Congress appropriated $14.5 million on July 29 to the University of Kansas to support and expand ongoing transportation-related research in such key areas as fuel cells, road and vehicle materials, aircraft and air quality.
The funding, acquired through the efforts of Kansas Rep. Jerry Moran and Sen. Pat Roberts, will assist KU's Transportation Research Institute in the School of Engineering.
"With this funding, the TRI will set the curve on transportation issues of the future. Its initiatives will focus on research and development of advanced vehicle technology and transportation system concepts," said Stuart Bell, dean of engineering at KU. "We are most pleased that Congress has recognized that the University of Kansas School of Engineering has a unique combination of strengths in transportation."
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway agreed.
"Representative Moran and Senator Roberts were absolutely instrumental in bringing this funding to KU. I appreciate the wisdom they displayed in supporting this endeavor and the leadership they provided to champion the TRI and the outstanding faculty we have at KU," Hemenway said.
The TRI, formed in 2004, builds upon the established strengths of KU research in transportation by conducting cross-disciplinary study of emerging transportation issues with broad societal significance. Research already under way includes projects in fuel cell and propulsion systems, environment and air-quality, aircraft and materials, as well as highway, bridge and concrete research.
Faculty researchers affiliated with TRI expect to address a variety of topics, such as:
New component and system technologies that advance vehicular and transportation systems
Developing a new generation of vehicles with improved energy efficiencies and lowered pollutant emissions, increased safety and durability.
Conceiving and developing new tools to design, model and analyze components, transportation systems and environmental impacts.
Educating the next generation of engineers to address these challenges and think in these new directions.
TRI's goals are designed to serve the state, the nation and the world, Bell said. The institute will likely become a catalyst for economic growth in the state. TRI will work to establish partnerships with transportation-related companies and suppliers as well as federal agencies and government laboratories.
The interdisciplinary research will enhance undergraduate and graduate education programs at KU and make KU's engineering graduates even better prepared to serve the state and the world, Bell said.
Examples of ongoing research that will fall under the TRI umbrella
A pilot project with several major corporations to build and test alternative-fuel buses in the Kansas City region. (Professor Glen Marotz, in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering)
Remote sensing of vehicle emissions in Kansas City. Data from this study will be used in EPA regulatory air-quality models. (Professors Glen Marotz and Dennis Lane, in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering)
Fuel cells and catalytic processes: Work that could enhance fuel efficiencies of vehicles and provide alternatives to conventional fuel sources with lowered pollutant emissions. (Professors Trung Nguyen and Laurence Weatherley, in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering)
Intelligent transportation systems such as the NASA Small Aircraft Transportation System. (Professors Dave Downing and Richard Hale, in the Department of Aerospace Engineering)
A variety of projects under way at KU's Infrastructure Research Institute led by Distinguished Professor Dave Darwin, in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. IRI research has included studies of bridge deck cracking, corrosion protection systems for concrete reinforcing bar and clay soil evaluation and augmentation to increase quality of pavement performance.
Transportation Research Institute: http://www.engr.ku.edu/tri.html