Depletion of fossil fuels and climate change from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions arguably represent the first civilization-scale challenges ever faced by the human race.  Meanwhile, equitable access to energy is perhaps the major inhibitor to economic prosperity for those global citizens at the base of the economic pyramid.

Solutions to these critical and seemingly disparate global issues require a balanced approach that includes maximizing the efficiency at which we convert fossil fuels to useful energy, minimizing the environmental impact of energy production/consumption and development of renewable energy sources.

Building upon CSU’s established legacy as a pioneer in the renewable energy sector, energy remains as a major area of research emphasis in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Specific areas of strength include internal combustion engines, thermal energy systems, biomass combustion, biofuels, solar energy, lasers, smart grid, distributed energy generation and computational fluid mechanics. Selected specific research topics include algal biofuels, advanced combustion modes for internal combustion engines, assessing the impact of increased natural gas utilization, development of novel optical diagnostic techniques for detection of trace gaseous species, minimizing pollutant formation in biomass cookstoves for developing economies and plug-in hybrid vehicle technology.

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Standards and Protocols Development
The EECL is working with many groups including the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Berkeley Air, Phillips, and Envirofit International of testing protocols and standards for biomass stoves.

Engine Emissions Testing of Straight Vegetable Oil
The goal of this project is to test locally grown Soybean, Canola, and Camelina sunflower oils and their biodiesels in a DI engine for 200 hours to test engine longevity, emissions and performance. Funded by the Governor’s Energy Office Supercluster Clean Energy Grant.

Laser Ignition of Engines
Focused beams from pulsed lasers can be used to form plasmas (sparks) and ignite combustible mixtures. The technology is of interest for a range of applications including stationary reciprocating engines, ground-based and aero-turbines, and vehicles. For stationary engines, laser ignition can allow ignition of very lean mixtures, which reduces pollutant emissions, and high pressures, which provides improved engine efficiency.