Michigan Tech Renovates Alternative Energy Research Building

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

An old building in Hancock is getting a new face and a new purpose in life. The University is renovating the 4,000 square foot building on Ethel Avenue at Atlantic Street to meet the growing needs of alternative energy researchers from Michigan Tech.

“This building demonstrates Michigan Tech’s commitment to alternative energy research and education at every level,” said Jeremy Worm, a research engineer in the Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department. Worm is coordinating the Alternative Energy Research Building project and will conduct his own research in the building once it is finished.

Collaborating with Michigan Tech’s Facilities and the Safety departments, a capstone senior design team from Michigan Tech’s Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department designed the remodeled facilities to minimize operating energy and utilize environmentally friendly materials, while meeting or exceeding all appropriate safety codes.

Scheduled for completion this summer, the remodeled building will support various researchers from Michigan Tech’s Advanced Power Systems Research Center. Jeffrey Naber will lead development of a unique National Science Foundation-funded optically accessible combustion vessel as well as an Xcel Energy-funded project to study the process of producing electricity using a syngas-powered generator. Jeffrey Allen will head a Department of Energy-funded project to investigate the effects of freezing temperatures on hydrogen fuel cells using an environmental chamber. Other facilities will include, a wind tunnel, a vehicle chassis dynamometer, a biomass gasification facility, a vehicle hoist and an advanced internal combustion engine educational laboratory. There will also be a modern collaboration room with videoconferencing capabilities and office space for faculty, research staff and graduate students.

The research conducted there will focus on many aspects of alternative energy including fundamental combustion phenomena, hydrogen fuel cells, internal combustion engines, wind turbines, hybrid powertrains and even the process of turning waste biomass such as timber scraps into gaseous fuel and electricity.

Additional support is being sought to help bring the building to full functionality, and sponsors are being offered naming as well as research collaboration opportunities, Worm said.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.