With an average of only 174 sunny days every year and many months of cold weather, East Lansing, Michigan may seem like an unlikely hub for solar energy research. However, MSU's commitment to sustainability is driving university researchers to uncover clean energy solutions, no matter the difficulty.

"We're testing the effectiveness of solar water heaters in Michigan's climate, specifically on MSU's campus," said PhD candidate Sina Jahangiri, solar water heater researcher from MSU's Department of Mechanical Engineering, "as water accounts for a substantial portion of energy use at many residential, commercial and institutional buildings, the project has an opportunity not only to reduce environmental footprint, but also to lower energy cost."
Enlarged quoted text reads: The project has an opportunity not only to reduce environmental footprint, but also to lower energy cost.
Situated at MSU's Turfgrass Research Facility, the solar water heater project is contrasting two solar water heating systems. The first is a flat plate collector, which is less expensive and easy to assemble, but has lower efficiency on cloudy days and is more susceptible to freezing in cold temperatures. The second is an evacuated tube collector, which is pricier, but more efficient in cloudy weather and colder temperatures. Jahangiri's research team is hopeful that the study will reveal which system is practical for MSU's campus in order to inform potential future installations.

A photo of the evacuated tube collector system for solar water heating. The system is made up of multiple glass tubes attached to an alumnium casing.
Evacuated tube collector system for solar water heating