Adam C. Powell, IV is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department who joined the WPI faculty in August 2018. His field is materials processing, and research focuses on greenhouse gas emissions reduction, elimination, and drawdown. Current projects aim to reduce vehicle body weight, lower solar cell manufacturing energy use and cost with improved safety, reduce or eliminate aviation greenhouse gas impact, power ships and trains with zero emissions, and improve grid stability as we drive toward 100% renewables. The primary tool for achieving these goals is mathematical modeling of metal processes, particularly electrochemical processes, validated by key experiments.
Powell's research has resulted in 17 patents and 72 publications across materials classes: metal extraction/refining and product development, thin films, ceramic coatings, polymer membranes, batteries, and electromagnetic propulsion. He is the author of nine open source computational tools in materials processing, microstructure and thermodynamics modeling.
Powell is fluent in Japanese, and as a University of Tokyo Foreign Collaborative Researcher, gives technical talks in Japanese to industry, government and academic audiences.
Professional Highlights & Honors
WPI mechanical engineering professor Adam Powell appeared in a 3-minute segment on Boston 25 News discussing approaches to reducing corrosion in cars. Powell, who was awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy, noted that WPI “…will be creating advanced lightweight components that can last as long as the rest of conventional cars.” (References to WPI start at 1:56.)
WCVB highlighted research by Adam Powell, associate professor of mechanical engineering, who is testing a new type of welding that may make the joint between light metal alloys more resistant to corrosion, including salt spray, leading to future designs of durable, next-generation metal car joints used in ultra-light car doors and other vehicle body applications. “Typically, if you reduce the weight by 10 percent, you get five percent better gas mileage,” (1:40) Powell told WCVB.