Dr. Steven Skerlos is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has been a faculty member at the University of Michigan since 2000 and Professor Skerlos is known as a scholar in the field of sustainable design focusing on applications of technology in product design, manufacturing, and water reuse.
Q: What does your research currently focus on?
A: My research develops technology and systems analyses that promote solutions that work for people, the economy, and the environment simultaneously.
Q: Based upon your research, how well is DAC or carbon management technology understood by policy makers? What, if anything, can researchers do to expand their understanding of the tech and opportunity?
A: At the highest levels, many policy makers believe that technological solutions will avert the climate crisis. Fundamentally they need to understand these are social and economic issues that cannot be addressed with historical institutions and traditional thinking.
Q: What role do you think carbon technology or CO2-based products play in climate mitigation policies?
A: As someone who founded a company that uses a lot of CO2-based products, I’m skeptical that anyone will find timely, economic, and appropriately scaled CO2-based products that will have a meaningful impact on the climate. My research shows we only have 10 years to get this right.
Q: What real world application or sector(s) do you see your research or tech having the most impact on?
A: I have a company, Fusion Coolant Systems, that is literally changing machining in the biomedical, aerospace, and automotive industries. This is using CO2 to improve worker health, eliminate water pollution, and increase productivity.
My recent systems analysis research makes clear the timeline under which we must move off of business as usual, and the costs of inaction, in the U.S. electric sector.
Q: How do students react to your work or this climate mitigation approach in general?
A: Students want to get involved!
Q: What advice do you have for technologists or entrepreneurs starting off in this field?
A: Let the numbers guide you; stay out of the politics of it.