Washington State University

Research Forums

The School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Research Forums

Interdisciplinary Excellence Built On World-Class Knowledge

Advanced Energy Focus

Energy is of vital importance to our nation. Ensuring secure and sustainable energy supplies is critical to our economy and way of life. A core of faculty in the College of Engineering and Architecture have teamed together to create a focused research group addressing the advanced energy conversion needs in industrial, commercial, residential, and transportation sectors. There is a pressing need for high energy density micro power generation systems. Devices such as portable computers, cellular phones, autonomous robotic systems, micro air vehicles, picosatelites and distributed, unattended biological, chemical and environmental sensing systems all require significant amounts of electrical power from very compact power supplies with large energy storage capability. The energy densities of existing electrochemical batteries are significantly lower than required and thus alternative means to store energy and generate electrical power must be found. On the micro scale, research on portable and distributed power is performed by several faculties in this group.

Dynamic heat engines have the potential of high energy and power density. Professors Cill Richards and Bob Richards focus on the development of novel heat engines for the production of electrical power from waste heat. Together these three faculty have developed the P3, a micro heat engine that produces electrical power from waste heat. Professor Konstantin Matveev specializes in thermoacoustic devices which can be used for energy generation and refrigeration. He is developing a small scale thermoacoustic engine for portable power generation.

Fuel cells also offer great promise as portable power sources. Professors Su Ha and Prashanta Dutta are working to develop micro scale fuel cells and new catalysts for fuel cells. Professor Su Ha is also working on micro scale Formic acid fuel cells and bio fuel cells.

More than 85% of the energy needs of the industrial, commercial, residential, and transportation sectors in the United States is derived from the combustion of fuels. In addition to developing applied conversion technologies, fundamental research on the combustion of fuel; as well as, alternatives to fuel is conducted by several faculty members. Professors Ahn is focused on the development of ultra low temperature combustion and the development of micro combusters. Professor C. Richards specializes in spray combustion and fuel-air mixing. To reduce our dependence on foreign oil both alternative power sources and means of generation are investigated. Professor R. Richards is an expert on alternative energy and power cycles. Professor Matveev is a specialist on energy reduction strategies for marine propulsion.

These faculty; P. Dutta, Ha, Leachman, Matveev, Richards, and Richards form the nucleus for advanced energy research at WSU. They collaborate with faculty from chemical engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, and physics.

Faculty Profiles

pictureOn this visit we highlight:
Marvin J Pitts
Clinical Professor and Program Coordinator
Ph.D., Agricultural Engineering with MME since 2010, more...
School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, PO Box 642920, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-2920, 509-335-8654, Contact Us