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Research

WISER research activities are grouped according to the following core areas.

Energy Production

Guaranteeing sources of secure, environmentally safe and economically feasible energy is of critical national and international interest. WISER’s comprehensive strategy targets research, development, and education on energy supplies over the near and long terms. Near-term supply strategies include clean coal technology, methane from hydrates and tight sands formations, nuclear energy, and biofuels. Strategies addressing long-term supplies include renewable energy from solar, wind, and geothermal sources, and the use of hydrogen as both an energy carrier and storage.

Clean Coal Technology

Gasification of Solid Waste

Photo of coalHamid Arastoopour and Dimitri Gidaspow and their research team have developed a mathematical model for multi-size particle flow systems that is being used in the Department of Energy’s MFIX computer code for optimum design of coal gasification or other solid-fuels conversion based on the fluidized bed process. They currently are using both CFD models with population balance equations to develop more realistic advanced design needed for more efficient and cost-effective gasification systems. Learn more...

High-temperature Gas Cleaning

GTI Associate Professor Javad Abbasian and his team are conducting advanced research on gas separation and high-temperature gas cleaning, and have succeeded in developing highly reactive and attrition-resistant sorbents to capture sulfur compounds and CO2 from coal gas.

Mercury Waste Remediation from Coal

Associate Professor Herek Clack is conducting research on the mitigation of toxic products of combustion as part of a research project that earned him a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He is also working with the United Nations Environment Programme to develop and maintain a reference document of established best practices for reducing mercury emissions via coal combustion.

Production of Methane from Hydrates and Unconventional Sources

Image of methane flameProfessor Hamid Arastoopour and his team are developing a mathematical model and simulation tools to predict the rate of attainable natural gas production from marine hydrate reserves and to evaluate the significance of methane hydrates in the future energy supply mix. The group has also developed models for production of natural gas trapped in “tight,” nearly impermeable formations.

Biofuels/Agrofuels

Professors Fouad Teymour and Satish Parulekar are exploring the design of efficient large-scale production of biomass for biofuel applications as well as fuels derived from agricultural products. Biology Professor Ben Stark is researching microorganisms that enhance fermentation and digestion of agricultural products.

Renewable Energy

Hydrogen Storage

The Hydrogen Storage Program at IIT focuses on the use of the various adsorption and absorption techniques, namely sorption using metal hydrites and activated carbon.

Fuel Cells

Image of batteriesChBE Professor Jai Prakash, Director of the IIT Center for Electrochemical Science and Engineering, is focusing on the integration of batteries, fuel cells, and capacitors in renewable power/energy systems. ChBE Assistant Professor Vijay Ramani received a 2009 National Science Foundation CAREER Award to support his work on the development of multi-functional materials for electrochemical energy conversion, particularly focusing on the properties and microstructures of materials used in polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) technology.

Additionally, IIT Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering J. Robert Selman and his team of student researchers have focused on practical fabrication and design of electrolytes for solid oxide fuel cells.

Batteries

Professor Rob Selman is leading research that is developing high-performance Li-ion and Li-polymer batteries for hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. This includes developing high-performance electrodes, modeling of Li-ion cell reactions, and understanding of thermal runaway reactions.

Energy Efficiency, Conversion, Conservation, and Sustainability

WISER research in this domain focuses on using and converting available energy efficiently. It emphasizes achieving balance between use and conversion while also protecting the environment and reducing the depletion of natural resources.

Hybrid Systems

Motor Drive Design and Control

Harris Perlstein Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ali Emadi and his research team have patented a digital breakthrough in motor drive design and control that is extremely simple and far less expensive to implement than existing technology. This invention can transform standard household appliances into ‘smart,’ variable-speed appliances that can be controlled by a computer chip, making way for the development of new products at a lower cost.

Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Systems

Harris Perlstein Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ali Emadi’s research in hybrid/plug-in hybrid electric systems is two-fold. One focus in on the development of an adaptive controller, i.e., “brain” of the vehicle, which is optimized in real-time, improving the fuel economy drastically, without sacrificing performance. The second facet of the research is the creation of unique integrated electro-mechanical drive trains.

Sustainable Buildings

Sustainable buildingProfessor of Architecture Peter Land, in collaboration with faculty from IIT Armour College of Engineering and IIT College of Architecture, are developing innovative, sustainable high-rise buildings that utilize energy and structural concepts that produce energy, utilizing renewable resources such as wind, sun, and geothermal. The team recently developed a unique high-rise and wide-span structure equipped with wind turbines, under further development by Associate Professor Dietmar Rempfer using a computational fluid dynamics approach. Learn more...

Building-integrated Photovoltaics and Wind

Building-integrated photovoltaics integrate PV material with the building component skin to create a unique product—a building component with photovoltaic functionality—where the building component and the photovoltaic element are totally integrated.

Rubber Recycling Technology

IIT researchers have developed a novel rubber recycling technology that consists of two processes. Solid-state shear extrusion pulverization produces rubber powders at ambient temperatures and, at the same time, partially devulcanizes the rubber particles without the use of chemicals. IIT’s patented rubber modification process—Interpenetrating Polymer Network, developed by professors Hamid Arastoopour and Fouad Teymour—adds hydrophilic character to rubber particles, making them usable as coating or mixed with soil to significantly reduce water consumption for irrigation.

Indoor Air Quality

Professor Demetrios Moschandreas has identified a strong association between student health symptoms and in-class indoor air quality. Additionally, using only occupant symptoms, the IIT-developed Indoor Environmental Index provides an externally validated metric of in-office environmental quality.

Power

perfect powerThe mission of the newly established IIT Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation is to pursue groundbreaking work in the generation, transmission, distribution, management and consumption of electricity.The Galvin Center brings together faculty, students, researchers, industry, government, innovators, and entrepreneurs to collaborate to improve the reliability, security and efficiency of the electric grid and overcome obstacles to the national adoption and implementation of the smart grid. WISER’s leading-edge research in this area is directed by Mohammad Shahidehpour, Bodine Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with the assistance of Associate Professor Zuyi Li, includes grid design and implementation, wind energy, and small hydropower systems.

Projects include

Perfect Power System

The IIT Perfect Power System--a $12 million on-campus smart grid implementation--is funded in partnership with IIT, the Galvin Electricity Initiative, and the United States Department of Energy.

Smart Grid Workforce Education and Training Center

Smart Grid at IIT will provide workforce training in smart grid technology for nearly 49,000 people. More than $12 million in funding is provided by the DOE, the State of Illinois, partner universities, and collaborating members.

Power Market Operations with Hydro/Wind/Gas Energy

IIT professors Mohammad Shahidehpour and Zuyi Li are developing a next-generation security-constrained simulation tool that can model the impacts of wind power intermittency and volatility on electric power system operations. The project also includes the development of a novel and efficient strategy for “firming up” wind power generation through hydro-wind-gas coordination in existing hydrothermal power systems.

Wind Energy Consortium

Wind Consortium at IIT is a $8 million DOE-funded initiative --to establish University-Industry Consortium for Wind Energy Research, Education, and Workforce Development. The Consortium will advance wind energy education in the United States and implement/study a 1.5 MW GE wind unit and an on-campus wind turbine. Ihe IIT Wind Integration Project was also awarded $750,000 from DOE to study wind integration into the grid. » Read about the Wind Energy Research Consortium

Small Hydro

Image of small hydroUnder the leadership of Carl Bodine Professor Mohammad Shahidehpour, phase I of a project that demonstrated the advantages of implementing small hydro plants at two existing dams on the Fox River in northern Illinois includes the construction of a small hydro prototype in the lobby of IIT’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.