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.
Nina Lin and Neil Marsh met at an Energy Institute-hosted symposium three years ago. Both were interested in biofuels, but their research backgrounds are substantially different: Nina Lin is an assistant professor of Chemical Engineering, and Marsh is a professor in the Chemistry Department and of Biological Chemistry at the Medical School.
Energy Institute Director Mark Barteau has created the organization’s first Faculty Council, a group charged with providing input on Energy Institute initiatives and programs and better connecting UMEI staff with the university’s 140-plus energy faculty. The group met for the first time in July.
The members of the University of Michigan Energy Institute Faculty Council are:
The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise and the University of Michigan Energy Institute are pleased to announce that Tom Lyon, of the Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), will be taking over dual responsibilities as Associate Director for Research at the Erb Institute and Associate Director for Social Science and Policy at the Energy Institute (UMEI). Lyon is the University’s Dow Professor of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce.
On June 25 in Washington D.C., University of Michigan Energy Institute Director Mark Barteau unveiled the results of a yearlong National Research Council study on diluted bitumen crude oil’s effect on pipelines. Barteau chaired the committee charged with researching the issue.
Since 2005, the United States has embarked on a steady expansion of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, widely touted as a win-win proposition for energy security and the environment. However, the promised breakthroughs in biofuel technology have greatly lagged the rapid ramp-up of production mandated by Congress while adverse side effects of the policy have become ever more clear.
With the backing of 13 car companies, the United Auto Workers and other parties, the Obama Administration announced the biggest step forward on auto efficiency in over a generation. The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations just finalized target the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of 54.5 mpg by model year 2025, double the efficiency of this year's vehicle fleet.
Building on the Bush Administration's 2007 proposal to raise automotive fuel economy by up to four percent per year, the Obama Administration is now considering regulations that might target a doubling of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards by 2025. But just how much can the efficiency of cars and light trucks be improved, and at what cost?