Duke U Signs MOU with World Wildlife Fund

Duke University (NC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the World Wildlife Fund to collaborate on research, teaching and the advancement of conservation policy and science. The agreement will enhance existing collaborations and expand to form new ones in the areas of marine spatial planning, ecosystem services, climate change adaptation, evidence-based conservation, reduced emissions from forest degradation and deforestation (REDD), supply chain and other business opportunities.

U Calgary Assists with Green IT Research

Researchers from the University of Calgary's (AB) Grid Research Centre are assisting with a Cybera-led research project that aims to establish an emissions reduction protocol for international information and communication technology. Part of the GreenStar Network initiative, the project's first test case is Cybera's GeoChronos environmental monitoring web portal, which made the switch from a coal-powered computer center to a hydro-run center at the end of January 2011.

Arizona State U Engineer Earns NSF Award for Fuel Efficiency Work

An engineer from Arizona State University has earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his advances in the use of liquids and gases toward fuel efficiency. Marcus Herrmann has made strides in understanding how gases and liquids behave when used together to spark various mechanical and chemical processes. Better prediction and control of such processes will help advances toward the next generations of fuel and energy-conversion technologies, including fuel-injection systems, as well as environmental protection and management methods. The award includes a grant of $400,000 over five years for the research.

Cornell U Researcher Publishes Study on Natural Gas Impacts

A new study by an ecology and environmental biology professor at Cornell University (NY) suggests that the greenhouse gas footprint of unconventional natural gas development is worse than a traditional coal plant, says a recent New York Times Green blog post. The professor concluded in an analysis published in the peer-reviewed journal, Climatic Change Letters, that 3.6 percent to 7.9 percent of methane, the chief component of natural gas, is leaking into the atmosphere at various points along the shale gas production life cycle. This would make unconventional natural gas production associated with the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, worse than coal for the climate. This study joins the current media scrutiny surrounding natural gas as many institutions make the switch to natural gas from coal. Environmental advocates, according to this blog post, say that the first step in getting beyond the coal vs. natural gas debate is for the industry to stop refusing to take detailed measure of its methane leakage rates, to make that information public, and to submit to rules requiring them to capture it.

MIT Research Expands Solar Energy Potential

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a way to use the sun's energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases to be later recombined in fuel cells. This process imitates the process of plant photosynthesis. The result gives solar power the potential to provide a consistent energy source without inefficient losses during the storage process. Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry James Barber at Imperial College London called the breakthrough a "giant leap" toward meeting and exceeding the world’s energy requirements in a carbon neutral way.

U Arizona Researchers Study Compressed Air Energy

University of Arizona researchers are investigating a Compressed Air Energy Storage program that has the potential to power green technology when the university's power source is unavailable. The program is working to cheaply store compressed air for energy in man-made structures or in natural underground reservoirs. The stored air, created by compressors powered by another energy source, would power turbines when released and provide energy to homes and buildings when other sources of energy, such as solar power, aren't available. Storing large volumes of compressed air could be a potential problem, for it would take roughly two swimming pools worth to power the average house in Tucson, Ariz., but the researchers are also investigating the feasibility of saturating porous volcanic rocks beneath the neighboring Tucson Mountains with compressed air.

U Nebraska Researches Wind, Solar to Power Traffic Lights

Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are investigating the potential of wind and solar to power municipal traffic lights. Funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Energy Plus Roadways project seeks to find ways for renewable energy sources to meet the demand of city transportation infrastructures while potentially producing additional power to be sold back to the municipalities.

Indiana U Receives NASA Funding to Study Climate Change

Researchers at Indiana University’s Department of Geography are receiving a $637,000 grant from NASA to study climate change. The research will be conducted at a mangrove forest in Bangladesh, the largest mangrove block in the world. The researchers are working in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service to study the forest's capacity to store carbon. NASA’s funding for this project is part of the federal Carbon Cycle Science Program, which aims to determine to what extent human actions affect climate change.

