Research

Big Challenges, Big Solutions

The Energy Institute is committed to diversifying the global energy portfolio, and to the more thoughtful use of existing resources. We need to rethink the way we travel, light, warm, cool, and build our world. These challenges demand interdisciplinary innovation and collaboration. With over 130 faculty affiliates conducting over $50 million in research each year, University of Michigan Energy Institute initiatives span 19 disciplines, several countries, and a range of industries. 

Energy policy, economics and societal impact

Recognizing that the pathway to implementing technological solutions is via public policy, economics and societal acceptance, we are 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 growth in solar energy materials science, we 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 locally.

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 efficiency in lighting is the major focus of energy utilization activities.

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 development of such alternatives is a major challenge in the transition from fossil fuels for transportation.