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Climate change is caused and accelerated primarily by the burning of carbon-based fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas. Impacts of the climate crisis depend on the scope, speed, and willingness of society to transition to a low- or zero-carbon economy. University of Michigan experts are leading new green fuel development and assessing the continued viability of fossil fuels, the economic and environmental harm that they exact on society, and innovations toward carbon management. Researchers are focusing on everything from gains in fuel efficiency to developments, investments, and innovations toward a circular carbon economy. Central to this analysis is the Global CO2 Initiative, which aims to turn a liability into an asset through the development of CO2 removal and utilization technologies and solutions.

News and Impact

Larissa Larsen
Portico Fall 2021: Larissa Larsen on a new energy landscape
University of Michigan researchers, including Tim Fairley-Wax, a research lab specialist associate, are working on a new biodigester that converts organic solid waste from trash and wastewater into renewable methane. The digester mirrors the ability of a cow’s stomach to efficiently break down substances. Photo: Robert Coelius/Michigan Engineering
Energy from waste: $6.8 million for cow-inspired biodigesters
an autoworker finishing the detail of a car
100% renewable diesel cars can reduce carbon emissions while waiting for electric vehicles
Andrew Gayle, a graduate student research assistant, and Alexander Hill, a graduate student instructor, monitor a new reactor designed to produce ammonia for fertilizer without relying on fossil fuels. Image credit: Robert Coelius, Michigan Engineering
$2M to replace fossil fuels with solar power in fertilizer production
food samples
Small changes in diet could help you live healthier, more sustainably
fleet of vans
Electric delivery vehicles: When, where, how they’re charged has big impact on greenhouse gas emissions
Daniel Raimi
Raimi maps U.S. energy economy in new report
a student working on a carbon capture project
First-ever DACC-A-THON student competition launched
Enbridge's Line 5 crosses Lake Michigan near the Mackinac Bridge, descending to a depth of roughly 270 feet as it runs along the lakebed. Animation: Steve Alvey, University of Michigan, College of Engineering.
The future of Line 5: Engineering under Lake Michigan
solar panels on an arid terrain
U-M Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program awards $1.75M in grants to seven research projects
a lightbulb icon in front of a laptop
Virtual conference CO2 emissions quantified in new study
The commission is inviting U-M students, staff, faculty and community members to review proposed recommendations and submit feedback and ideas by Jan. 22, 2021, via an online public comment portal.
Carbon neutrality commission releases draft recommendations
Catherine Hausman
Research into action: Hausman’s research key to new legislation
Shrimp-like crustaceans called amphipods collected from the Mariana Trench in the northwest Pacific Ocean. Image credit: Paul Yancey
Fish carcasses deliver toxic mercury pollution to the deepest ocean trenches
Pictured is the red, iron-stained Saviukviayak River on the North Slope, Alaska. Image credit: Rose Cory
Carbon emission from permafrost soils underestimated by 14%
Hua, pictured here in Guilin, China, learned about the importance of balancing consumption and preservation during his travels.
Driving toward sustainability
Map shows sources of Chinese carbon dioxide emissions tied to products consumed overseas in 2012. Orange and red locations are hotspots for Chinese emissions that are tied to exports. A new University of Michigan-led study tracked Chinese emissions to a small number of coastal manufacturing hubs and showed that about 1% of the country’s land area is responsible for 75% of the export-linked CO2 emissions. Image credit: From Yang et al., Nature Communications 2020
Carbon footprint hotspots: Mapping China’s export-driven emissions
UM-Dearborn College of Engineering and Computer Science
Engineers’ Deafening Silence on Climate Change
As coal declines, even plants that are still open are used far less. Emissions spew from a large stack at the coal-fired Brandon Shores Power Plant in Baltimore. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Coal-fired power plants hit a milestone in reduced operation
A pair of smokestacks exhaust gases into the air
Why removing CO2 from the air won’t be enough
An SUV travels down a tree-lined road
Teach-in on auto efficiency