Link to Virginia Tech's main website
BUILDINGS

Contact:

Yvan Beliveau

Yvan Beliveau, director of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and the G.A. Snyder-Falkinham Professor of Building Construction, specializes in building energy systems.

Contact:

Jim Jones

Jim Jones, associate professor of architecture and director of the Center for High Performance Learning Environments, researches and teaches building energy systems. His research sponsors include the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy for his work on roof systems; the U.S. Department of Energy for the center; and REHAU Inc for research on radiant floor heating.

Contact:

Ted Koebel

Ted Koebel, program chair and professor of urban and regional planning in the School of Public and International Affairs, counts innovation and diffusion of affordable housing technology among his specialization areas. Between 2003 and 2005, he worked on "Residential Energy Assistance Challenge: Evaluation of Virginia Weatherization Program," as principal investigator with John Randolph, for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

Contact:

Annie Pearce

Annie Pearce, assistant professor of building construction, specializes in the latest in green building methods, technologies, best practices, energy management, and facilities.

Saifur Rahman and George Hagerman of the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute developed an HVAC screening tool to estimate cost and energy savings of ground source heat pumps in Virginia's K-12 schools. The "Geothermal Heat Pumps for Energy Smart Schools in Virginia" project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, is conducting six workshops for different audiences around the state.

Contact:

Georg Reichard

Georg Reichard, assistant professor of building construction, specializes in energy efficiency, building systems, simulation modeling, and building sciences.

Contact:

Robert Schubert

Robert Schubert, associate dean for research and outreach in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, specializes in building efficiency and sustainable design.

Contact:

Joe Wheeler

Joe Wheeler, assistant professor of architecture in the School of Architecture + Design, specializes in energy efficiency.

COMPUTERS AND OTHER DEVICES

Dushan Boroyevich, American Electric Power Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, does research on circuits and systems, including development of new electronic power processing circuits and new ways of controlling them. For example, the circuits are used for supplying electrical power to electrical motors, computers, appliances, and telecommunications equipment. The objective is to provide reliable and efficient supply of energy to different electronic systems.

Contact:

Wu-chun Feng

Wu-chun Feng, associate professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering, is studying ways to reduce energy consumption in all systems with computing units, such as personal computers, iPods, cell phones, automobiles, Tivo, and GPS. He is applying known algorithmic and software techniques (in a transparent way) to automatically reduce energy consumption in computing systems, and is working with software vendors (e.g., Microsoft) and electrical companies (e.g., AES) to make energy efficiency transparently ubiquitous.

Contact:

Tim Long

Tim Long, professor of chemistry, is developing nitroxide functional block copolymers for advanced polymeric batteries. Lithium-ion batteries provide important power sources in small portable electronics. Currently, toxic and heavy supported metal oxides serve as cathode materials. Nitroxide containing polymers have demonstrated high performance as cathodes in lithium-ion batteries. These “organic radical batteries” exhibit rapid charging and discharging rates. Furthermore, the reversibility of the process results in long battery life. Long’s lab has developed novel copolymers. Characterization of the electrochemical properties of these materials is underway.

Leyla Nazhand-Ali, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is studying low-power, energy-constrained computer architectures and subthreshold-voltage microprocessors in an effort to achieve optimal energy efficiency in computing units.

EDUCATION

Contact:

Michael Ermann

Michael Ermann, assistant professor of architecture in the School of Architecture + Design, specializes in building with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and teaches environmental building systems.

GREEN ENGINEERING

Contact:

Sean McGinnis

Sean McGinnis, a research scientist in materials science and engineering and biological systems engineering, is investigating energy efficiency from the perspective of chemical processes and materials selection. Engineers commonly use performance and cost as constraints for chemical process design and materials selection for products. As energy issues become increasingly important in a resource-limited world and global economy, life-cycle energy considerations are likely to become critical design constraints.
     McGinnis also is director of the Virginia Tech Green Engineering Program, which strives to make engineering students aware of the environmental impact of engineering practice in all life-cycle phases of products, processes, and systems. Classes in this program, including Introduction to Green Engineering and Environmental Life Cycle Analysis, provide students with design and analytical skills to minimize environmental impact. Energy - from sources to carriers to production to efficiency - is a recurring and central topic throughout this educational program.

EFFICIENT POWER GENERATION, UTILITY GRID

Robert Broadwater, professor of electrical and computer engineering, does computer-aided engineering with applications for the power industry. He is the author of patented nuclear power plant control software. He has developed real-time simulations of both nuclear and fossil power plants. He has been the chief architect of three computer-aided engineering workstations for the electric power industry. These workstations are used by electric utilities in the United States, South America, and Southeast Asia. The workstations are implemented in client-server environments and nonlinear circuit problems with over 3,000,000 components modeled are being solved. For example, small generators for Detroit Edison are running control software developed by Virginia Tech researchers to control their generation output to solve peak load problems in a cost-effective manner. The software is the first of its kind to incorporate distributed generators with existing large power plants.

