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With the world slowly but steadily running out of fossil fuels, sources of renewable energy and more efficient strategies for energy storage, transportation and conversion into electrical or mechanical power need to be explored. A second driver for research in energy conversion is the desire to replace the present rechargeable batteries in portable electronics (e.g., cell phones, laptop computers, PDAs) with longer lasting power sources based on fuel cells.
Specific research projects in our department include the development of fuel processors for hydrogen production, solar cells, hydrogen storage, microfuel cells for portable power, the engineering of proteins for biomass conversion, microbes for biofuel cells, catalyst design, and power system design and optimization.