News & Events


Energy in the News: Wednesday, November 21

A couple reminders, so these events don’t sneak up on you after the break:

November 30: Our own Ellen Hughes-Cromwick is part of the slate of speakers scheduled for the 2018 Nobel Symposium at the LSA Center for Complex Systems; she’ll be discussing the work of Prize recipients William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer – for ‘integrating climate change’ (the former) and for ‘integrating technological innovations’ (the latter) ‘into long-run macroeconomic analysis’. See the full slate of speakers and add to your calendar here.

Candidates for the new SEAS faculty position in Energy Systems will be visiting during the next couple of weeks- here’s a mini guide to the dates, times, and titles of their job talks.

Michael Davidson, PhD, Post-doctoral Research Fellow
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
“Bringing Wind to Market: Will China’s Power Market Reforms Benefit Renewables?”
Wednesday, November 28 | 3:00-4:30p.m., 2024 Dana

Michael Craig, PhD, Research Engineer
Power System Design and Studies, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
“Interactions between the Electric Power Sector and Climate Change”
Monday, December 3 | 4:00-5:30p.m., 1040 Dana

Dharik Mallapragada, PhD, Post-doctoral Research Associate
MIT Energy Initiative
“Advanced decision-support tools for planning a low-carbon electricity systems with increased variable renewables generation”
Thursday, December 6 | 4:00-5:30p.m., 2024 Dana

Mohammad Masnadi, PhD, Research Associate
Department of Energy Resources Engineering
School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
“Oil production in a climate constrained world”
Monday, December 10 | 4:00-5:30p.m., 1040 Dana

The government aims to boost ethanol without evidence that it saves money or helps the environment
The Conversation, by Andre Boehman
President Donald Trump has promised his supporters in Iowa that the federal government will take a step that may increase corn ethanol sales.
This plant-derived fuel, which comprises about 10 percent of the 143 billion gallons of gasoline Americans buy each year, is a kind of alcohol made from corn. The industry first emerged in 1980s with government support, after interest in making the country less reliant on imported oil surged in the 1970s. It later acquired a second purpose: lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
I have spent the last 24 years studying alternative fuels and fuel blends. Based on my research, and as a consumer, I can say that increasing the amount of ethanol blended with gasoline creates problems with older engines and potentially increases air pollution due to increased fuel evaporation while doing little to curb climate change.
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A new lead on a 50-year-old radiation damage mystery
Michigan Engineering
It happened too fast to observe with an experiment, and yet it seemed to take too long for a computer simulation to reveal: certain loops of displaced atoms would appear inside steel that had been exposed to radiation with no viable explanation. But now, a simulation done by researchers at the University of Michigan, Hunan University (China), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has shown how a shockwave produces these loops in iron. The result could help engineers design better radiation-resistant steel for reactors—or stronger steel in general.
Iron and steel, like most metals, organize themselves in a crystal lattice—an arrangement of atoms based on a repeated pattern. In this case, it’s a cube with an atom at each corner and one in the center. Radiation and other stresses can create a variety of defects. In “loop” defects, the out-of-place atoms form rough rings. Some loops can travel through the lattice, and their mobility means that they don’t get in the way of the steel bending. But the defect in question (known as a <100> interstitial dislocation loop) tends to stay put. Placed in an uncontrolled way, these stationary loops cause brittleness, but if they were placed deliberately, they could strengthen steel by improving its stiffness.
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AP FACT CHECK: Trump puts fighting words in Macron’s mouth
Associated Press, featuring Jonathan Overpeck
The dean of the University of Michigan’s environmental school, Jonathan Overpeck, said Western fires are getting bigger and more severe. He said it “is much less due to bad management and is instead the result of our baking of our forests, woodlands and grasslands with ever-worsening climate change.”
Wildfires have become more devastating because of the extreme weather swings from global warming, fire scientists said. The average number of U.S. acres burned by wildfires has doubled from 30 years ago.
California also has been in drought for all but a few years of the 21st century and is now experiencing its longest drought, which began on Dec. 27, 2011, and has lasted 358 weeks, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Nearly two-thirds of the state is abnormally dry.
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Jonathan Overpeck was also quoted in Fox News.

Combining real, virtual worlds improves driverless vehicle testing
University of Michigan News Service
Augmented reality technology can accelerate testing of connected and automated vehicles by 1,000 to 100,000 times, and reduce additional testing costs — beyond the price of physical vehicles—to almost zero, according to a new white paper published by Mcity.
Augmented reality combines the real world with a virtual world to create a faster, more efficient and economical approach to testing connected and automated vehicles at the University of Michigan’s Mcity Test Facility.
This unique testing methodology is outlined in the new white paper, published today. Mcity is a U-M led public-private partnership working to advance the development of connected and automated vehicles.
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The 25 most innovative cities in US share affinity for technology
USA Today
When you think of Ann Arbor, Michigan, you think of the University of Michigan. And Ann Arbor has a well-educated workforce. The percentage of adults in the city of about 359,000 with a bachelor’s degree or above is 54.5 percent, the second highest share on the list. Just over 95 percent of adult residents have a high school diploma, the 10th highest high school graduation rate of U.S. cities.
The University of Michigan has developed a destination for entrepreneurship and innovation called, Innovate Blue that supports and helps connect the university’s entrepreneurs. Innovate Blue claims to have more than 15 programs and centers in entrepreneurship. The university hopes to capitalize on the state’s legacy of innovation. It was over 100 years ago in Michigan that Henry Ford revolutionized the manufacturing business model by developing the assembly line that produced millions of Model T cars.
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Climate Solutions: Is It Feasible to Remove Enough CO2 from the Air?
Yale Environment 360
Is there still time to avoid runaway climate change? To a large degree, the answer depends on the feasibility of “negative emissions” — techniques or technologies that suck CO2 out of the air. In the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), all scenarios for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius depend on negative emissions technologies, or NETs. Most 2-degree scenarios also rely on negative emissions; many call for removing billions of tons of CO2 per year by mid-century.
Yet most NETs remain either untested or unproved. To help bridge this gap, the National Academies convened a panel of scientists and asked it to propose a research agenda. The panel considered several possible techniques, ranging from the low-tech — planting more trees — to the high-tech — developing machines to scrub CO2 from the sky. It also looked at a hybrid technology that has become known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS. The panel recommended several billion dollars be directed to research on NETs. Such technologies, it suggested, ought to be viewed as a “component of the mitigation portfolio,” rather than as a futuristic, last-ditch effort to reduce atmospheric CO2.
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