Transportation Energy and Sustainability

In the United States, transportation activities account for approximately thirty percent of overall carbon emissions. The desire to reduce this contribution and decrease reliance on uncertain fuel supplies drives the recent surge in transportation energy and sustainability related research. Engineering and science-oriented research on production processes of alternative fuels needs to be augmented with analysis of systemic impacts and consequences for transportation and the economic/societal systems it supports. New technologies benefit from appropriate government policies and bear many uncertainties spanning from financial and investment to governmental and infrastructure related.

Affiliated faculty members at Northwestern utilize a variety of analytical (data mining and forecasting), decision-making and route modeling, optimization and information technology skills to the topics of market adoption, infrastructure building, carbon footprint accounting, life-cycle analysis, and supply chain management. NUTC faculty affiliates are experienced in both developing and applying numerous operational, economic, and financial models to solve diverse energy, environmental systems, economics, and policy problems. They also have substantial expertise in the development of new materials benefiting transportation energy efficiency. NUTC also works closely with two programs on campus: the Initiative on Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) led by affiliated faculty members David Dunand and Mark Ratner; and the Center for Energy Efficient Transportation (CEET) led by affiliate faculty member Harold Kung. During the 2010-11 year, NUTC and ISEN co-hosted a workshop, The Greening of Transportation 2: Sustainability via Alternative Fuels, and featured speakers from influential US firms and government agencies sharing their practices in deploying alternative fuels and alternative-fuel vehicles.

The emerging research area of transportation sustainability and energy engages several faculty researchers including Diego Klabjan, Pablo Durango-Cohen, Joseph Schofer, Hani Mahmassani, and Frank S. Koppelman.