The Michigan Engineer News Center

Emmy Award for Fracktopia documentary

Michigan Engineering's short documentary Fracktopia has won an Emmy Award from the Michigan chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.| Short Read

Brian Ellis, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is featured in the documentary, which examines the process and consequences of hydraulic fracturing and shale gas drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing is changing the nation’s energy landscape, and some say that’s happening faster than researchers can determine its impacts, and faster than policymakers can regulate the practice.

Fracktopia visits a gas well in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania — one of the earliest epicenters of shale gas drilling. There, industry experts and drillers explain how they do it. The documentary gives viewers a glimpse into life in a shale field from the perspective of a farmer who sold his mineral rights and a homeowner who didn’t when her neighbors did. It also includes perspectives of researchers developing more sustainable fracking processes as well as those looking into what might happen over the decades as chemicals injected during the fracking process react with the Earth.

Fracktopia was produced by Marcin Szczepanski, Nicole Casal Moore and Dan Kim. It premiered at a town hall meeting sponsored by the College of Engineering and Michigan Radio and moderated by investigative reporter Lester Graham. The video was part of a digital multimedia experience that includes photos and stories that delve into the process of shale gas extraction, research into the consequences, and the future of fracking in Michigan.

To watch Fracktopia, please click the box below.

  • Portrait of Brian Ellis

    Brian Ellis

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read