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    Research Excellence Fund Awards Announced

    by Vice President for Research Office

    The Vice President for Research Office announces the Fall 2020 REF awards. Thanks to the individual REF reviewers and the REF review panelists, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process.

    Research Seed Grants:

    • Sajjad Bigham, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
    • Bo Chen, Computer Science
    • Daniel Dowden, Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Ana Dyreson, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
    • Hassan Masoud, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
    • Xinyu Ye, Civil and Environmental Engineering


    Sajjad Bigham Named Quarterfinalist in DOE Solar Desalination Prize Contest

    Assistant Professor Sajjad Bigham, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, and his team have advanced to the second phase of the American-Made Challenges Solar Desalination Prize contest for his project, “Sorption-Based ZLD Technology.”

    The contest is sponsored by the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

    Bigham is one of 19 quarterfinalists. Each receives a $50,000 cash prize.

    Selected from among 162 applicants, the quarterfinalists now advance to the second, Teaming phase of the competition, for which each research team will develop and successfully validate an operational prototype of their solar-thermal desalination system.

    Bigham is a heat transfer and energy systems specialist studying the scientific and engineering challenges at the intersection of thermal-fluid, material and energy sciences.

    His Michigan Tech research lab, Energy-X, is focused on understanding the fundamental transport science of important energy carriers at micro, nano and molecular scales. He is a member of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems’ Center for Cyber-Physical Systems.

    Project Title: Sorption-Based ZLD Technology
    Location: Houghton, MI
    Project Summary: State-of-the-art zero liquid discharge (ZLD) technologies are currently bound with either intensive use of high-grade electrical energy such as mechanical vapor compressors or high capital cost with environmental concerns such as evaporation ponds. A team of researchers from Michigan Technological University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the company Artic Solar proposes to address these issues by an innovative desiccant-based ZLD desalination system in which a multiple-effect distillation (MED) unit is uniquely embedded at the heart of an absorption-desorption system. The technology employs an absorption-based thermally-driven vapor compressor concept to pressurize the vaporized brine of the ZLD crystallizer unit from a low-pressure absorber to a high-pressure desorber module. This eliminates the need for energy-intensive electrically-driven mechanical vapor compressors currently employed in advanced brine crystallizers.

    Timely updates about the American-Made Challenges Solar Desalination Prize are posted here.

    The American-Made Challenges are a series of prize competitions that incentivize the nation’s entrepreneurs to strengthen American leadership in energy innovation and domestic manufacturing.

    The Solar Desalination Prize is a multi-stage prize competition intended to accelerate the development of low-cost desalination systems that use solar-thermal power to produce clean drinking water from saltwater. It is intended to help achieve the goals of the Water Security Grand Challenge.

    Each stage of the competition has increasing prize amounts, totaling millions of dollars.