Energy researchers apply mechanical engineering principles to systems that convert energy from one form to another. These systems include things like power production from conventional and renewable sources as well as building energy systems and refrigeration. Our research efforts in energy span several groups working in a number of different technology areas; however, each of these areas relies on a solid foundation of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.
Researchers in our Engine Research Center are working to improve internal combustion engine efficiency and reduce the pollution they cause. Researchers in our Solar Energy Laboratory work on renewable energy resource use and ways to reduce energy demand, including improving building energy systems. Researchers in our Thermal Hydraulics Lab collaborate with industry to tackle cutting-edge issues associated with the next generation of power plants, while researchers in our Cryogenic Engineering Lab are developing thermal management strategies at extremely low temperatures, which will enable technologies like quantum computing.
Prof. Anderson’s research spans fundamental physics and applications relating to advanced energy utilization, energy extraction and energy production with the main focus on experimental thermal hydraulics for advanced nuclear, solar and waste heat recovery energy sources.
Prof. Riccardo Bonazza’s interests are in the experimental investigation of impulsive, unsteady fluid flows such as shock-interface interactions, shock-driven mixing, and shock-initiated combustion.
Prof. Jen Franck’s Computational Flow Physics and Modeling Lab investigates the dynamics and physics of unsteady fluid flows.
Prof. Jaal Ghandhi’s research focuses on developing advanced, laser-based diagnostics for making planar measurements of the concentration and temperature fields within the combustion chamber of operating engines. He is also a principal investigator in the Engine Research Center.
Prof. Eric Kazyak’s lab seeks to consider the wide range of factors that interact with technologies in the real world including social justice, resource extraction, materials science, and infrastructure.
Prof. Sage Kokjohn researches high efficiency energy conversion, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, and turbulent combustion modeling. He is a principal investigator in the Engine Research Center and a member of the Decarbonized-Engine Research Consortium.
Prof. Allison Mahvi has research interests in thermal energy storage materials and systems, high-efficiency thermal systems, HVAC systems, two-phase fluid dynamics and heat transfer. She is a member of the Solar Energy Lab.
Prof. Luca Mastropasqua’s HERD lab researches and develops electrochemical energy and hydrogen-based systems to promote decarbonization and sustainable development. He is also a principal investigator in the Engine Research Center.
Prof. Franklin Miller has research interests in cryogenics, thermodynamics of superfluid 3He-4He mixtures, sub-kelvin cooling for space science and energy systems. He is also a member of the Solar Energy Lab.
Prof. Greg Nellis is the Director of the Solar Energy Lab and his research interests focus on heat transfer, thermodynamics, and cryogenics.
Prof. Frank Pfefferkorn’s teaching and research are focused on discrete metal part manufacturing processes, and heat transfer as it applies to manufacturing processes.
Prof. Xiaoping Qian’s group conducts research in computer methods for design and manufacturing automation, with technical emphasis on multi-physics topology optimization and geometric design.
Prof. Doug Reindl has interests and expertise in a number of areas related to industrial refrigeration systems that include system safety, optimization, assessment of design alternatives, conceptual design, energy conservation measures, system modeling, and field evaluation. He is the founding director of the IRC.
Prof. Roldán-Alzate’s laboratory focuses its research on fluid dynamics analysis of physiological and pathological flows using a combination of medical imaging, additive manufacturing and computational fluid dynamics.
Prof. Dave Rothamer’s group is part of the Engine Research Center, one of the largest academic research centers focused on internal combustion engines. He is the Director and a Principal Investigator of the ERC.
Prof. Sanders’ group develops optical instrumentation and sensors that help solve critical problems in diverse areas including energy, manufacturing, and health. He is also a member of the Engine Research Center.
Dr. Eric Tervo’s research focuses on developing semiconductor materials and devices for energy conversion and thermal management through the study of combined heat, light, and charge transfer processes.
Prof. Thompson’s research interests include Thermal energy transport and conversion, calorimetry, and nanofabrication.
Prof. Trujillo’s group is interested in a variety of multiphase flow problems ranging from micron-size particles transported in analytical flow fields to various industrial liquid spray applications. He is also a member of the Engine Research Center.
The Energy Systems Optimization Lab seeks to improve the design, performance, and characterization of energy generation and storage systems by applying advanced simulation and optimization techniques to applied systems.
The Engine Research Center (ERC) is a world-leading research group at UW-Madison, dedicated to investigating the fundamental thermo-physical processes that control combustion performance and the pollutant emissions formed during combustion in internal combustion engines.
The international Direct-injection Engine Research Consortium is coordinated by the ERC at UW-Madison. It assists engine manufacturers and related industries to meet future engine requirements for improved fuel efficiency and reduced costs.
The UW-Madison College of Engineering’s Solar Energy Lab (SEL) is the oldest of its kind in the world. It has been recognized nationally and internationally for accomplishments in practical applications for solar energy.
The IRC is a collaborative effort between UW-Madison and industry. Together it shares a common goal of improving safety, efficiency, and productivity of industrial refrigeration systems and technologies.