Energy Systems research
NAU Mechanical Engineering research projects
Our research in energy systems includes work on renewable energy, energy storage, and wind power. Details on some of our research projects in energy systems are described below. Please contact the lead faculty to learn more about any of our research projects.
Multifunctional Carbon Fiber Composites Accordion Closed
Lead: Cornel Ciocanel
Keywords: Power storage, supercapacitor, lightweight, structural
This research is focused on the development of a carbon fiber based composite material with power storage capability. Embedding supercapacitor-like power storage in structural components facilitates weight and volume reduction, as well as extended operation, for electrically powered systems (e.g. UAVs, laptop, phones, etc.).
Marine energy harvesting for remote sensor systems Accordion Closed
Lead: Michael Shafer
Keywords: Energy harvesting, wildlife telemetry, marine, solar power
Energy harvesting is used in terrestrial sensor applications, but is largely absent in the marine sensor field despite several possible harvesting methods and calls for use by the ocean science community. This project has focused on working with wildlife telemetry manufactures to identify practical ambient marine energy transduction methods and then developing methods to assess their potential for supplementing telemetry system energy budgets. Despite the inherent benefits of solar power, the inability to quantify energy production capacity in the marine environment has precluded adoption. This project has worked to develop the methods for marine environment solar power energy assessment through both analytic and experimental methods.
Mining Air for Fuels and Fine Chemicals Accordion Closed
Lead: Jennifer Wade
Keywords: Emissions, carbon capture, climate change, carbon, sequestration, direct air capture
NAU is supporting a novel direct air capture system developed by collaborators at ASU and UT Austin, that aims to remove CO2 from air using a low-cost polymer membrane-based DAC process. The team uses water evaporation to drive the separation of CO2, decrease emissions, and improve the energy efficiency of the overall carbon capture process. The project uses novel materials to create high-surface area membranes to pump CO2 continuously and actively against a concentration gradient. The process will capture distributed CO2 emissions that can be sequestered or converted into a wide range of energy-dense fuels, fuel feedstocks, or fine chemicals.
Ocean Modeling with application to the Environmental Impact on Climate Change due to Global Warming Accordion Closed
Lead: Peter Vadasz
Keywords: climate change, ocean modeling
The objective of this research is the development of a mathematical model for the energy balance in the ocean in order to investigate the effect the thermal expansion of the ocean water column has on the sea level.
Consequently the latter impact on climate change duet global warming can be assessed.