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Research

Our research focuses on building tools to reduce the environmental impacts of energy systems, with an emphasis on greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from fossil energy systems. Our research methods include engineering-based life cycle assessment (LCA) modeling and computational optimization. Our research targets include transportation fuels (conventional oil and oil substitutes) and carbon dioxide capture and storage.

Optimization of energy systems

Optimization is used to choose technology configurations, designs, and operating conditions to achieve goals such as reduced cost and environmental impacts. Our group has applied optimization to carbon dioxide capture technologies and transportation fuels.

Life cycle assessment

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to generate comprehensive measures of environmental impacts from producing a fuel, a product or a service. Our group builds LCA models of energy technologies.

Resource depletion and energy system transitions

The depletion of conventional energy resources has led to the development of fossil-based substitutes for oil such as oil shale, tar sands, and coal- and natural gas-based synthetic fuels.  We examine the nature of resource depletion and the dynamics of these transitions.

OPGEE: the Oil Production Greenhouse gas Emissions Estimator

OPGEE is a bottom-up LCA tool that allows the user to estimate GHG emissions from oil and gas production operations under a variety of conditions and production technologies.

Peak in demand for conventional oil

Oil substitution and the decline in conventional oil

Could the need for conventional oil decline more rapidly than expected, reducing concerns about geologic constraints to oil production? In this study, we examine the possibilities for oil depletion mitigation from demand reduction, efficiency improvements, and substitution of non-liquid and liquid fuels for conventional oil.

Methane leakage from natural gas systems

We study leakage from the natural gas system, with a focus on comprehensive assessment of leakage mechanisms, as well as ongoing work on detecting leakage from natural gas systems.