Member Spotlights: Zicheng (Kevin) Bi

Sustainable Urban Systems

Zicheng (Kevin) Bi is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is a life cycle assessment (LCA) specialist working at the nexus of emerging clean vehicle technologies and transportation infrastructure networks. His research examines the roles of the emerging wireless charging technology and connected and automated vehicles in enhancing the sustainability of future electrified mobility. He integrated LCA with optimization models to understand the life cycle energy, emissions, and economic trade-offs of deploying emerging technologies and inform decision-making in urban transportation infrastructure planning. His work provides strategies for OEMs and city planners to deploy the emerging wireless charging technology for electric vehicles with minimized environmental impacts and his expertise bridges the gap of traditional engineering research and real-world deployment. He earned his M.S. in School for Environment and Sustainability and M.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. He also earned B.E. in Environmental Engineering in Zhejiang University. To learn more about his research, please visit:

 Zicheng’s main research interest areas:

  • Emerging technologies for sustainable transportation
  • Transportation planning informed by life cycle assessment and optimization
  • Energy efficiency improvement of shared, automated, and electric mobility systems

 Zicheng’s  favorite cities and why:

“I enjoy living in Ann Arbor, a college town in Michigan surrounded by parks, rivers, and lakes. Even after living here for almost five years, I still have not explored all the best things Ann Arbor has to offer: summer art festivals, performances, museums, canoeing, and fishing, etc., just to name a few. The city is well-planned with convenient public transportation and shared mobility systems and pioneering in achieving urban sustainability goals. Well-educated citizens and their taste for art make the city vivid and lovely.”

Zicheng’s thought on collaboration:

Achieving the sustainability of future mobility requires the mobilization of government, business entities, research institutes, and social organizations. Cross-disciplinary collaboration is essential to bridge the gaps in research and real-world deployment. I am particularly interested in working with policy makers and OEMs to develop solutions to the bottlenecks of electrified mobility systems. My research on the life cycle assessment of wireless charging technology involves collaborations and inputs from different stakeholders, such as OEMs, national labs, universities, and transportation administrations.”

How Zicheng got interested in cities research and sustainability:

“Witnessing the environmental problems of overpopulated cities in China has strengthened my belief that human activities should never exceed the carrying capacity of the environment. Overexploiting the limited natural resources more than the nature has to offer could lead to ecological disasters. Currently, the urban transportation is heavily reliant on fossil fuels, which causes many air pollution problems in megacities. Developing clean vehicles with renewable energy is key to cutting down the environmental burdens of this intense human activity. Sustainability research using life cycle assessment approaches provides lens to critically understand the benefits and trade-offs of the emerging technologies in sustainable transportation. For example, electric vehicles have efficient powertrains and no tailpipe emissions, but are dependent on the electric grid which may contain fossil fuels. For another example, wireless charging can eliminate the range anxiety and boost sales of electric vehicles by enabling charging-while-driving, but requires a large-scale infrastructure deployment. Thinking broadly and critically is a unique and fascinating part of sustainability research.”