On-Going Research Initiatives
Making Solar More Efficient and Manufacturable
Materials research is at the core of transforming solar energy technology. Appropriate selection of materials enables new technologies that are inexpensive, highly efficient and reliable. Oregon State University conducts a variety of materials research leading to next generation technologies.
Advancements include thin film flexible substrate solar technologies, high efficiency coatings and transparent electronics to optimize solar energy harvest. In partnering with companies like Oregon BEST and Solar World OSU research in solar technologies is expanding at an exciting pace. For more information on current solar research projects at OSU, see Senergi's project page.
Leading Fuel Cell Research
Researchers across the disciplines of (namely chemistry, materials science, and electrical engineering) are working on ever-more compact hydrogen storage for fuel cell application. Fuel cells convert chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or different oxidizing agent. Fuel cells vehicles are gaining momentum in the automotive industry, and with contributions from the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute (with which OSU is a partner) cost-effective hydrogen storage systems will become more available.
Hydrogen can be stored in a range of materials such as metal hydrides, chemical hydrides, and adsorption materials. Researchers are developing new dielectric materials (a form of electric insulators) packaged into portable energy storage devices (also known as capacitors) which increase energy-efficiency in the device. These devices can be embedded in automotive engines and have applications beyond. This approach has the potential to break the trend in energy storage science by increasing the energy density of materials. With time, knowledge of hydrogen fuel cell technology will be more accessible to the general public.
Wind Energy Moving Forward
OSU's Energy Resources Research Laboratory is working with the Bonneville Power Administration on wind-forecasting models to determine the most productive locations for wind farms. Forecasting models are useful in research to capture excess energy generated during peak wind events and releasing the stored energy onto the power grid at times when wind speeds are slow. OSU research also focuses on grid management and integration of wind power.
Commercial wind farms are primarily located in rural areas which are relatively clear of other development (due to safety concerns).
But OSU research has resulted in the development of micro wind turbines that can be mounted in rows along the edges of building rooftops. That means wind power can be generated in urban and suburban settings, not just from rural wind farms of towering turbines. Micro turbines are encouraged for interested homeowners, but they should consult local building codes and zoning regulations before embarking on a micro turbine project.
Sustainability Energy & Infrastructure (Senergi)-Find more information on on-going research initiatives at OSU.
Institute for Natural Resources(INR)-This science-based interdisciplinary institute aims at communicating emerging knowledge to decision-makers and the public.
OSU Research Agenda-Interested in the principles which lay the foundation for research at OSU? This page illustrates how OSU's research agenda stresses collaboration, relevance, and alignment with the university's Strategic Plan.
College of Forestry-Look at what how one of university's leading programs promotes sustainable forestry practices and ecosystem vitality.
Sustainable Living Project-A research-based project offering thoughtful approaches to leading fulfilling, productive and environmentally responsible lives by balancing our economic, cultural and environmental needs.
Energy Information Administration-Examine detailed reports on national energy use broken up by type, time period, region, production amount, consumption, and cost. This site is loaded with information for those interested in energy statistics and issues (including political and social issues associated with Energy procurement and distribution)
The Natural Step-See how this organization is accelerating shifts towards sustainability with science-based approaches.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory-Explore renewable energies research on the national level.
Keiwit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation-The Kiewit Center serves as the umbrella organization for almost all research within the School of Civil and Construction Engineering
Pacific Northwest University Transportation Center (PacTrans)- OSU is a partner in PacTrans, a group that focuses on sustainable solutions for the diverse transportation needs of the Pacific Northwest.