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."
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.
More and more plug-in electric vehicles are hitting the roads each year, but is the technology really close to a tipping point for mass-market growth? In this analysis piece for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), U-M Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco argues that the real turning point for EVs will come only after transportation systems are automated for driverless operation. Read the article here at Automotive Engineering International Online.
Carrie Morton, a member of the Energy Institute team since 2011, is leaving the Institute to join the University’s new Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) as Managing Director. The MTC is a public/private R&D partnership formed to develop the foundations of a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated vehicles that will dramatically improve transportation safety, sustainability, and accessibility. The Energy Institute is a partner supporter of the MTC.
Fuel economy must improve 57 percent in order for light-duty vehicles to match the current energy efficiency of commercial airline flights, says a University of Michigan researcher.
Michael Sivak, a research professor at the U-M Transportation Research Institute, examined recent trends in the amount of energy needed to transport a person a given distance in a light-duty vehicle (cars, SUVs, pickups and vans) or on a scheduled airline flight. His analysis measured BTU per person mile from 1970 to 2010.
The Michigan Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) is a government-industry partnership formed at U-M to transform global mobility by dramatically improving transportation safety, sustainability, and accessibility. MTC draws on U-M’s broad strengths in engineering, urban planning, energy technology, and information technology to accelerate progress in diverse areas such as connected-vehicle systems, driverless vehicles, shared vehicles, and advanced propulsion systems.
JCESR is a major research partnership that integrates government, academic, and industrial researchers from many disciplines to overcome critical scientific and technical barriers and create new breakthrough energy storage technology.
UMEI/ JCESR projects include:
Deposition/Dissolution Theory: Katsuyo Thornton
New Electrolytes Design for Enhanced Stability and Peroxide Growth Control: Don Siegel
Meta Anode Modification Deposition/Dissolution Dynamics: Emmanuelle Marquis
Dedicated in Fall 2013 and currently nearing completion, the Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility is a space developed in cooperation with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Ford Motor Company. This lab 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. The new facility — for prototyping, testing and analyzing batteries and the materials that go into them — promises to be a key enabler for Southeast Michigan's battery supply chain.