Archive for 'Energy Independence'

Future looks bright for carbon nanotube solar cells

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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In an approach that could challenge silicon as the predominant photovoltaic cell material, UW-Madison materials engineers have developed an inexpensive solar cell that exploits carbon nanotubes to absorb and convert energy from the sun. The advance could lead to solar panels just as efficient, but much less expensive to manufacture, than current panels. The proof-of-concept [...]

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From helix to donut

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Understanding how a Pegasus plasma forms Because the UW-Madison experiment Pegasus is among the world’s most compact tokamaks, the device plays a unique role in global efforts to develop fusion as a viable energy source. In particular, Pegasus—a very-low-aspect-ratio tokamak that has a small center hole and nearly spherical shape—serves as a testbed for plasma [...]

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It’s a collaboration with chemistry

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Dow Chemical invests in university talent and technology In an effort to strengthen disciplines that align with its strategic goals, Dow Chemical Company has invested $14.5 million over five years in research at UW-Madison. Part of a broader funding program Dow launched in 2011 at 11 universities, the initiative combines expertise in engineering and chemistry [...]

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Growing the suite of bio-based chemicals

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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When Steenbock and Michel Boudart Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering James Dumesic looks at a dried corn stalk, he sees the energy embedded within it. For years, Dumesic and his colleagues have made major contributions to the science and process of converting plant waste into transportation fuel. And while renewable fuels historically have been [...]

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With 400th PhD grad, UW-Madison celebrates half a century of fusion energy

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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In the 1930s and ‘40s, many researchers studied ways to use fusion, the reaction in which atomic nuclei collide, fuse and release energy, to develop atomic weapons. Later, researchers would begin to focus on beneficial applications of fusion, including developing plants that would produce electrical energy for society. Noted physicist Don Kerst was among those [...]

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Biofuel conversion process cuts costly separation step

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by .

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Using a biomass-derived solvent, UW-Madison chemical and biological engineers have streamlined the process for converting lignocellulosic biomass into high-demand chemicals or energy-dense liquid transportation fuel. Their new method eliminates the need for costly pre-treatment steps that separate hemicellulose and cellulose, two main components of plant biomass that react at different rates. Pretreatment and extraction or [...]

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Gustafson named to National Academy of Engineering

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by .

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In February, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) named David Gustafson to its 2013 class of new members. Gustafson is director of the UW-Madison Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies and a professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering. The academy cited Gustafson for industrial and systems engineering methods to improve care for aging patients [...]

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Love of big ideas led inventor to Wisconsin project

Posted on 10. Dec, 2012 by .

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Fourteen years ago, Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering Gerald Kulcinski sat down for lunch with a fellow member of the National Academy of Engineering during a Washington, D.C., event. The two had never met, but had an enthusiastic exchange of ideas about their respective research interests. That’s common at big scientific meetings, but this was [...]

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A tool to test seafaring biofuels

Posted on 30. Aug, 2012 by .

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Because fossil fuels are a limited resource largely controlled by other nations, the U.S. Navy—the largest user of diesel fuel in the country—understandably is interested in alternative fuels that can be produced in the United States. However, the Navy has some unique needs for powering its fleet of ships, submarines, aircraft carriers, and other marine [...]

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In theory, plasma heals itself

Posted on 29. Aug, 2012 by .

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The world’s largest stellarator uses external magnetic coils to generate fields that can contain the extreme conditions required to fuse nuclei. The Large Helical Device (LHD) operating in Japan creates a magnetic bottle that can hold hot plasma with the intention of re-creating conditions for nuclear fusion akin to those on the sun. Shaping and [...]

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Digging into energy from the earth

Posted on 29. Aug, 2012 by .

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Drawing on data gathered from a heavily instrumented Adams County, Wisconsin, home, Engineering Professional Development and Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor James Tinjum is seeking to provide scientific support for a deep insulated single-hole (DISH) geothermal heat pump system, a novel heating and cooling method that capitalizes on heat stored in geological structures deep [...]

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Creative energy: In new building, microgrid lab will spark practical solutions

Posted on 20. Apr, 2012 by .

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When the Wisconsin Energy Institute building opens on the UW-Madison campus in early 2013, it will include a high-power microgrid that will combine real and simulated power sources capable of reproducing the inherent technical challenges associated with intermittent energy sources. “We want to be able to create all of the different operating conditions that are [...]

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Freight consortium picks up speed

Posted on 19. Apr, 2012 by .

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The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $3.5 million grant to the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE). Led by researchers at UW-Madison, CFIRE is a partnership among 10 U.S. universities and encompasses a geographical area that serves the majority of freight traffic in the United States. The new grant will [...]

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Benson, Carbon, among nation’s elite engineers

Posted on 19. Apr, 2012 by .

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On February 9, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) named two UW-Madison engineering faculty members to its 2012 class of new members. Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Geological Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering Craig Benson and Engineering Physics Professor Emeritus Max Carbon are among 66 new members and 10 foreign associates elected to the NAE [...]

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Optimizing internal combustion

Posted on 19. Apr, 2012 by .

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For decades, engineers have studied low-temperature combustion as a means of creating engines with diesel-like efficiency and no pollutant emissions. Yet, the very nature of low-temperature combustion involves a reaction with little active control: inject the fuels, mixing occurs, and then some time later, combustion starts. To investigate a new technique for measuring the temperature [...]

