Clean Energy and Biofuels

CSU has more than 100 faculty involved in clean energy technology research and a strong international presence in the field of clean energy in more than 11 countries.

Assessing Impacts of Clean Energy Technology

Researchers at CSU have developed and implemented a number of models to help quantify clean energy technology impacts. These models predict and report the results of alternative policies and technological development regimens.

Biofuels and Bioprocessing Research

CSU performs world-class research to develop new biofuels and biorefining technologies and transfers these advances as rapidly as possible to the private sector. It researches new technologies for transportation fuels production and other valuable products from plants. In addition to transportation fuels, biorefining promises to create new sources of agricultural fertilizers, synthetic fibers for clothing and other uses, plastics and commercial chemicals. Because these materials are now derived from petroleum and natural gas, biorefining will reduce U.S. dependence on oil and gas; provide alternative, domestic sources of energy and commercial products; and reduce green house gas emissions, helping to reduce global warming.

CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory

CSU has created the largest and most prominent independent engines research laboratory in North America. Under Professor Bryan Willson’s leadership, technologies created in the engines lab that are now in production have reduced emissions by more than 1 million tons, saved more than 50 billion cubic feet of natural gas, and reduced greenhouse gases by millions of tons. Through research and educational programs, the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory facilitates the development of new technologies for reducing the emissions and fuel consumption from engines and energy conversion processes. Students have built dramatically cleaner and more efficient versions of the internal combustion engine for applications ranging from snowmobiles to buses and improved the performance of large, slow-speed engines used in the nation’s natural gas pipeline system. Technology created in the lab leads to new companies that develop and disseminate products that reduce pollution and promote energy efficiency in the developing world, requiring a whole new kind of business plan. Students in the College of Business assist with creating plans for those projects.

Cookstoves research

Roughly 2.4 billion people in the world use wood or dung stoves for cooking, leading to many environmental and health problems. Most of these people also lack electricity. Students in CSU’s College of Business and College of Engineering developed a technology to address these problems simultaneously with a single product — the clean burning cookstove. The clean burning stove also generates electricity by converting wasted thermal energy.

Engine technology

The Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory is known internationally for research on many aspects of engine design, including engine modification for alternative fuels. The EECL’s research focuses on fuels, energy conversion, and energy distribution, with applications concentrated in transportation, air quality, indoor air quality, village energy systems, and distributed energy.

Hydrogen Power

Dr. Bryan Willson, Director of Research and founder of the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, is leading CSU researchers in an international effort to develop hydrogen power systems to provide fuel and electricity in Nepal. This team is working with engineering students and faculty at Nepal’s Tribhuvan University to develop and install small hydrogen fuel generators throughout the nation’s countryside to meet energy needs.

Snowmobiles

From 1999-2003, students at the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory competed in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, ultimately developing a snowmobile that was 300 times cleaner than a stock model. Engineering students design a snowmobile that decreases pollution by more than 99 percent, cuts fuel consumption 35 percent, reduces noise to conversational levels and matches the power of today’s top-performing commercial machines. The engine design has the potential to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of snowmobiling and decrease pollution in developing countries. A typical snowmobile can produce as much air pollution as 100 cars.