Category: Seminars

Graduate Seminar: Jon Pharoah
Thursday March 15, 2012 4:00-5:00 p.m.
ME-EM building, Room 112
Professor Jon Pharoah, Associate Director -RMC Fuel Cell Research Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada will give a presentation entitled ‘Fuel Cells and Renewable Energy … and Multi-Scale Modelling of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell’ For more information on the ME-EM Graduate Seminar Series visit

Fuel cells of various types are firmly in the initial stages of commercialization. Phosphoric acid fuel cells have been deployed in the 250 kW range in a vast array of stationary power applications. Molten carbonate fuel cells have also been deployed in capacities from 250 kW to several MW and are fueled by either natural gas or bio gas. Solid oxide fuel cells have been deployed, again for stationary power in the 100 kW size and commercial products have demonstrated AC efficiencies in excess of 60% fueled on natural gas in units as small as 1 kW. Polymer electrolyte fuel cells have also been deployed up to capacities of 1 MW for stationary power. For mobility applications, most leading automotive companies are very close to commercial fuel cell vehicles, and virtually all of them claim that fuel cells are the only technology that can replace existing vehicles with zero emissions and the same functionality. The same fuel cells are operating in the entire fleet of transit buses in the city of Whistler, Canada, where they were introduced for the 2010 winter olympics. Smaller versions of the same fuel cells are continuing to replace lead acid batteries in forklift trucks for distribution centres, and the technology has been clearly demonstrated to give twice the talk time on a mobile phone compared to the current lithium ion battery pack. It is clear that fuel cells are well on their way to commercialization and they will continue to succeed due to their very high efficiencies and zero to low emissions. Fuel cells are also major enablers for the large scale implementation of renewable energy. Most types of fuel cells can be fueled with hydrogen, while some types require hydrogen as a fuel. Hydrogen is an ideal fuel in the sense that it can be produced from many different sources and pathways can be produced locally virtually anywhere results in noemissions at the point of use and is typically used at very high efficiency. It can be reformed from fossil fuels (with corresponding emissions of carbon dioxide), or it can be produced through the electrolysis of water using any available source of electricity. It can be used for remote electricity applications, grid energy applications and as a transportation fuel. The versatility of hydrogen open up several important possibilities for renewable energy systems as well as for utility companies. Conventional renewable energy is predominantly either wind or solar, both if which suffer from severe intermittency and a lack of predictability. When the penetration of these technologies is small, this is not a problem since the electricity grid can absorb the power when it is available and it is not overly missed when it is not. As the level of penetration exceeds around 10% of the energy mix, major problems begin to arise and typically energy grids become more costly to run and often have higher emissions. Fuel cells offer a way to increase the penetration while potentially reducing the cost of the system and certainly the emissions. When excess electricity is available from renewables, hydrogen can be produced and stored and when electricity is needed, this hydrogen can be used to generate electricity. Very few technologies have this general capability on the scale that is needed for grid storage. Hydrogen, however can also be used as chemical fuel or feed, which opens up enormous opportunities for utilities.

MEEM Graduate Seminar: Zachary Folcik

Mar 1 Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics Graduate Seminar: Mr. Zachary Folcik from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory will give a presentation entitled ‘Predicting Close Approaches in Geosynchronous Orbit’ on Thursday, March 1 at 4:00PM in 112 MEEM.  Seminar poster

Mr. Folcik ha s been a staff member at MIT Lincoln Laboratory since 2000. Mr. Folcik has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Michigan Technological University and a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work has focused on problems in orbit estimation, orbit modeling, observation association, satellite maneuver detection and optimal thrust planning.

Abstract: Predicting Close Approaches in Geosynchronous Orbit


Earth orbit has become a crowded environment. The risk of satellite collisions has become a real issue in low earth and geosynchronous orbit. This seminar introduces the current space environment, collision risk assessment and a program at MIT Lincoln Laboratory to mitigate collision risks in geosynchronous orbit. Research and development efforts to improve satellite orbit estimates and uncertainty knowledge will also be discussed.

Stabilization and Bifurcations of Unstable Processes with Time Delay

Feb 23: Professor Thomas Co from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech will give a presentation entitled, ‘Relay Stabilization and Bifurcations of Unstable Processes with Time Delay’ on Thurs., Feb. 23 at 4:00 P.M. in 112 MEEM.

Speaker: Dr. Tomas Co received his B.S. degree from the University of Philippines, Diliman, Philippines, in 1981 and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA in 1988, both in chemical engineering. In 1988 to 1989, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Process Modeling and COntrol Center at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. In 1997 to 1998, he was a visiting research engineer at the Honeywell Technology Center in Minneapolis, MN. In 2005 to 2006, he was a visiting professor at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea. From 1989 to the present, he has been a faculty member at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI. His research interests include large scale systems, process integrity, adaptive control, process modeling, relay stabilization, hybrid control, neural networks and fuzzy logic control.

