Erb Institute blogger – Energy Secretary Chu Fields Questions at ECO:nomics

In a post from "Sustainability," the blog from the Erb Institute, master's student Chris Zwicke recounts remarks by Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu at "ECO:nomics," a conference convened by the Wall Street Journal held to discuss issues related to business and the environment. [Read more...]

Micro-scale energy harvester converts vibrations to electricity

A new energy-harvesting device developed at the University of Michigan can transform kinetic energy from its surroundings into electricity. The small power generators developed at the NSF Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems are highly efficient at providing renewable electrical power from arbitrary non-periodic vibrations. This type of vibration is a byproduct of traffic driving on bridges, machinery operating in factories and humans moving their limbs, for example. [Read more...]

New approach yields progress in breaking down a greenhouse gas

A recent discovery in understanding how to chemically break down the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into a useful form opens the doors for scientists to wonder what organism is out there—or could be created—to accomplish the task. University of Michigan biological chemist Steve Ragsdale, along with research assistant Elizabeth Pierce and scientists led by Fraser Armstrong from the University of Oxford in the U.K., have figured out a way to efficiently turn carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using sunlight or other forms of visible light. [Read more...]

Higher gas taxes likely to have low effect in reducing carbon emissions

Increasing the federal gasoline tax would have only minimal effects in reducing vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, says a University of Michigan economist. For example, a 10-cent increase in gas taxes would lower U.S. carbon emissions from the transportation sector by about 1.5 percent and decrease total U.S. carbon emissions (from all sectors) by about 0.5 percent, says Lutz Kilian, U-M professor of economics. "Although not negligible, this is small when compared to recent annual increases in carbon emissions," he said. "To put this estimate in context, total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.1 percent annually between 1990 and 2007, so a 10-cent gasoline-tax increase would approximately offset half a year of growth in total U.S. emissions." [Read more...]

U-M forges Korean partnership and industry to push solar technology to market

A new international partnership positions two universities and a leading company to put low-cost solar cell technology on a fast track to market. The University of Michigan is joining with Dankook University in South Korea and Korean government Ministry of Knowledge and Economy in a four-year research project to ramp up efficiency for organic photovoltaic technology (OPV) while driving down costs, said Stephen Forrest, U-M vice president for research and a lead scientist in the project. The highly flexible and ultra-thin OPVs will enable large-scale solar energy generation directly integrated into roofs, walls, building materials and even transparent windows in a variety of colors. [Read more...]

U-M announces plan to transform campus information technology organization

NextGen Michigan, a multi-year strategy for employing state-of-the-art technology to advance the U-M mission, kicks off this month. Provost Teresa Sullivan and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tim Slottow are leading the effort. Over the past six months, Sullivan and Slottow set the groundwork for the strategy with Dan Atkins, associate vice president for research cyberinfrastructure; Paul Courant, university librarian and dean of libraries; Jocelyn DeWitt, chief information officer for U-M Hospitals and Health Centers; John King, vice provost for academic information; and Laura Patterson associate vice president for Information and Technology Services and chief information officer. “We believe that NextGen Michigan will foster a similar level of innovative thinking. Technology’s pervasive influence in all we do is critical to maintaining our leadership in research, teaching and learning,” Sullivan says. [Read more...]

Can autos do more than transport us?

No more sitting idle for hours in racking up payments, but instead Imagine your car earning its keep by helping store power for the electricity grid instead of just doing nothing in parking lots or garages all day. "Cars sit most of the time," said Jeff Stein, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Michigan. "What if it could work for you while it sits there? If you could use a car for something more than just getting to work or going on a family vacation, it would be a whole different way to think about a vehicle, and a whole different way to think about the power grid, too." Stein leads a National Science Foundation-funded team exploring plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) that not only use grid electricity to meet their power needs, but also the car's potential to store electricity from the wind or sun, or even feed electricity back into the grid, earning money for the owner. [Read more...]

NCRC Update: New research model, call for proposals announced

Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, executive vice president for medical affairs, today announced a new research model for the North Campus Research Complex and called for proposals by faculty teams to form research clusters on the former Pfizer campus. In an e-mail to the U-M community, Pescovitz also said the NCRC will house research on health services, biointerfaces and imaging. [Read more...]

Universities Highlight Benefits of Stimulus Research Funding

On the first anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – the economic stimulus – the nation’s research universities today provided nearly 100 examples of how a relatively small element of the measure is paying outsize short- and long-term dividends for the nation. Of the $787 billion contained in the ARRA, $21.5 billion is allocated for research and science infrastructure. U-M examples on the list include the $19.5 M center for solar energy conversion materials research and a grant for stem cell research. [Read more...]

Enertia Wins 2009-2010 Clean Energy Prize

Enertia, featuring Ross MBA student Adam Carver and two colleagues at the U-M College of Engineering, won the top prize of $50,000 in the 2009-2010 Clean Energy Prize business plan competition. Team Enertia wowed the judges with its plan for a device that can harness vibrations to generate electricity to power small electronics, such as remote sensors and surgically implanted medical equipment. The small generators can extend the lifetime of wireless electronic devices tenfold, while at the same time replacing toxic electrochemical batteries. [Read more...]