Autonomous "robot" vehicles that can drive themselves hold great promise for transforming transportation systems across the world. Part of their appeal is the potential to greatly improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. Not so fast, notes Bradley Berman in a critical piece on ReadWriteDrive, where he quotes Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco's admonition that technology "doesn't save us from ourselves."
The University of Michigan Regents resolved in 1948 that: “…the University of Michigan create a War Memorial Center to explore the ways and means by which the potentialities of atomic energy may become a beneficent influence in the life of man, to be known as the Phoenix Project of the University of Michigan.” To this end, the Advisory Board of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project administers a seed-funding program for research groups developing proposals for external support.
At the Energy Institute Symposium, a great selection of University of Michigan graduate student showcased their work in the Energy Institute’s thrust areas, including carbon-free energy sources; energy storage and utilization; transportation and fuels; and energy policy, economics and societal impact. A special thanks to all the students that submitted nearly 50 posters highlighting the depth and breadth of energy research at the University of Michigan. After much deliberation, the winning posters from the the Energy Institute Symposium were chosen:
The University of Michigan Energy Institute announced on October 14 th 2013 the addition of 11 members to its External Advisory Board. The new members met with existing board members, Energy Institute staff, and university leadership for their first meeting after the Institute’s fall symposium on October 15th.
A unique $8 million battery lab at U-M will enable industry and university researchers to collaborate on developing cheaper and longer lasting energy-storage devices in the heart of the U.S. auto industry. With support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the university, it will be housed at the U-M Energy Institute. Initial support for the lab includes $5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., $2.1 million from Ford Motor Co. and roughly $900,000 from the College of Engineering.
MLive reports on the decommissioning of the Ford Nuclear Reactor and the planned $11.4 million renovation of the building. “The reactor is in its last stage of decommissioning, according to a memo from U-M Chief Financial Officer Tim Slottow to the Board of Regents. Regents will vote on whether to approve the project during a 3 p.m. Thursday meeting at the Michigan Union.”
Our Energy Future: Change, Challenge, and Opportunity
America’s energy sourcing has changed dramatically over the past five years. With guest speakers from industry, academia and government, this symposium will explore the ripple effect this change produces on the global economy, the pursuit of viable renewables, the evolution of energy providers, and the American environmental, political, and transportation landscape. This event will also serve to dedicate the recently completed, LEED-Gold certified home of the Energy Institute. REGISTER HERE.
ANN ARBOR—University of Michigan researchers today released seven technical reports that together form the most comprehensive Michigan-focused resource on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas and oil extraction process commonly known as fracking.
The studies, totaling nearly 200 pages, examine seven critical topics related to the use of hydraulic fracturing in Michigan, with an emphasis on high-volume methods: technology, geology and hydrogeology, environment and ecology, public health, policy and law, economics, and public perceptions.
Based on results from his recent study, the Energy Institute’s John DeCicco has authored an article for Yale’s Environment 360 blog. This thought-provoking piece opens:
Every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has backed programs to develop alternative transportation fuels. But there are better ways to foster energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions than using subsidies and mandates to promote politically favored fuels.
Using a community of fungus and genetically modified E. coli, a Michigan Engineering professor has developed a way to turn corn stalks and leaves into biofuel. The process breaks down waste plant materials into a sugar, which is then turned into isobutanol. Professor Nina Lin and her team argue that their isobutanol could be better than ethanol and other biofuels because it can be dropped into the fuel tank or pipeline without any disruption or corrosion.