Research
  /  
Areas of Research
Energy and Sustainability

Developing efficient energy conversion, energy utilization, water management, and pollution mitigation solutions with minimal environmental impact

Sustainable access to energy and clean water using low carbon emission technologies is essential to address climate change. We are inventing new technological solutions using integrated approaches rooted in computational mechanical-material science, surface engineering, thermo-fluids science and engineering, design, and manufacturing.

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Research Area Subtopics

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Customizable smart window improves energy efficiency
of buildings. (W. Chen, C. Sun)

Energy Conversion and Storage

Increasing energy demand needs to be met without adversely affecting the environment. This is possible only with clean and efficient energy supply technologies. To that end, we are designing, fabricating, and testing novel materials for more efficient solar, thermal (steam), and chemical (solid-state batteries) energy conversion and storage systems.





A molecular view of the Leidenfrost state (N. Patankar, T. Zhao)
A molecular view of the Leidenfrost state.
(N. Patankar, T. Zhao)

Efficient Energy Utilization

Reduction of greenhouse emissions relies on efficient energy utilization, which can be accomplished by designing effective energy-matter interaction and low-friction interface. We are developing new technologies to mitigate problems due to icing and fouling, reduce friction and wear at surfaces in contact, and improve efficiency in HVAC and thermal transport systems.


View video about efficient energy utilization


Molecular dynamics of water transport through a nanofiltration membrane (R. Lueptow, S. Keten)
Molecular dynamics of water transport through a
nanofiltration membrane. (R. Lueptow, S. Keten)

Water Management

The United Nations estimates that approximately two thirds of the world population will suffer from water stress by 2025. New technologies to reduce water use and to recycle water are needed. We are innovating fog and dew collection, filtration, and brine purification technologies to reduce water use in energy, agricultural, and manufacturing sectors.





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The pollution challenge.(K.-C. Park, Creative Commons
License)

Pollution Mitigation

Microplastic particles, oil spills, and smog are representative examples of water and air pollution. Innovative solutions based on interfacial and transport phenomena are urgently needed to solve these problems. To address this challenge, we are developing technologies to capture smog and toxic liquid drops from air, and microplastics and oil from water.



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Life cycle assessment is a modeling framework for
assessing the sustainability of manufactured products.
(J. Dunn)

Cradle-to-cradle Sustainability Analysis

We work in interdisciplinary teams to design and deploy new energy, water, and materials systems that address environmental and societal challenges. Examples include bio-derived electronics designed for circularity, polymers that incorporate renewable feedstocks and are designed for recyclability, and membranes that improve energy and nutrient recovery in water treatment systems.

ME Faculty

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Oluwaseyi Balogun

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering

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Sandip Ghosal

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics

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Seth Lichter

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

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Richard Lueptow

Professor of Mechanical Engineering (and by courtesy) Chemical and Biological Engineering

Senior Associate Dean for Research

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K.-C Kenneth Park

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

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Neelesh Patankar

Professor and Associate Chair of Mechanical Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics

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John Rudnicki

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering

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Q. Jane Wang

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

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Courtesy Faculty

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Ange-Therese Akono

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (by courtesy) Mechanical Engineering

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Zdeněk Bažant

McCormick Institute Professor, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and (by courtesy) Mechanical Engineering and Material Science and Engineering

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Jennifer Dunn

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and (by courtesy) Mechanical Engineering

Associate Director, Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience

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Julio Ottino

Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and (by courtesy) Mechanical Engineering

Distinguished Robert R. McCormick Institute Professor

Dean

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Aaron Packman

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and (by courtesy) Mechanical Engineering and Chemical and Biological Engineering

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