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Updated 11:00 AM September 27, 2004




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Phoenix Project scope expanded

Fifty-six years after it established the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project (MMPP), the Board of Regents voted Sept. 23 to expand its scope of research to include all forms of energy-related inquiries.

MMPP was created in 1948 as a memorial to U-M alumni who lost their lives in World War II, with the original charge of exploring the potential peaceful uses of atomic energy. In 1951, the Phoenix Memorial Laboratory was completed, and then the Ford Nuclear Reactor was brought online in 1955. After a lengthy study conducted in 2000 showed that few U-M researchers were using the facility, which was becoming more costly to run, the decision was made to decommission the reactor and find new uses for the laboratory space.

"To assure that this WWII memorial remains a relevant and lasting tribute to those who fought and gave their lives during the war, the University is expanding the mission of MMPP to include research on the development of energy sources and energy policies that will promote world peace, the responsible use of the environment, and economic prosperity," Fawwaz Ulaby, vice president for research, wrote in the request for action by the regents.

Ulaby said projects could include nuclear, hydrogen, solar, wind and geothermal, as well as energy storage, energy management and energy policy. They could encompass the natural and social sciences, engineering, medicine, and the arts and humanities.

"The goal is for MMPP to become a center for coordination of research activities from a variety of disciplines that are presently dispersed across multiple schools and colleges," he wrote.

Since the MMPP was established, significant progress has been made in the use of nuclear science in medicine, engineering, geology and anthropology, Ulaby told regents.

"Such progress notwithstanding, two major challenges embodied in MMPP remain as relevant and intractable today as they were in the late 1940s: the need for a viable, long-term energy policy and the continued need to find ways for people and nations to live together peacefully."

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