The Energy Research Institute is an umbrella organization for more than 170 faculty, staff and students in 11 departments working in the fields of clean-coal technology, fuel cells, wind, coal bed methane and biofuels and accounting for roughly $15 million in research dollars annually.
"The institute will be looking primarily at identifying new opportunities for coordination among MSU's existing programs that could result in a greater benefit," Spangler said. "We also anticipate bringing groups of researchers together, hosting speakers for a seminar series and promoting the university's national and international reputation in the energy field."
Energy research is critical to the energy and climate problems facing the nation and the world, Spangler said.
"Annually, the world's energy production - 85 percent of which comes from fossil fuels - emits roughly 28 gigatons of the greenhouse gas CO2 into the atmosphere," Spangler said. "A single gigaton is a billion tons or the equivalent of 142 million African elephants."
Gigatons of CO2 provide an easy-to-understand measure of the world's energy consumption and the challenges in finding alternatives, Spangler said.
"If every car in the world could suddenly get 80 mpg that would eliminate one gigaton of CO2. If we could boost the United State's wind capacity by 150 times, that would equal one gigaton. To save one gigaton through ethanol would require 15 times all the cropland in Iowa to be planted in corn," Spangler said. "If every light in the United States were changed to a compact fluorescent, that would only equal 12 percent of a gigaton."
Spangler cites those numbers to drive home the point that solutions to the world's energy problems must come from many different areas.
"By tackling the problem from many different fields - engineering, agriculture, the physical sciences -- we can find solutions, and it will take multiple solutions" Spangler said.
Spangler will continue his duties as associate vice president for research as well as his directorships over two important research centers at MSU, the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership and the Zero Emissions Research and Technology Center. Spangler, who came to MSU in 1987, holds a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. During his career he was twice awarded an Andrew Mellon Fellowship; earned a Mobay Fellowship, ACS Physical Division Procter & Gamble Award and Los Alamos National Laboratory Director's Funded Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Contact: Lee Spangler, (406) 994-4399 or firstname.lastname@example.org