Our laboratory group has constructed an active research program at the nexus of the fields of industrial engineering, energy systems, and lifecycle assessment (LCA). The research portfolio includes fundamental work on the development of design and analysis tools and experiments that can elucidate the system architectures, business models, and management practices that can enable the successful implementation of emerging energy technologies. Our research has contributed to many of CSU’s institutional strengths in Energy, Sustainability, and Systems Engineering.
Industrial Assessment Center (Sponsored by USDOE)
The Colorado State University Industrial Assessment Center (CSU IAC) provides: FREE plant assessments providing recommendations for improved energy efficient operations. Ideas for waste minimization and productivity improvement. Service to Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Follow-up services in a timely and thorough manner. Training for students in energy efficiency. The CSU IAC and its predecessor programs (the Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Center and the Waste Minimization Assessment Center) have been providing plant assessments and recommendations for plant improvement since 1984 to over 560 manufacturing plants. For further information about our program, see http://projects-web.engr.colostate.edu/IAC/
Economics of Behind the Meter Battery Energy Storage (Sponsored by USDOE)
Battery energy storage (BES) is one of a set of technologies that can be considered to reduce electrical loads, and to realize economic value for industrial customers. To directly compare the energy savings and economic effectiveness of BES to more conventional energy efficiency technologies, this study collected detailed information regarding the electrical loads associated with four Colorado manufacturing facilities. These datasets were used to generate a set of three scenarios for each manufacturer: implementation of a BES system, implementation of a set of conventional energy efficiency recommendations, and the implementation of both BES and conventional energy efficiency technologies. Evaluating these scenarios’ economic payback period allows for a direct comparison between the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency technologies and that of BES, demonstrates the costs and benefits of implementing both BES and energy efficiency technologies, and characterizes the effectiveness of potential incentives in improving economic payback. Click here for more information
Energy Access For The Developing World (Sponsored by NSF and Factor(E))
In many parts of the developing world, access to energy is unreliable and out of reach for three out of every ten people on the planet. Current market technologies and business strategies utilized in the developed world tend to fail when attempting to solve the problem of energy access in low resource environments. In collaboration with Factor(E) Ventures, the Energy Institute at Colorado State University is working to transform the way energy is generated, delivered, and utilized through product development, market comprehension, business planning, and culturally relevant end user connections. Click here for more information
Scalability of Algae and Cyanobacteria based Open Raceways and Photobioreactors (Sponsored by NSF)
We research computational models of open raceway ponds (ORP) and photobioreactors including incident radiation, nutrients supply, competition for growth, inhibition, and mixing in algae and cyanobacteria growth models for scalability and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) purposes. In our research we aim to address the limitation of the state-of-the-art models by incorporating fluid dynamics. By incorporating fluid dynamics in growth models, we will contribute to obtain scale down light environments at the biology, systems biology and metabolic engineering level. We will also obtain more accurate growth models & life cycle assessment (LCA) models for optimization of PBR systems. Lastly, more reliable metrics of sustainability of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, Nannochloropsis sp. and other photoautotrophic organisms can be achieved. Click here for more information
Combined Wastewater and Photosynthetic Biorefineries (PSBR) Based on Cyanobacteria
The goal of this research is to evaluate the potential combining photosynthetic biorefineries (PSBRs) and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Such an integrated system is expected to have synergistic benefits in terms of energy efficiency, water and carbon footprint reduction, water quality improvement, and animal feed production.
Development of GIS based tools for optimized fluids management in shale gas operations (Sponsored by US Department of Energy)
Fluids management is perhaps the key element of successful efforts to enhance safety and environmental protection during the development of domestic natural gas and other petroleum resources. Optimized management of fluids can minimize community impacts such as truck traffic, noise and road damage, reduce air quality concerns such as the release of air toxics, and influence well pad siting and density decisions that result in a reduction of disturbance to the landscape. In addition, a comprehensive tool that manages fluids can result in a smaller regional water footprint and through coordination of logistics, minimize the risk of spills and leaks that could impact surface and ground water quality. In this project, a GIS-based Optimized Fluids Management (OFM) tool will be developed and applied to the Wattenberg natural gas field in northeastern Colorado. Click here for more information.
