Seeking new energy resources that are more efficient, cost effective and mitigate environmental impacts is among the most critical issues that the world will have to grapple with in the 21st century. The development of sustainable energy systems will demand clear insight and collective efforts from all stakeholders taking into account the many related global, economic, environmental, societal and technological concerns. Other energy issues such as the development of advanced energy storage and conversion devices, thermal optimization of power systems, modeling and control of high power density electronics modules and the development of a nationwide, interoperable Smart Grid will be undertaken by AME researchers. Current research topics include:

Advanced Energy Storage:

Electrode structures and catalysts are critical for determining the performance of various energy devices. We explored, developed and demonstrated macroscopic highly-ordered three-dimensional interconnected electrode architectures, to fully utilize exceptional conductivity, optimal catalyst distribution, high surface area and porosity, and good durability of electrodes to realize Materials-by-Design for optimizing nano/microstructure and performance of electrodes for various energy storage and conversion devices.

Current Research Projects:

  • Development of Advanced Energy Storage Devices (Zheng, NSF)
  • Research and Development on Some Critical Issues for High Energy and Power Densities, and Good Lifespan of Li-air Batteries (Zheng, ARMY, CERDEC)
  • 3-D Nanofilm Asymmetric Ultracapacitor, a phase II STTR Project (Zheng, DOE)
  • Modeling and Simulation of Li-air batteries (Andrei, NSF)


Fuel Cells/Thermal Management/Alternative Energy:

To develop efficient, low emission, advanced energy systems through a better understanding of the underlying fundamental physical phenomena. Specific areas of research include fuel cells and fuel cell systems, thermal modeling and management, combined heat and power poly-generation systems, absorption and solar refrigeration, HTS motors and cables, and photobioreactors for microalgae growth.

Current Research Projects:

  • Development of a Low-Cost and High-Efficiency 500 W Portable PEMFC System (Zheng, DOE)
  • Thermodynamic Modeling of Dedicated Cooling Systems (Ordonez, Vargas)
  • Light Weight Vacuum Chamber for Airship Buoyancy Control (Ordonez, Barton, FSURF)
  • Solar Collection by Volumetric Absorption (Ordonez, Rivera )
  • Passive Heat Transfer Enhancement (Ordonez, Rivera)
  • Waste Heat Recovery through Hybrid Cycles (Ordonez, Rivera)
  • Modeling and Optimization of Photobioreactors for Microalage Growth (Ordonez, Vargas, CNPq)
  • Incorporating Uncertainty into Life Cycle Analysis of Biofuels (Chan-Hilton, NSF)


Power Electronics and Smart Grid:

To develop high efficiency power conversion and control technology for renewable energy resources and energy storage elements and integrate them to the smart grid. Specific areas include power conditioning system for PV, fuel cell, battery, ultracapacitors, and etc, as well as their applications on smart grid and vehicles.

Current Research Projects:

  • Improving Power Quality and Safety Operation of Multiple Grid-Connected Residential Photovoltaic (PV) Systems with Distributed Storage, Control and Power Conditioning Systems (Li, NSF)
  • GOALI: 1 MHz, GaN-Based, Modular, Cascaded Z-Source Inverters for Scalable Grid-Interactive Photovoltaic (PV) Applications(Li, NSF)
  • Design, Modeling and Control of High Efficiency and High Power Density Multi-port Power Electronics Module for Hybrid Energy Systems (Li, NSF)
  • Power Electronics Interfaces to DESD (Li, NSF)
  • An alternative protection method for FREEDM system(Li, NSF)
  • High Efficiency, Modular, Transformerless Inverters for Scalable Grid-Interactive Photovoltaic (PV) Applications using SiC Device (Li, Siemens)
  • Continue Research on Power System -Advanced Power Conditioning (Li, ONR)



The energy development needs to be environmentally sustainable in order to have long-term positive impacts. Not only do renewable energy systems need to be analyzed in terms of their impacts on natural resources, but existing infrastructure systems, such as wastewater and landfill facilities, may be used as renewable energy sources. Research includes physicochemical and microbiological studies, coupled with simulation modeling, applied optimization, and systems analysis, in water reuse, drinking water and wastewater treatment, groundwater and soil pollutant transport, developing environmental processes for energy production, and exploring the energy-water nexus.

Current Research Projects:

  • Incorporating Uncertainty into Life Cycle Analysis of Biofuels (Chan-Hilton, NSF)
  • Usage of Microbial Fuel Cell Technology in Landfills - Enhanced Organic Compound Decomposition and Nitrogen Removal (Chen, FDEP)
  • Ultraviolet (UV)-Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) for Reclamation of Landfill Leachate (Watts, FDEP)
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