Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

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Origami-inspired shelters could serve military, disaster relief efforts

August 18, 2015 • Categories: Annual Report

Ashley Thrall with the origami shelter in the Ave Maria Press building

Most people are familiar with origami, the ancient paper-folding art form that creates unique patterns and shapes. Less familiar is the fact that origami has inspired the design of engineering devices and structures.

Ashley P. Thrall, Myron and Rosemary Noble Assistant Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, is developing origami-inspired shelters that have many potential uses from military applications to humanitarian assistance. Through funding from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Thrall, faculty in aerospace and mechanical and also electrical engineering and their team of students and postdoctoral research associates are developing an origami-inspired deployable shelter with integrated planning and management.

The origami shelter created by Thrall and her team would reduce energy consumption, would be deployable by a few soldiers in about half an hour, and could be transported by plane, ship or truck on a standard military pallet. It also holds great promise as an environmentally friendly shelter for disaster relief efforts around the world.

Climate change through the lens of impact investing

August 13, 2015 • Categories: Annual Report


Climate change presents daunting challenges along myriad fronts, including environmental effects, government policies, human services — and business investment. In just the next two decades, an estimated investment of $53 trillion will be required to limit the rise in global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius, according to the International Energy Agency. Even at that level, the agency puts the odds at just 50 percent.

Congratulations to the 2015 Energy RET Participants

August 05, 2015 • Categories: Annual Report and ND Energy


The final year of the NSF Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) – Engineering a More Sustainable Energy Future – came to a close on July 31st. Ten (10) Science teachers from local high schools participated in the seven-week program and focused their attention on conducting energy-related research that was used to develop new curriculum for their classrooms.  Each teacher completed 280 hours of course study and hands-on laboratory work and presented their final research results and curriculum at a campus-wide poster demonstration at the Jordan Hall of Science. Research topics included Ionic Liquids, global change ecology, fossil fuels, radionuclide sorption to support safer nuclear waste disposal, fabrication of perovskite solar cells, uranium materials, solar power, gas separations, energy efficient carbon capture materials, and selective chemical oxidations.…

Notre Dame receives $1.6 million from Accenture to expand technology and opportunity in Uganda and South Africa

August 03, 2015

Johannesburg, South Africa

The University of Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) has received $1.6 million from Accenture — one of the world’s leading professional services companies, with capabilities in consulting, strategy, digital, technology and operations — to expand the Connectivity, Electricity and Education for Entrepreneurship (CE3) project.

CE3 empowers disconnected communities in northern Uganda by harnessing solar energy to deliver clean, efficient, renewable power and Wi-Fi connectivity to off-grid communities, significantly improving access to technology, job-skills training and mentoring. The project was introduced in 2012 by NDIGD and Accenture as a pilot program in rural northern Uganda, resulting in 40 new business startups and more than 130 new jobs.