Engineering Frontiers in Research and Innovation Photosynthetic Biorefineries Program (Sponsored by NSF)
Several novel systems approaches and an alternative target biofuel are brought to bear in this project to develop sustainable processes for the production of fuels and chemicals by cyanobacteria. The project has been awarded to a multidisciplinary team, consisting of Professors Kenneth F. Reardon, David S. Dandy, Thomas H. Bradley, Christie A.M. Peebles, and Graham Peers, all of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. To address the goals of increasing commodity yields and increasing the sustainability of photosynthetic microbe-derived fuels, the research team will synthesize knowledge and approaches from fluid dynamics, photosynthetic physiology, proteomics, metabolic engineering, and life cycle analysis methods. Click here for more information.
Evaluation of Customer-owned, On-site Distributed Generation Business Models (Sponsored by US Department of Energy)
This three-participant economic model of the consumer, distributor, and generator demonstrates the various financial impacts and incentives associated with a typical distributed generation facility. A case study comparing 2011 and 2012 data for Fort Collins Utilities and Platte River Power Authority shows potential gains and losses for each market participant and illustrates how changes in utility billing structure can greatly impact calculations for a projected customer-owned facility pay-back period. Click here for more information. Click here for more information.
Colorado State University Natural Gas Truck (Sponsored by Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E))
Colorado State University will develop an engine retrofit concept to turn a natural gas vehicle’s engine into a compressor for convenient natural gas refueling, as opposed to building a smaller secondary standalone unit. More specifically, they will outfit an internal combustion engine (ICE) to dually serve the purpose of providing vehicle propulsion and compression for natural gas refueling with minimal hardware substitutions. Owing to advances in engine systems, e.g., variable valve actuation, an engineered a prototype vehicle that operates normally under commuting conditions, but will itself behave as a home natural gas compressor/filling station will be developed. This approach will belay refueling infrastructure concerns, removing a primary barrier to the adoption of natural gas-fueled light duty vehicles. Click here for more information.
Electric Drivetrain Teaching Center (Sponsored by US Department of Energy)
The Electric Drivetrain Teaching Center (eDTC) was designed to educate students on electric vehicle components as well as allow researchers to gain experimental results of grid attached storage (GAS) testing. With the anticipated roll out of millions of electric vehicles, manufacturers of such vehicles need educated hires with field experience. Through instruction with this lab, Colorado State University plans to be a major resource in equipping the future electric vehicle work force with necessary training and hands-on experience using real world, full-scale, automotive grade electric vehicle components. The lab also supports research into grid-attached storage. In addition to education, eDTC is continuing research in GAS. The topics of this research include determining necessary equipment for GAS systems to maintain IEEE Std. 519-1992 compliant, which defines allowable limits of grid electricity harmonics. Other research on GAS systems is the determination of system efficiency. Click here for more information.
Microalgae-Based Biofuels Life Cycle Assessments
These projects have involved the research and evaluation of the net energy, net greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and scalability of microalgae-derived biodiesel cultivated in Solix-type hybrid photobioreactors. In general, these analyses have been complicated by the lack of commercial-scale microalgae cultivation data, and large uncertainty regarding the sources and sinks for nutrients, water, land and coproducts. CSU is fortunate to be able to partner with Solix Biofuels, a Fort Collins company to share commercial-scale data and a long-term vision for the industry. The resulting NER of the microalgae biodiesel process is 0.93 MJ of energy consumed per MJ of energy produced. In terms of net GHGs, microalgae-based biofuels avoids 75 g of CO2-equivalent emissions per MJ of energy produced. The scalability of the consumables and products of the proposed microalgae-to-biofuels processes are assessed in the context of 150 billion liters (40 billion gallons) of annual production. Click here for more information.
Microalgae-Based Biofuels Resource Assessments (Sponsored by US DOE and Solix Biosystems)
These projects have resulted in the development of a model to describe microalgae biomass and lipid accumulation in an outdoor, industrial-scale photobioreactor for scalability assessments of industrial-scale microalgae. The model incorporates a time-resolved simulation of microalgae growth and lipid accumulation based on solar irradiation, species-specific characteristics, and photobioreactor geometry. The model is validated with growth data from an industrially-scaled outdoor photobioreactor. Click here for more information.
Nitrogen Scalability of Microalgae-Based Biofuels (Sponsored by US DOE and Solix Biosystems)(Sponsored by US DOE and Solix Biosystems)
Evaluation of the compatibility of combining large-scale microalgae-based biofuels with wastewater treatment by comparing several wastewater treatment and biofuel production combination scenarios on the basis of the biofuel productivity, lifecycle water, fertilizer, energy and greenhouse gas burden, and scalability to one where these functions are decoupled. Click here for more information