Title: Relay Stabilization and Bifurcations of Unstable Processes with Time Delay

Abstract: Relay control is one of the simplest methods for stabilizing open-loop unstable processes by producing limit cycles. It is also used for parameter identification of unstable processes for designing other types of controllers. In this talk, we obtain the exact analysis of the limit cycles for a class of high-order unstable single input-single output (SISO) processes using relay control. A key technical lemma provides two nonlinear equations whose solutions provide the time periods of the upswing and downswing modes. Analytical and graphical methods are then used to determine the existence and multiplicity of the limit cycles. Also, necessary and sufficient conditions have been developed to determine the stability of the limit cycles. These tools then allow for the bifurcation analysis of the limit cycles based on variations in time delay. One interesting result is the presence of irregular stabilization, where increasing time delay could actually regain stability that was lost at smaller time delays. The results are then combined to provide a set of necessary conditions for relay stabilization. These conditions can be represented by a compact pyramid region which then yields some useful guidelines for the synthesis of additional compensators for relay-stabilization.


Membrane Electrode Assembly Development for Low Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

Eric Funkenbusch, program director of the 3M Fuel Cell Components Program, will give a presentation, “Membrane Electrode Assembly Development for Low Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells,” at 2 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, in ME-EM 112.

More information: Membrane Electrode Assembly Development for LowTemperature Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

Being a Life – Long Student

Thursday February 2, 2012 4:00-5:00 p.m.
ME-EM building, Room 112

Eds Zentner
Society benefits when we treat life as a continuous learning experience.  Individuals who are the leaders in any profession or aspect of life continually learn in support of their vision and desired goals.  At the root of continuous and intentional learning as a means to achievement is the concept of “Define-Learn-Do”.  Learning is an active process anddoesn’t stop once formal engineering education ends.  Developing a plan for a self-directed educationonce your formal education is completed allows you to truly differentiate yourselfamongst your competition in any field of  endeavor.  You will  have a difficult timeleading others if you don’t learn to lead yourself.  Principles of leadership and peopleskills are timeless, regardless of where they get applied.  They never get outdated as is often the case with technology.  Growing your people skills, recognizing the underlying servant nature of leadership and forming superior habits, reduces stress and conflict bycreating a more balance life.  Ultimately everyone who continues to grow and improve will excel.

Ed Zentner Video

The interaction of sports equipment and the human being

Thursday January 26, 2012 4:00-5:00 p.m.
ME-EM building, Room 112

Karen Roemer
Michigan Tech, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology Department

The precise analysis of joint reactions and muscle forces that are responsible for specifichuman movements represents a basic task in human movement biomechanics. Multi bodysystem models of the human body allow gathering detailed information on the interplaybetween human body biomechanics and for example sports equipment. The focus of thispresentation is set on leg extension movements. How does the set-up of a leg press machine influence joint reactions and muscular effort? How does body shape influence joint reactions for a given set-up in ergometer rowing

Li-N Compounds for Energy Applications

Thursday January 19, 2012 4:00-5:00 p.m.
ME-EM building, Room 112

Donggang Yao
School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology

The critical issues of fossil fuels are their limited natural sources and contribution to the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases. To solve those  problems, hydrogen is being developed as a promising alternative fuel, and the conversion of CO2 into valuable materials is considered as an effective approach to control the emission of greenhouse gases. In recent years, we have made an effort to develop hydrogen storage materials and to convert CO2 into novel solid materials.

Lithium nitride (Li3N), which is only one metal nitride that can be formed at room temperature, is an active material. This compound can be used to store hydrogen via its hydrogenation into lithium amide (LiNH2) and lithium hydride (LiH), which contain about 10wt% hydrogen.However, a potential issue regarding the N-based material for hydrogen storage is the generation of NH3, which consumes some H2 and also constitutes a poison for the downstream processes. The second issue is that the reversible hydrogen capacity of Li3N is about 5.5wt%, which isbelow 6.0wt% required for an effective on-board hydrogen-storage technique. This presentationwill demonstrate that the ultra-fast reaction between NH3 and LiH can eliminate NH3 during the hydrogen storage process of Li3N. Furthermore, it will show the reversible hydrogen capacity forLi3N can be remarkably enhanced by pre-doping LiNH2.

The conversion of CO2 represents a great challenge due to its high stability and low reactivity.Very recently, we explored lithium nitride for the CO2 conversion. It was demonstrated that Li3Ncan rapidly react with CO2 into two important types of solid materials carbon nitrides andlithium cyanamide. Different from current processes of CO2 conversion that are endothermic,this reaction is exothermic. Therefore, it constitutes not only a novel process for CO2sequestration, but also a unique approach for synthesis of carbon nitrides and lithium cyanamide.This presentation will discuss this novel process.

Multi-Vehicle Motion Control for Underwater Gliders

Thursday,  Jan.  12,  2012 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Room 112, ME-EM Bldg.
Nina Mahmoudian
Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Technological University
There is an increasing interest in having multi autonomous vehicles as mobile sensor networks for data collection for different purposes in air, ground, and water. This seminar will give an overview of the Nonlinear and Autonomous Systems Laboratory (NAS Lab) research activities in this regards.
In water, underwater gliders enabled oceanographers to take measurements underneath the water surface over spatial scales that expand the ocean and time scales that expand months, something that was not possible using satellites and remote sensing. These efficient buoyancy driven vehicles have proven their value in both long-term, basin-scale oceanographic sampling for environmental monitoring and littoral surveillance and military applications.
The problem is to optimize performance  of both individual and multiple glider systems for energy use, time to task completion and efficiency in sensing. This talk will describe the development of efficient motion control system for underwater gliders for autonomous information-rich  data collection. Also, synthesize multivehicle controls for underwater gliders with corrupted limited communication will be presented.