A Quickie with 

Dr. Loren Crabtree, Chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville

The recently approved $286 billion National Transportation Bill allocated $8 million in funding for the University of Tennessee's National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) and another $20 million for a new Joint Research Materials Institute. The institute will be a partnership between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. According to Loren Crabtree, the big picture in transportation research involves thinking small:

Q: What will be the major areas of research for this new joint research facility?

A: This building will deal largely in nano-science, that is to say, on the molecular and atomic scale. It will be looking at ways to improve and develop fuel-cell technology and hybrid engines and will work towards the hydrogen economy. Of course, hydrogen is still 20 years off. We will also be looking into creating new materials for vehicles, engines, and roads.

Q: How does this differ from the work done at the NTRC?

A: The NTRC does a lot more work in the here-and-now. It studies current problems and things like the logistics of transportation.

Q: Does any of this have anything to do specifically with Tennessee?

A: Yes, absolutely. We do a lot of research, for example, on the large freight trucks that operate on Tennessee highways. We investigate how safe their brakes are. We look into ways to reduce the pollution they cause. Also, there is the research on pavement, how to make it better and prevent it from being torn up.

Q: What are some of the major changes you foresee in transportation?

A: Hybrid engines are the immediate future. We are going to start seeing them come into heavier vehicles like pickup trucks. I don't think it's a matter of convincing the public, because Toyota has a six-month backlog of orders. I think it's a matter of producing them and getting them into the hands of the people.

Q: How can America improve its transportation systems?

A: We really need to invest in mass transportation. It would be a delight to have some form of east-west mass transit here in Knoxville, but what I think the country really needs is both light and heavy rail. This would greatly benefit both concentrated areas of population in the east and sparsely populated ones in the west.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Answering the Call

      City leaders work to make emergency response more efficient.
    • Dead Water

      Tennessee contributes to massive toxic plume in Gulf of Mexico.


Beyond the Arc

Celtics 102, Grizzlies 93: Five Thoughts

Tiger Blue

Louisville 81, Tigers 72

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Beyond the Arc


News Blog

Public Picks Zoo Parking Lot Plan

Politics Beat Blog

Left Activists Intrude on Meeting of Shelby County Democrats

Politics Beat Blog

GOP Figure Bill Giannini Killed in Car Crash

Politics Beat Blog

Mackler Out of Senate Race, Yields to Bredesen

Beyond the Arc

The Hustle Dispatch: Week 6

News Blog

Cooper-Young Nears Historical Landmark Status


More by Ben Popper

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation