Securing a clean, sustainable and vibrant energy future requires a multifaceted approach. Researchers at the University of Michigan are improving the technologies to deploy clean energy sources—wind, solar, hydrogen, and bioenergy—and are confronting the societal challenges and opportunities that will accompany the shift away from carbon-intensive sources. The U-M Battery Lab is finding new ways to maximize storage of renewable sources, and the Urban Energy Justice Lab emphasizes how future energy development can ensure fair and equitable access to energy.
Portico Fall 2021: Larissa Larsen on a new energy landscape
“Meeting the climate challenge means making significant changes to our daily lives. One important component of that change is our energy landscape. Shifting from coal, gas, and natural gas toward cleaner renewables will require building new infrastructure.”
New guide helps Michigan communities plan for solar energy
As Michigan utilities look to meet clean energy regulations and transition to renewables, a new guide is available to help communities across the state address solar-energy-system, or SES, siting within their planning policies and zoning regulations.
Ford, SEAS students get up close and personal with renewable energy
Nearly 30 students from the Ford School and SEAS recently got a view of Michigan that will become increasingly familiar, visiting a 239 MW solar energy installation in Shiawassee County and a 150 MW wind park in Middleton. As the state moves toward its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, more sites like these will dot the landscape—especially in rural areas.
Energy from waste: $6.8 million for cow-inspired biodigesters
Cattle are supremely efficient at digesting tough materials, and a proposed energy-production system based, in part, on cow stomachs could generate 40% more power from municipal waste streams, at a 20% reduced cost—and provide a viable alternative to sending waste to landfills.
100% renewable diesel cars can reduce carbon emissions while waiting for electric vehicles
While the move from petroleum fuels to biofuels is not as environmentally drastic as a complete transition from diesel to electric motor power, switching to vehicles run with biofuels is a more immediate solution. Even though it is estimated that half of new cars sold will be electric in the year 2030, it will still take many more years after to make a significant dent in greenhouse gas emissions.
$2M to replace fossil fuels with solar power in fertilizer production
Producing the fertilizer that helps feed Earth’s 7.8 billion people comes with an environmental cost—one that U-M engineers are hoping to lessen with a new strategy that favors sunlight over fossil fuels. The National Science Foundation has awarded U-M researchers $2 million to study the effectiveness of a new ammonia production process aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Solar cells with 30-year lifetimes for power-generating windows
“Solar energy is about the cheapest form of energy that mankind has ever produced since the industrial revolution,” said Stephen Forrest, the Peter A. Franken Distinguished University Professor of Electrical Engineering, who led the research. “With these devices used on windows, your building becomes a power plant.”
Raimi maps U.S. energy economy in new report
How will actions taken towards preventing climate change affect communities that rely on a fossil fuel economy? In a recent report titled "Mapping the US Energy Economy to Inform Transition Planning," Daniel Raimi, Ford School lecturer and fellow at Resources for the Future, explored the economic consequences of moving away from fossil fuels for those communities.
SEAS professor Tony Reames tapped by DOE to lead energy justice policy
Dr. Tony Reames, an assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), has been appointed a Senior Advisor to the Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. In this role, Reames will be responsible for energy justice policy and analysis to ensure energy investments and benefits reach frontline communities and Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.
Next-gen electric vehicle batteries: These are the questions we still need to answer
The next generation of electric vehicle batteries, with greater range and improved safety, could be emerging in the form of lithium metal, solid-state technology. But key questions about this promising power supply need to be answered before it can make the jump from the laboratory to manufacturing facilities, according to U-M researchers.
U-M Energy Equity Project to develop first standardized tool for driving equity in clean energy industry
Despite widespread calls for a just transition to cleaner, more resilient energy systems, there isn’t a standardized measurement framework for evaluating the equity of clean energy programs. As a result, utility administrators, regulators, and energy advocates have been judging equity on an ad hoc basis. The Urban Energy Justice Lab at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability announced a new program aimed at addressing this gap.
U-M carbon neutrality commission submits final recommendations
The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality at the University of Michigan has submitted its final report, which contains recommendations to help the university achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The report includes 50 recommendations that U-M could take to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.
U-M Battery Lab to join Michigan Materials Research Institute
In an effort to drive the commercialization of more affordable, higher-capacity batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage, the U-M Battery Fabrication and Characterization Facility will join the Michigan Materials Research Institute (MMRI). The North Campus facility, better known simply as the Battery Lab, enables academic and industry researchers to work together to build and test batteries.
U-M Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program awards $1.75M in grants to seven research projects
The Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program at U-M’s Graham Sustainability Institute has awarded research grants to seven projects aimed at reducing net carbon emissions. The first round of funding was awarded to projects that investigate groundbreaking energy-storage and carbon-capture technologies, innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions in agriculture, and new options for lowering the carbon footprint of U-M student diets.
Mills and Craig selected for Department of Energy grant to study utility-scale solar
Sarah Mills, senior project manager at the Center on Local, State, and Urban Policy, and Michael Craig, assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability, have been selected for a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The two will research how rural communities in the Great Lakes region learn about and decide whether to zone for utility-scale solar.
Carbon neutrality commission releases draft recommendations
The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality, charged with recommending scalable and transferable strategies for U-M to achieve net-zero emissions, has released its preliminary draft recommendations for public comment. The draft report includes a collection of steps that U-M could take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the Flint, Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses, including Michigan Medicine.
Mirror-like photovoltaics get more electricity out of heat
New heat-harnessing “solar” cells that reflect 99% of the energy they can’t convert to electricity could help bring down the price of storing renewable energy as heat, as well as harvesting waste heat from exhaust pipes and chimneys.
U-M Solar Car Team doubles down on a proven design
Under the hot Australian sun, the U-M Solar Car Team hopes its overhauled electrical system and tightly packed trapezoid solar cells will power their car to gold at the 1,800-mile Bridgestone World Solar Challenge this fall.
Energy access is not created equal. This Ann Arbor organization is trying to change that
There are three tenets of energy justice. The first is distributional justice, which focuses on the benefits and burdens of energy generation. The second is procedural justice, which considers access to participation in the energy decision-making process. The third is recognition justice, which is the identification of energy injustices affecting specific populations.
The U-M Battery Lab: Where invention and manufacturing meet
The Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility, or Battery Lab, is an open user facility designed to allow researchers from academia and industry to work with experts in the nation’s most complete, customized battery research user facility.