2016 Annual Report

WEI Interim Director Ian Coxhead WEI Interim Director Ian Coxhead

Letter from the Director

As the world completes another record-breaking year of global warming, we should all rightly look to the future with trepidation. But it’s just as important to celebrate the good news: not only is the global transition to clean energy already happening, it’s also gaining substantial and sorely needed momentum. Along with more than 100 countries from all over the world, the U.S. has committed to reducing carbon levels and mitigating many of the urgent risks posed to us all by climate change. Our health, our communities, and our economies are already benefiting from our efforts to develop cleaner and more resilient energy systems.

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Forward in Energy

2016 Timeline

We connected with energy stakeholders, welcomed groups from all over the world, and provided a place for the exchange of forward-looking ideas.

2016 Timeline

Statewide Outreach Map

WEI’s outreach programs touch thousands of K-12 students, teachers, business people, and community members throughout the state of Wisconsin. 

Statewide Outreach Map

World-class Energy Research

Increasing the Efficiency of Biomass Conversion

This “super yeast” could double the efficiency of converting plant sugars to biofuel.

Trey Sato

Cutting Energy Costs in Fuel Cells

A newly discovered pair of catalysts cut the amount of electricity needed to convert biomass to fuel.

Cutting Energy Costs in Fuel Cells

Improving the Economics of Biofuels

Bacteria are providing key insights into the enzymes that degrade plant sugars.

Leaf cutter ant

Engineering Plants for Energy

A new study suggests we could increase the degradability of a vast array of plants.

Steve Karlen

Using Footsteps to Create Electricity

A UW–Madison team uses vibration from the ground to generate electricity.

Xudong Wang

Transforming the Grid

Collaboration, with industry and within academia, is key to this ambitious research on re-working the electric grid.

Transforming the Grid

Far-reaching Education & Outreach

Preparing Students to Lead

UW–Madison student Emily Blase is building a team, a wind turbine, and her résumé.

Emily Blase

Inspiring Students to Innovate

The Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge rewarded undergraduate students for new technologies and approaches to global stewardship.

WESC winners

Connecting Students to Research

MATC student Greg Desjarlais spent the summer studying switchgrass alongside professor of agronomy Mike Casler.

Greg Desjarlais

Strengthening Classrooms with Energy Science

Crawford County teacher Lisa Andresen brought a hands-on energy curriculum back to her students.

Lisa Andresen’s students

Welcoming Teachers to the Lab

Two Wisconsin teachers spent seven weeks conducting bioenergy research and developing new lessons for their students.

Cherrie Anne Maner

High Impact Public Policy & Industrial Engagement

Launching Spin-offs

UW–Madison professor Jim Dumesic’s GVL technology is the basis of GlucanBio, a spinoff that converts biomass into three streams of industrial chemicals.

Lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose-derived sugars.

Engineering a Competitive Edge for Industry

UW–Madison spin-off Lactic Solutions will provide ethanol plants with an antibiotic-free microbial solution that improves yield and increases the value of co-products.

James Steele

Moving Research to the Marketplace

UW–Madison spin-off Xylome uses new yeast strains to more efficiently convert cellulosic biomass to fuel.

Tom Jeffries and Tom Kelleher

Developing Technologies for Licensing

The U.S.  Department of Energy-funded Bioenergy Research Centers, which includes the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, filed their 500th invention disclosure in 2016.

Graph showing the BioEnergy Science Center, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, and the Joint BioEnergy Institute’s total number of invention disclosures, patent applications, licenses and options from 2008 to 2015.

Teaming Up for Better Battery Energy Storage

Johnson Controls is partnering with UW–Madison to enhance the performance of battery energy storage systems.

Kevin Frankforter and Jacob Dubie

Partnering with Industry

WEI’s Bruce Beihoff forges the partnerships between university researchers and industry that help bring impact and innovation to the energy sector.

Bruce Beihoff

More Information

Thank You to Our Donors

We thrive thanks to contributions from our community of supporters. Donor support strengthens our efforts to move the state, nation, and world forward in energy.

Thank You to Our Donors. Photo by Joel Ninmann

2016 Awards, Grants, and Highlights

A look at the awards, career highlights, and some of the energy-focused research grants of UW–Madison energy experts.

2016 Awards, Grants, and Highlights