Entry Date:
January 10, 2007

Energy Science and Engineering

The Energy Science and Engineering area seeks to focus on technologies for efficient energy conversion and utilization, which aim to meet the urgent challenge of a safe, sustainable energy supply in the face of growing demand and increasing geo-political uncertainty.

Energy conversion engineering is one of the foundational activities that define mechanical engineering. MechE has been involved in energy conversion technologies since its inception, with programs in steam engines (1870-1950), internal combustion engines (1920s-present), gas turbines (1920s-1930s), and low-temperature refrigeration (1940s-present). Current research is moving into new areas with the goals of lessening reliance on fossil fuels (by introducing more sustainable forms of energy) and preserving the environment (by reducing emissions from fossil fuel energy conversion). We believe this represents mankind's most urgent technological challenge.

Current energy program includes both new and existing technologies at the systems and scientific levels. Aside from well-established activities in engines and combustion at both levels, we have expanded research in thermoelectricity, fuel cells, and batteries. We are also involved in solar and wind power systems.

Overall, our research spans the following technical areas: automotive power plants and ocean propulsion systems; fossil fuel combustion; wind power; solar energy; electrochemical energy storage; thermoelectric technologies; fuel cells; hydrogen production and storage; refrigeration; thermohydraulics of power systems; energy efficiency in a wide range of systems; ocean energy; certain aspects of nuclear energy; hybrid engines; thermal management of electronics; and energy efficient buildings. Work on these subjects involves both creative synthesis and engineering design.

Efforts in technology are grounded in a deep appreciation of the fundamental sciences, including research in these areas: thermodynamics of coupled phenomena; thermochemical and electrochemical reaction; transport phenomena, including heat and mass transfer and electrochemical phenomena; solid-state phenomena, including photo, thermal, and electrical aspects; nanosciences; surface phenomena; deep ocean processes; and various aspects of fluid dynamics. The tools we use include computation, experimentation, and analysis.