Donald Morelli receives international honor

Nov. 1, 2021

ChEMS professor honored for thermoelectric achievement

A professor of chemical engineering and materials science at Michigan State University has been awarded the 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award from the International Thermoelectric Society (ITS).

Donald Morelli
Donald Morelli

Donald Morelli was selected for his distinguished scholarship and dedicated service as an ITS member.

Morelli studies thermoelectric technology – an environmentally friendly method of taking waste heat sources and turning them into electricity.

“To me, this award represents a recognition by all of my colleagues and collaborators internationally of my scholarship in the field of thermoelectricity and my efforts on behalf of the society to further its mission across the globe,” he said.

Christina Chan, interim chairperson of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (ChEMS), praised Morelli’s many contributions.

“In addition to Don Morelli's own research in thermoelectrics, his scientific and administrative leadership at MSU has helped to build an internationally recognized group advancing alternative energy technologies,” Chan said.

Tetrahedrites help in the creation of a low cost, widespread technology for converting heat to electricity.

In 2018, Morelli was awarded the MSU Innovation of the Year Award for using tetrahedrites in thermoelectric technology. Tetrahedrites are naturally occurring minerals that can be synthesized in a lab. The discovery of tetrahedrites is an integral step in the process of creating a low cost, widespread technology for converting heat to electricity.

Morelli joined MSU in 2007. He led MSU’s ChEMS department from 2015 until August 2021. His scholarly contribution to thermoelectricity and related research areas includes 150 published scientific papers, coauthoring seven book chapters, and receiving 24 U.S. patents. His ongoing research focus is on developing new materials for energy conversion applications.

“While much of my work in thermoelectrics over the past years has been directed at a fundamental understanding of the science of these materials, my current efforts are focusing on how to make this technology more manufacturable so that it can have a positive impact on our utilization of energy in the future,” he added.

Written by Kee-Ri Burkitt, student writer for the MSU College of Engineering