|Hi. I have just been cross appointed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University. I currently run the Michigan Tech in Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) group. I am also an adjunct prof. at the Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering at Queens University, Canada where I run the Queens Applied Sustainability Group. Please feel free to drop me a line
Photovoltaic Materials and Electronic Device Physics of Solar Photovoltaic Cells:
Photovoltaic electrical production is a technologically feasible, economically viable, environmentally benign, sustainable, and socially equitable solution to society’s future energy requirements. If anyone is still concerned about the energy payback of solar cells please read this. There is currently a big debate in the photovoltaic industry on how to get low cost solar electricity. Is it better to go with high efficiencies and pay more up front -- or really push the costs down with junk materials and accept an efficiency penalty. I don't know which way is better so I do research on both approaches.
Indium gallium nitride - ultra high efficiency moderate cost
- InGaN photovoltaics This research intends to radically reduce the costs of photovoltaic devices by developing an ultra-high efficiency indium gallium nitride (InGaN) solar cell. The primary reason InGaN shows such incredible promise as a photovoltaic material is the ability to modify its band gap by adjusting the ratio of indium and gallium in the film. A multi-layered cell of InGaN can be made with band gaps ranging from 0.7eV (InN) to 3.4eV (GaN) which covers the entire range of the solar spectrum. See some of our latest work here: S. Keating, M.G. Urquhart, D.V.P. McLaughlin and J.M. Pearce, “Effects of Substrate Temperature on Indium Gallium Nitride Nanocolumn Crystal Growth”, Crystal Growth & Design, 11 (2), pp 565–568, 2011. open access
Amorphous silicon - moderate efficiency but low cost
- Amorphous silicon PVT - Hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) based solar cells are the least expensive at a given production level and posses an excellent ecological balance sheet. The ecological and economic promise of a-Si:H solar cells is currently incomplete because of the light induced degradation of its electronic properties known as the Staebler-Wronski Effect (SWE). Numerous theories have been proposed to explain SWE, and my work has focused on the analysis of experimental evidence for a complex SWE mechanism - with an eye on controlling and eliminating the problem. Recent publications on the technical aspects of a-Si:H solar cells.
Current Projects in Applied Sustainability and Green Engineering
Solar Photovoltaic Systems Engineering
- PV and CHP hybrid systems
- Estimating the PV Potential of a Large-Scale Geographical Region
- Effects of snow on photovoltaic performance
Open Source Appropriate Technology and Sustainable development
- Open Source Appropriate Technology
- Waste plastic extruder,Open source controller for polymer extruder, Solar Powered RepRap for OSAT
- Open source rapid prototyping of OSAT
- Passive Solar Device Design: I am currently working on several projects that utilize sunlight passively. In collaboration with Denkenberger Inventing and Consulting LLC, a computer program has been written to simulate the complex heat transfer and optics of solar stills and pasteurizers. In addition I am also looking at methods to improve the geographical range of the SODIS method - Decreasing turbidity to optimize solar water disinfection
Some recent examples of energy policy work:
- Renewable energy policy in the north
- Industrial symbiosis in photovoltaic manufacturing
- Producer responsibility and recycling solar photovoltaic modules
- Diverting indirect subsidies from the nuclear to the photovoltaic industry: Energy and financial returns
- Government Support of PV manufacturing
Recent work to alter electric rates to favor renewable energy and distributed generation. See the write up about it here: . For a more detailed look in a trade magazine see this article in “Electric Rates and Fixed Charges: How US Utilities Suppress Distributed Generation in Cogeneration & Onsite Power Production, Vol. 10(1) pp. 73-77, 2008.
I also a strong proponent for service learning in engineering and making change. Utilizing appropriate technology projects to motivate students to learn physics. Also using service learning and commissioned assignments to solve real world environmental problems.
Courses with a service learning component
I have used Appropedia to support the following courses:
- APSC100 Engineering - First Year Project course
- MECH370 Materials Processing
- Mech425 Engineering for Sustainable Development
- MECH820 - Solar Photovoltaic Materials, Cells and Systems Engineering
- MECH836 -Applied Sustainability and CMAS801
- MY3701 - Introduction to Semiconductor Materials Science and Engineering
- MY5970 - Solar Hacking
- PH261 - Physics of Energy and the Environment
- PH254 - Introduction to Nanotechnology
The International Journal for Service Learning
I am the manuscript editor for the ISLE. The International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering (IJSLE) is a peer-reviewed electronic journal offered free, semi-annually, over the World Wide Web. The Journal welcomes manuscripts based on original work of students and researchers with a specific focus or implication for service learning in engineering, engineering entrepreneurship in service, or related service learning pedagogy.
With an increasing number of individuals and institutions of higher education becoming involved in service learning and entrepreneurship in service learning, the IJSLE is an invaluable resources for students, faculty, practicing engineers and local communities. With articles relating to the latest design and research pertinent to local communities, the faculty-reviewed articles in each issue provide the reader with timely information related to:
* Engineering Design Projects as Service * Engineering Research Projects as Service * Engineering-Related Entrepreneurial Projects as Service * Pedagogy in Engineering-Related Service Learning
If you are contributing to Appropedia - you should seriously consider submitting a manuscript once your project has come together