Burke Lab

Also in the area of energy, research is being performed to improve the thermochemical models used in accelerating development of cleaner, more fuel-efficient engines through computational design. In particular, data-driven approaches to creating high-accuracy, uncertainty-quantified thermochemicals models are being developed that utilize both theoretical and experimental data. Special emphasis is placed on the generation and analysis of data across the full range of relevant scales—from the small-scale electronic behavior that governs molecular reactivity to the largescale turbulent, reactive phenomena that govern engine performance. (Read more about the Burke Lab)

Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Laboratory

Led by Dr. Vijay Modi, the Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Lab or QSEL's areas of research interest fall broadly under two themes.

One, de-carbonization of energy systems, electrification of heat/transport, digitization, battery and thermal storage, interaction of the grid or a local micro-grid with buildings/storage/vehicles/HVAC. Much of this effort is built through tools populated by grid topology, load, supply data that aim to model the key features of the supply, demand, transmission, regulatory and market systems.

Two, energy access, energy for growth and productive uses, resource and infrastructure planning for access and renewable integration, demand estimation and role of novel payment systems in breaking barriers to upfront costs. Much of this effort is aimed at analysis and field experiments that aid cost-effective access. QSEL has been responsible for innovations such as a low-cost lead-acid charge/discharge circuits for solar lanterns (2005), fully digital pay-as-you-go minigrids (Sharedsolar) that have been continuously operating as pilots since 2011, battery-less pay-as-you-go smallholder irrigation systems (2013-) and widely used tools such as “Network Planner” for making technology choices under demographic, demand and geographic variations. QSEL also created a free open-source app called FormHub, used over a million times for assessing field data. More recently, QSEL has worked on larger scale electricity and natural gas networks, their long-term cost/benefits and impact on access to energy, fertilizer and industrial growth.

While Dr. Modi’s early work was on heat transfer, cooling towers, gas turbines, computational fluid dynamics and micro-electro-mechanical systems, his recent work has been on energy infrastructure design, planning and operation; integration of variable renewable energy into an energy system, storage, energy efficiency and flexibility, and data analytics spanning from urban settings to remote rural settings. QSEL is currently working closely with city and national agencies/utilities to understand how energy services can be more accessible, more efficient and cleaner. QSEL's recent project on minigrids is providing a unique understanding of consumer behavior, demand for energy, and business models for deploying energy solutions and energy efficiency. (Read more about the Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Laboratory)

Swamy Group

In the area of nanoscale thermal transport, our research efforts center on the enhancement of thermal radiation transport across interfaces separated by a nanoscale gap. The scaling behavior of nanoscale radiation transport is measured using a novel heat transfer measurement technique based on the deflection of a bimaterial atomic force microscope cantilever. Numerical simulations are also performed to confirm these measurements. The measurements are also used to infer extremely small variations of van der Waals forces with temperature. This enhancement of radiative transfer will ultimately be used to improve the power density of thermophotovoltaic energy conversion devices. (Read more about the Swamy Group)