Tsinghua University to lead a consortium of experts to collaborate in the field of clean vehicles under the CERC’s auspices. The vision for the Clean Vehicles Collaboration (CVC) is to contribute to dramatic improvements in technologies with potential to reduce the dependence of vehicles on oil and improve vehicle fuel efficiency. The CERC-CVC will build a foundation of knowledge, technologies, human capabilities, and relationships in mutually beneficial areas that will position the United States and China for a future with very low environmental impact and highly efficient clean vehicles. The collaboration will advance technologies for clean vehicles through joint research and development.
More (CERC-CVC Website)
More (DoE CERC Website)
Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion
The Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion, led by Prof. Peter Green, is an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The CSTEC’s goals are to discover, to understand and to exploit processes that occur at the nanoscale, including quantum phenomena, to design and to synthesize new materials for high efficiency photovoltaic (PV) and thermoelectric (TE) devices.
The central energy challenges to utilizing renewable energy sources revolve around efficient energy conversion, storage, and efficient use. Current energy conversion strategies include the use of photovoltaics, which convert light (photons) into electricity (electrons); thermoelectrics, which interconvert the heat (phonons) and electricity (electrons); hydrogen generation through photocatalysis; the creation of bio-fuels from plant-life (e.g.: palm oil, sugar cane); and fuel cells. Methods of energy storage include batteries, hydrogen storage, and supercapacitors. The third component of the challenge is efficient usage energy. This research in this center will be devoted to efficient energy conversion.
Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors
The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) brings together an exceptionally capable team that will apply existing modeling and simulation (M&S) capabilities and develop advanced capabilities to create a usable environment for predictive simulation of light water reactors (LWRs). This environment, designated the Virtual Reactor (VR), will incorporate science-based models, state-of-the-art numerical methods, modern computational science and engineering practices, and uncertainty quantification (UQ) and validation against data from operating pressurized water reactors (PWRs). It will couple state-of-the-art fuel performance, neutronics, thermal-hydraulics (T-H), and structural models with existing tools for systems and safety analysis and will be designed for implementation on both today’s leadership-class computers and the advanced architecture platforms now under development by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Bill Martin, Professor in the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences department at the University of Michigan, leads the Models and Numerical Methods portion of the program focused on improving predictive capabilities in the areas of radiation transport, thermal-hydraulics, and numerical methods to foster improved product performance of LWRs.
UMEI awards Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies grants
The University of Michigan Energy Institute is funding University of Michigan research projects through its Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies (PISET) program. The projects were selected from a competitive field of proposals submitted from across the University. The Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies program funds teams of two or more U-M investigators, whose research bridges traditional disciplines to offer a better understanding of sustainable energy science, technology, or policy.
The funded projects are:
- Assistant Professor of Chemistry and MMPEI Faculty Fellow Bart M. Bartlett and Assistant Professor/Materials Science and Engineering Anton Van der Ven, who will explore production of more efficient cathodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, an innovation of particular interest for the automotive industry.
- Assistant Research Scientist in Chemistry Antek G. Wong-Foy, Assistant Professor /Computer Science and Engineering Michael J. Cafarella and Assistant Professor /Mechanical Engineering and MMPEI Fellow Donald J. Siegel, who will combine their expertise in computational materials chemistry, data mining, and chemical synthesis to develop a model of cyber-discovery for application to CO2 capture materials for reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants.
- Investigators from the University of Michigan SMART program, a project of U-M Transportation Research Institute and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, who examine how physical and informational connectivity, including access to real-time, integrated information on multi-modal transportation (car and car-share, taxi, rail, bus, bike, ferries, etc.) affects consumers’ travel choices and energy consumption. The study will examine barriers to the use of sustainable transportation, including the inconvenience associated with lack of connectivity and service predictability. The study will also explore the development of integrative, cost-effective technologies including mobile Internet systems to address use issues. The research team includes Principal Investigators David Chock and Richard Gonzalez, project lead Susan Zielinski and Peter Sweatman as a key advisor.
- Researchers from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts’ (LSA) Department of Chemistry and the College of Engineering’s Chemical Engineering Department who are exploring production of E. coli bacteria strains that can convert renewable biomass sources into next generation biofuels that have properties closer to gasoline and diesel than today’s ethanol or vegetable oil-based biodiesel fuels. Principal Investigators Neil Marsh and Xiaoxia (Nina) Lin lead this basic science and engineering collaboration.
- Scientists from the College of Pharmacy’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry and LSA’s Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology Department are investigating the potential of converting fatty acids into hydrocarbons for liquid biofuel production. The work builds on metabolic engineering technology developed in Principal Investigator David Sherman’s lab. Sherman and his co-PI, Anuj Kumar, will initially deploy this technology in yeast cells and eventually into algae strains as the means for creating biodiesel and biojet fuel. Sherman and Kumar each operate labs within the Life Sciences Institute, which also supports this PISET.
- Levi Thompson, The Richard E. Balzhiser Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, Melanie Sanford, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Moses Gomberg Collegiate Professor of Chemistry in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, and Alice Sleightholme, Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, will explore performance enhancements for the redox flow battery, an emerging energy storage technology that offers solutions to such challenges as integrating intermittent renewable energies (wind, solar) onto the power grid. The potential for redox flow batteries rests in their flexible design options, simplified heat management, power capacity, safety, minimal impact on the environment, and potential low cost. Unlike traditional batteries, which store chemical energy in solid electrodes, redox flow batteries store electricity chemically via an electrolyte solution that is pumped from external chambers through a reactor to generate electricity. They offer lower storage costs than traditional batteries with lower rates of self-discharge.
U-M – SJTU Research Collaboration
U-M and Shanghai Jiao Tong University have entered in to a research collaboration in the areas of renewable energy and biomedical technology, with six research teams receiving funding in a new joint program that teams up investigators from both schools. Each of the six winning teams will receive $200,000. The projects were selected from 39 proposals — 20 in the biomedical technologies category and 19 for renewable energy projects — submitted by teams that include researchers from both U-M and SJTU.
The goal of the U-M/SJTU Collaborative Research Program in Renewable Energy Science and Technology is to develop new technologies that reduce global carbon emissions and their impact on climate change. The Collaborative Research Program in Biomedical Technologies will spur technological advances that improve human health.
Winning projects in the renewable energy category are:
• High capacity Li-air batteries for electric vehicle applications
Donald J. Siegel, Department of Mechanical Engineering, U-M; Zi-Feng Ma, Department of Chemical Engineering, SJTU; Xianxia Yuan, Department of Chemical Engineering, SJTU.
• High Efficiency Hybrid Solar Cells Based on Carbon Nanotube Enhanced Nanostructures
Yafei Zhang, Research Institute of Micro/Nanometer Science & Technology, SJTU; Zhaohui Zhong, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, U-M.
• Large panel integrated light transmitting and solar energy harvesting façade systems for net zero energy efficient buildings
Harry Giles, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, U-M.