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Retaining quality faculty

Posted on 09. Dec, 2011 by .

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Collective giving effort keeps star prof on board The offer was expansive: a chance to join the leadership of a new center for environmental technology in a brand-new building and a brand-new lab, collaboration with one of the leaders in the field of environmental engineering, and a chance to work in a state—Arizona—with huge support [...]

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DOE awards UW-Madison engineers $5.6 million for future reactor technology

Posted on 06. Oct, 2011 by .

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The U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Energy University Program awarded five out of 51 grants nationwide to researchers in the Department of Engineering Physics. In total, DOE awarded $39 million in research grants aimed at developing cutting-edge nuclear energy technologies, and training and educating the next generation of leaders in the U.S. nuclear industry. Izabela [...]

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New ‘wave’ of energy research

Posted on 04. Oct, 2011 by .

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A renewable energy source that could serve the majority of the U.S. population often flows by unnoticed, even as it continuously rolls and crashes onto the shores of a country searching for petroleum alternatives. Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD student Jennifer Vining has brought the attention of Wisconsin Electric Machines & Power Electronics Consortium researchers [...]

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Engineers testify about coal combusion products, nuclear safety

Posted on 22. Jun, 2011 by .

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Nuclear expert testifies about U.S. reactor safety In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Japan and the effects of the resulting tsunami on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Engineering Physics Michael Corradini presented testimony April 6, 2011, to a U.S. House subcommittee about the state of U.S. nuclear plants and [...]

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Monroe manufacturer partners with UW-Madison on electric truck

Posted on 22. Jun, 2011 by .

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Monroe, Wisconsin, is a small city with a big reputation for its cheese. Now, a partnership between manufacturer Orchid Monroe and UW-Madison engineers may expand the city’s expertise to include clean vehicle technology. Orchid Monroe is providing support for researchers from the Wisconsin Electric Machines & Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) to develop a particularly rugged [...]

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UW-Madison fusion experiments earn nearly $11 million in grants

Posted on 21. Jun, 2011 by .

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Dating back nearly a half-century, the UW-Madison programs in plasma physics and fusion technology are among the oldest, broadest, largest and most productive programs of this kind in the nation. On campus, they include approximately 75 faculty and staff members, 60 graduate students and 30 undergraduate students whose education and research frequently cross departmental and [...]

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Air Force honors young researchers

Posted on 21. Jun, 2011 by .

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Three UW-Madison engineers are among 43 researchers to receive prestigious Air Force Young Investigator Research Program funding through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). The program is designed to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early-career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for those investigators to recognize the [...]

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Early-career engineers honored

Posted on 21. Jun, 2011 by .

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The National Science Foundation has recognized three promising young faculty members with prestigious CAREER awards. Funding from the awards supports their leading-edge research in communications technology, chip optimization, and bacterial engineering. Insect hearing inspires new approach to small antennas Ormia ochracea is a small parasitic fly best known for its strong sense of directional hearing. [...]

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Water-run scooter

Posted on 18. Oct, 2010 by .

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At first glance, a 50-cc Vespa scooter and a squad car may not appear to have much in common; however, the two connected in a partnership between a class of UW-Madison freshman engineering students and officials from Beloit, Wisconsin. The partnership made progress toward technologies that could eventually run a variety of vehicles on nothing [...]

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Growing solar, at the speed of light (almost)

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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Drawing on somewhat of an “old-school” crystal-growth method, Milton A. and J. Maude Shoemaker Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Tom Kuech and graduate student Kevin Schulte are studying how rapid synthesis affects the chemistry and electrical properties of gallium arsenide. Their results could point the way to faster, less costly manufacturing processes for solar cell [...]

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A Bright Idea

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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At age 15, Dan Ludois tried to convince his grandparents that the best way to run electricity to a shed in the corner of their farm was to use recycled parts from a microwave. At the time, his grandparents weren’t entirely convinced of the teenager’s technical credibility, but Ludois kept the idea in the back [...]

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Power plants: Technologies for green fuel

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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California bay trees and clumps of Cladophora algae in the shallows of Madison’s Lake Mendota may not, at first glance, appear to have much in common. However, both species are seeding the future of biofuels research at UW-Madison. Assistant Professor Brian Pfleger (pictured, with Botany Professor Linda Graham) is working to turn sugars from biomass [...]

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Engineers receive $3.7 million for nuclear research

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded UW-Madison engineering researchers nine of 42 total grants distributed through its Nuclear Energy University Program. The researchers received $3.7 million to advance nuclear education and develop the next generation of nuclear technologies. The research includes projects in fuel cycle research and development, generation IV reactor research and development, [...]

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Salt of the earth

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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Extracting oil, with heat With a material as simple as salt, engineering physics scientists and students are testing ways to store and transport heat for applications as diverse as storing solar energy and extracting oil. Their expertise is useful for oil companies such as Shell, which someday could use the powerful heat-transferring properties of molten [...]

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Fusion for energy—and medicine

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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The UW-Madison Fusion Technology Institute and Middleton, Wisconsin-based Phoenix Nuclear Labs (PNL) share an ambitious long-term goal: clean, abundant and affordable nuclear fusion power. To fund the pursuit, PNL is developing nuclear technologies into near-term solutions for modern-day global problems, including mitigating the risk of nuclear attack, producing state-of-the-art high-voltage power systems, and generating critical [...]

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