Norbert Müller Work Featured in Popular Science

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January 27, 2011

Norbert Müller’s wave disk engine work is prominently featured in the February issue of Popular Science.

Last August, when officials from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) visited MSU’s engine research laboratory to observe the progress of two ARPA-E–funded projects, they were accompanied by Popular Science journalist Tom Clynes.

Müller, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MSU, demonstrated his wave disk engine for Arun Majumdar, ARPA-E director, and Eric Toone, ARPA-E deputy director and chief technology officer. R. Mark Worden, MSU professor of chemical engineering and materials science, presented updates on a bioreactor project.

Müller’s group had received $2.5 million from ARPA-E earlier in 2010 to build and develop the wave disk engine, which uses turbo combustion “shock wave” technology to convert either liquid fuel or compressed natural gas or hydrogen into electrical power. With this engine, fuel efficiency for hybrid vehicles could increase five times compared to internal combustion engine vehicles on the road today, while reducing costs by 30 percent. The goal of Müller’s team is to produce an engine that would give hybrid vehicles a 500-mile driving range and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 90 percent.

Worden is part of a group that received $1.7 million in ARPA-E funding to build a reactor system for Ralstonia eutropha, a bacterium that scientists aim to engineer to metabolize hydrogen and carbon dioxide to produce isobutanol, a fuel that can be used as a replacement for gasoline.

Read the Popular Science article