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History

Since its founding in 1992, the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) has had a history of innovation and entrepreneurship. The lab was established through a partnership with the City of Fort Collins which provided Colorado State University access to the then vacant Fort Collins Power Plant. Originally constructed in 1936, the historic 24,000ft2 building has allowed the EECL to build unique facilities capable of conducting experimental research on engines ranging in size from 1hp to 2500 hp.

Our earliest work with natural gas pipeline engines produced a series of market driven environmental solutions that have transformed the industry. In the last five years we've kept the same approach, but have expanded our scope to encompass areas both upstream (fuels) and downstream (power grids) of our core engine expertise. In addition, we have applied this core expertise in energy conversion technology and product development to the creation of solutions with a global impact on energy production, conversion, and consumption - testing new energy technologies around the world including India, The Philippines, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Nepal. Cumulative research awards for the EECL now exceed $25 million and in 2010, the EECL was renamed one of CSU's elite "Programs of Research and Scholarly Excellence."

Milestones

  • 2011
    Bryan Willson elected as an SAE Fellow. This is the highest grade of membership in SAE, it recognizes and honors long-term members who have made a significant impact on society's mobility technology. Election to Fellow is only bestowed on around 20 recipients a year.
  • 2010
    Nathan Lorenz and Tim Bauer, cofounders of Envirofit International and EECL alumni, are recognized by the Colorado State University Alumni Association with the William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award – the highest honor given by the Alumni Association. The award is reserved for alumni who have excelled at the national and international levels, and for those who have attained extraordinary distinction and success in their endeavors.
  • 2010
    Popular Science ranks the EECL sixth out of 30 "most awesome" university labs in the United States.
  • 2009
    The EECL begins to equip our InteGrid Test and Development Laboratory to contribute to FortZED’s effort to develop a 5-megawatt “jump start” demonstration by 2010 using smart grid technology and reducing peak load demand by 20-30%.
  • 2009
    EECL Professor Thomas Bradley is awarded a grant to help make a product ready for market that would keep fire fighters cool inside their heavy fire-proof gear, an issue nationally recognized as one of the biggest concerns facing firefighters. Dr. Bradley is focused on using advanced system design tools with experimental validation to advance the state of the art in practical, demonstrable systems.
  • 2009
    Bryan Willson joins President Barack Obama, Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the first “Scientific American 10” honor roll for innovations that benefit humanity. “We are delighted to recognize you for your leadership of the Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory at Colorado State University, and in particular for its development of both a cleaner, affordable cooking stove and a conversion kit for improving the efficiency of two-stroke engines in the developing world,” the magazine editors wrote to Willson.
  • 2008
    The Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory was honored to receive the Royal Award for Sustainable Technology Transfer. This prestigious award was presented by HRH Crown Prince Felipe of Spain, and HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in recognition of our model of technology transfer and commercialization.
  • 2008
    The EECL is proud to play a leading role in the Colorado State University Clean Energy Supercluster. The mission of the Supercluster is to deliver solutions in clean energy through more effective partnering with the clean energy industry, governments, investors, and the public to rapidly develop products opportunities emerging from CSU's world-class energy research.
  • 2008
    The EECL is a founding member of FortZED " a community effort to bring together diverse partners to update antiquated energy distribution channels and create clean energy related jobs in northern Colorado. The goal is to create a zero-energy district that unites downtown Fort Collins and the campus of Colorado State University.
  • 2007
    The Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise Program is launched in CSU's school of Business. The unique graduate degree program is based on two core beliefs: Business can, and should, be a powerful force for positive change, and Entrepreneurship and innovation must be focused on solving the global challenges of our time.
  • 2006
    The Global Innovation Center develops improved cook stoves for home use that will produce electricity as well as reduce biomass consumption. Prototype stoves have been manufactured in India and field tests are currently underway in Nicaragua, India, and Nepal.
  • 2006
    The EECL helps launch Solix Biofuels Inc. to commercialize technology that can cheaply mass produce oil derived from algae and turn it into biodiesel - an environmentally friendly solution to high gas prices, greenhouse gas emissions and volatile global energy markets.
  • 2006
    The EECL partners with local start-up Spirae to build the Grid Simulation Laboratory (GSL). With the ability to connect to the grid and export up to 400kW of power, GSL enables Spirae and the EECL to develop technologies to help integrate renewable and distributed power into the electric grid.
  • 2006
    Envirofit is recognized by the Stanford Social Innovation Review as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Technologies for Creating Social Change.
  • 2005
    Envirofit is selected by The Tech Museum Awards as one of its five 2005 Intel Environmental Laureates.
  • 2004
    Bryan Willson and Paul Hudnut establish the Global Innovation Center for Energy, Environment, and Health. The goal of the center is to improve global health by developing technology and business structures to disseminate sustainable solutions for some of the world's most pressing environmental problems.
  • 2003
    Envirofit International is founded on technology developed at the EECL which has the potential to reduce over a ton of air pollution on each two stroke engine retrofitted with the technology. Envirofit sets a goal of retrofitting 2 million vehicles in Asia.
  • 2000
    The EECL is awarded $1 million research grant to develop laser ignition system for natural gas engines as part of the Department of Energy's Advanced Reciprocating Engine Systems (ARES) project. The technology, which will improve efficiency and lower emissions, is now in pre-commercialization development with an industrial sponsor.
  • 1998
    In an historic move, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partners with the EECL and Industry to cooperatively develop new emissions targets for stationary natural gas and diesel engines.
  • 1993
    The EECL begins research and development work on HPFI (High Pressure Fuel Injection). Three years later the technology is commercialized by multiple companies, including Enginuity, a company founded in part by EECL alumni. Today HPFI is responsible for preventing 100 million pounds of Nitrogen Oxide pollution and has saved over 2.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
  • 1992
    Dr. Bryan Willson establishes the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) at Colorado State University in the Old Fort Collins Power Plant (built in 1936). The EECL receives its first engine from Southern California Gas Company, a massive engine used for transporting natural gas throughout the U.S. pipeline system.