Contact:

Gary Pickrell

Gary Pickrell, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and Anbo Wang, director of the Center for Photonics Technology are developing nano-structured optical fiber sensors. These sensors are being designed for detection and quantification of various types of gaseous species in advanced power generation facilities, and are aimed at improving the operational efficiency. The research is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Contact:

Ishwar Puri

Ishwar Puri, professor and department head of engineering science and mechanics, and his students are investigating partially premixed flames. These flames occur in many applications including industrial furnaces and gas turbines. Their investigation enables furnaces and turbines to be designed in a more energy efficient manner to conserve fuel; to become fuel flexible, i.e., they are able to burn a variety of liquid and gaseous fuels including hydrogen; and are less polluting, e.g., through reduced emissions of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. The research has been sponsored by NASA.

Contact:

Danesh Tafti

Danesh Tafti, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is developing better cooling technology for high efficiency power generation turbines. Energy efficiency of turbines is increased by using inlet gas temperatures much higher than the melting point of turbine components. Hence it is important to have effective cooling in the first stages of a turbine to avoid failure of parts. Advanced simulation tools based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) are being developed and applied to the cooling of turbine blades. His work is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. He is working with the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory- University Turbine Systems Research program to offer short courses to industry in modeling systems.

PUBLIC CHOICE

Contact:

Richard F. Hirsh

Richard F. Hirsh , professor of history and science and technology studies, performs social science research on the history and management of electric utility systems. Winner of several grants from the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities, Hirsh focuses on long-term social issues affecting the use of technologies in the regulated and increasingly deregulated utility system. He is especially interested in business and government policies that affected the power network and how new policy can be created to benefit companies, customers, and the environment. Author of Technology and Transformation in the American Electric Utility Industry (1989) and Power Loss: Deregulation and Restructuring in the American Electric Utility System (1999), Hirsh helped create and is director of the interdisciplinary Consortium on Energy Restructuring at Virginia Tech .

Contact:

John Randolph

John Randolph, professor of urban affairs and planning and director of the School of Public and International Affairs, specializes in the areas of environmental planning and policy, land use planning, water resources planning, energy planning and policy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and environmental impact assessment. From 2003 through 2005, he worked on "Residential Energy Assistance Challenge: Evaluation of Virginia Weatherization Program," as principal investigator with Ted Koebel, for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development .

TRANSPORTATION

Contact:

Jeff Borggaard

Jeff Borggaard, associate professor of mathematics, does reduced order modeling for complex fluid problems. Applications of his research related to energy have been the development of ways to control turbulent flows; this could be used to reduce the drag force on airplanes. A potential benefit would be that planes able to travel farther and use less fuel. His work has been the foundation for new software that reduced design cycle times, which has benefited the design of aerospace vehicles, optimization of propulsion systems, and the control of aerodynamic flows. Sponsors include the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Less weight means more fuel-efficient automobiles. The automobile industry is thus seeking ways to reduce the weight of structural components. The industry, under a collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is actively investigating the use of composites for various automobile components. Similarly, the industry is studying an enhanced use of adhesives to join various components instead of conventional fasteners. Rakesh Kapania, professor, and Eric Johnson, professor emeritus of aerospace and ocean engineering, have been working with a consortium of three automobile companies and DOE to develop computational methods to study energy-absorption capability of adhesively bonded joints under impact loads. Using the experiments conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and by David A. Dillard, professor of engineering science and mechanics, the researchers have developed material models that describe the fracture response of adhesives under various loading rates. These models have been successfully used to simulate the energy absorbed by composite tubes under crushing.

Charles Reinholtz, professor of mechanical engineering, and his student, Shawn Kimmel, retrofitted a 2004 Cadillac with a sensor and software package for predictive cruise control, designed to reduce emissions and fuel consumption by matching engine performance to road conditions.

Michael von Spakovsky, director of the Center for Energy Systems Research, is doing exergy analysis and large scale optimization for the development and operation of high-performance aircraft. Work to date has focused on the energy-based subsystems and components of such aircraft and on such non-energy based subsystems as the airframe. Applications include both supersonic and hypersonic vehicles as well as morphing aircraft. Optimal syntheses/designs are arrived at by flying the vehicles through complex missions which test the overall vehicles ability to optimally meet all the mission requirements.