Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Edwin Olson Receives NSF CyberSEES Award for Research in Sustainability of Municipal Solid Waste

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Professor Edwin Olson was recently awarded an NSF CyberSEES grant for the research project, “Sustainably Unlocking Energy from Municipal Solid Waste Using a Sensor-Driven Cyber-Infrastructure Framework." The principal investigator for the research project is Prof. Dimitrios Zekkos (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and the co-principal investigators are Prof. Olson and Prof. Jerome Lynch (Civil and Environmental Engineering).

The goal of the research is to revolutionize how Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is managed to provide a transformative means of extracting utility-scale energy from waste using next-generation facilities to be termed Sustainable Energy Reactor Facilities (SERFs). The majority of MSW generated every year is still disposed of in landfills despite national and international efforts aimed to increase recycling. In modern landfills, MSW is treated as a material to be isolated and contained. Current MSW management strategies cause sub-optimal degradation of landfill waste resulting in the generation of biogases (primarily methane and carbon dioxide) that are mostly flared, vented or leaked to the atmosphere where they remain as greenhouse gases (GHG). More information about the project is available in the CyberSEES grant posting by NSF.

Prof. Edwin Olson received his PhD in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008 for his work in robust robot mapping. Upon joining the Michigan faculty in 2008, he created the APRIL robotics lab, which studies Autonomy, Perception, Robotics, Interfaces, and Learning. His research interests include finding ways for robots to sense and understand their environment while coping with uncertainty and ambiguity, and his work includes both fundamental algorithm research (optimization, state estimation, classification) and system building. 

About the NSF CyberSEES Award

The awards aim to advance the science of sustainability in tandem with advances in computing and communication technologies. The two-to-four-year grants, ranging from $100,000 to $1.2 million, bring together teams of researchers from computer science and other disciplines to develop new tools, technologies and models that advance sustainability science.

Posted: October 21, 2014