There are two groups on which we are building expanded research. The first group works on alternative energy sources, including solar cells, thermoelectric materials and biobased sources. We are very strong here. The second group focuses on transportation, aspects of which have had a long, successful history in the college. Near-term growth will occur in composite vehicles, ‘field-to-wheels’ studies for powertrain design, and hybrid vehicles.

MSU Energy Research Focuses on Thermoelectrics, Biofuels, and Battery Technologies

Image of speaker and sound wavesListen to Walt Sorg of 1320 WILS radio interview Satish Udpa, dean of the College of Engineering. (Click here - will open as a new web page.)



Strength Areas by Faculty

  • Venkatesh Balan: biomass process engineering, biomass conversion, renewable energy, value added products from agricultural residues and modeling integrated agricultural operations
  • Scott Calabrese Barton: electrochemical engineering with a focus in catalysis and transport in electrochemical energy systems, from experimental and theoretical perspectives

MSU Energy Research Takes on the Challenge of Developing Materials for Low-Cost Fuel Cells

Scott Calabrese Barton, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science, is addressing the challenge of finding catalysts for fuel cells that can achieve the job of producing power from fuel cells but have lower cost. His research focuses on the development and characterization of materials for fuel cells, particularly direct methanol fuel cells and biofuel cells. These materials will have a strong impact on future energy devices that possess the particular characteristic of minimal environmental impact.
See an interview with Scott Calabrese Barton on YouTube:

  • Bruce Dale: utilization of cellulose and other renewable resources, rate limiting processes in biological systems, modeling of integrated economic/environmental systems; Dale invented a unique process to help convert plant materials into fuels.

See an interview with Bruce Dale on YouTube:

MSU College of Engineering researchers have secured about $4 million in funding from multiple federal, state, and commercial organizations to develop the next generation of advanced battery and capacitor technology. Under the leadership of Jeff Sakamoto and Lawrence T. Drzal, professors of chemical engineering and materials science, new nanomaterials, nanomaterial architectures, processing techniques, and electrode designs are being developed to produce high-energy batteries and high-power super capacitors for the personal, transportation, and infrastructure sectors for both U.S. Department of Defense and civilian applications.

  • Lawrence Drzal: graphene; graphite; carbon; cellulose; nanoparticles; nanotechnology; nanocomposites, surfaces; interfaces; polymers, adhesion, surface chemistry; surface characterization; polymer composite processing; ultraviolet light

See an interview with Lawrence Drzal on YouTube:

  • David Hodge: biomass conversion; biobased industrial products; biotechnology; energy production; process optimization, modeling and control
  • Tonghun Lee: laser imaging of advanced propulsion, combustion and alternative advanced energy conversion systems
  • Richard Lunt: alternative energy and utilization, organic electronics, thin-film photovoltaics, organic light emitting diodes, colloidal quantum dots, vapor-phase deposition and quasi-epitaxy
  • Donald Morelli: semiconductors for energy conversion, new thermoelectric materials, thermal and electronic transport properties of solids
  • Norbert Mueller: turbomachinery, centrifugal compressors, wave rotors, refrigeration and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) with natural refrigerants, micro-fabricated energy systems

MSU is the lead institution in a new $12.5 million U.S. Department of Energy–sponsored Energy Frontier Research Center focusing on the study of thermoelectric energy conversion. Led by Donald Morelli, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, the team is developing methods to convert heat to electricity. Applications range from waste heat recovery from automobiles to solar thermal energy conversion.

See an interview with Donald Morelli on YouTube:

MSU Receives $2.5 Million DOE Award to Build Advanced Hybrid Engine

MSU received a $2.5 million federal stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a prototype new engine and generator technology that can dramatically improve efficiencies and reduce costs of electric hybrid vehicles. Led by Norbert Mueller, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, the team will work toward producing a vehicle-size engine/generator known as a wave disk generator during the next two years.

See an interview with Norbert Mueller on YouTube:

  • Fang Peng: power electronics, motor drives, hybrid electric vehicles, and renewable energy interface systems
  • Clark Radcliffe: design of dynamic systems, modeling, and control of mechatronic systems, numerical and experimental methods for dynamic model validation, software for optimal vibration isolation system design, acoustic response measurement, acoustic modeling and active control, Statistical Energy Analysis (SEA) of automotive structures, active control of continuous structures, controllable fluids such as electrorheological fluids, and magnetorheological fluids internet-based, distributed, engineering design
  • Jeff Sakamoto: ultraporous inorganic and organic gels for energy and biomedicine; ceramic oxide electrolytes for solid state lithium batteries and semi fuel cells, high temperature thermal insulation and highly ordered and hierarchically ordered organic gels for nerve repair

See an interview with Jeff Sakamoto on YouTube:

  • Elias Strangas: design, construction and testing of electrical machines, design and implementation of controls for machines and power electronics, fault diagnosis and failure prognosis in simple and complex drive systems, and the development of power electronics subsystems
  • Rodney Tabaczynski: thermodynamics, internal combustion engines, turbulent microscales, sustainable energy, electrification of the automobile and biofuels
  • John Verboncoeur: microwave-beam devices, charged particle beam optics, fusion and other energy applications, accelerators, plasma thrusters, low pressure discharges for plasma processing, and high pressure discharges including plasma display panels and fluorescent lamps
  • Bingsen Wang: modeling and control of power electronic systems, power converter topologies, application of power electronics in renewable energy generation, and vector control of AC electric drive systems.

Click here to read more about our faculty in Energy Research. Or click on the Research-Related Faculty block in the upper right corner.