U Minnesota Graduate Researchers Attempt Renewable Petroleum

Graduate students at the University of Minnesota are researching how to make renewable petroleum using only bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide. With a $2.2 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, the team is using Synechococcus, a bacterium that fixes carbon dioxide in sunlight and converts CO2 to sugars. Next, the sugar is fed to Shewanella, a bacterium that produces hydrocarbons. This turns CO2 into hydrocarbons. The research is published in the April issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

U Illinois Entomologist Wins $200K Environmental Science Award

An entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the 2011 recipient of the $200,000 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. Professor May R. Berenbaum is being honored for her pioneering work in chemical ecology that has led to an understanding of the relationships between insects and plants on a genetic level. Her research has also helped further understanding of the decline of bee populations known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

U South Sewanee Researches Campus Wind Power Potential

Sewanee: The University of the South (TN) is researching the potential for installing wind turbines on its campus. As a part of its research, the university erected two wind measuring devices known as anemometers. The two anemometers have been installed on 100-foot towers. The university is borrowing the equipment free of charge from the Anemometer Loan Program at the Tennessee Valley and Eastern Kentucky Wind Working Group. The year-long project will measure and record wind speed and direction every 10 minutes. After analyzing the data, the university will make a decision as to whether wind power is a viable alternative to reducing its carbon emissions.

Queen’s U Chemist Makes Green Discovery

Discovered by a chemist at Queen’s University (ON), a host of technologies with the potential to address global pollution problems have been exclusively licensed to GreenCentre Canada. The technologies pertain to solvents and surfactants, and they have gained the attention of oil industries because of their ability to reduce costs of removing oil from sand, gravel and other substrates. The breakthrough garnered several awards, including the Canadian Institute of Chemistry to call it one of the top 20 chemistry discoveries in Canada over the past 100 years.

EPA Awards Grant to Georgia Institutions for Clean Air Research

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a five-year grant of $8 million to Emory University (GA) and the Georgia Institute of Technology to create one of four national Clean Air Research Centers that will address the public health impacts of air pollution. The Southeastern Center for Air Pollution and Epidemiology (SCAPE) will characterize ambient air pollution mixtures and determine their specific role in human health risks, using new measurement and modeling approaches. The overall goal of the center is to contribute to improved management of air quality for the benefit of human health in the U.S. Air quality engineers and scientists from Georgia Tech will develop and apply detailed measurements and new modeling techniques to identify and track atmospheric contaminants and mixtures of these contaminants suspected of having adverse health effects.

U California Berkeley Chemist Turns Bacteria Into Biofuel

A University of California, Berkeley chemist has made a biofuel breakthrough by engineering bacteria to produce a biofuel similar to gasoline. The lead chemist of the research team developed the process working with students and colleagues. Their work is funded by the university and various foundations.

U Minnesota PhD Student Works to Simulate the Sun

A University of Minnesota Ph.D. student is researching ways to produce an effective solar simulation that could provide 24/7 energy in any weather condition. The project is leading to further research on how to make hydrocarbon, liquid fuel from solar energy.

Masdar, U.S. Dept of Energy Partner for Solar PV Coating Research

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Abu Dhabi) has announced a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy to test the performance of specially coated solar photovoltaic modules designed to avoid the moisture and cementation problems currently faced by PV module producers. Developed by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the coatings will be tested at a solar field in Masdar City following exchanges of scientific and technical information with the Masdar Institute.

U Western Sydney Highlights Research for World Wetlands Day

The University of Western Sydney (Australia), which is home to three forested wetlands that form part of a critically endangered ecological community on its Hawkesbury campus, recently celebrated 2011 World Wetlands Day by highlighting wetland research activities. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Australia has been a member country since 1975, with 65 wetland sites.

U Central Florida Builds Weather Station for Research

The University of Central Florida has built a weather station atop a green roof on the Physical Sciences buildings on its East Orlando campus. The weather station is updated hourly and can be viewed online. The hourly updates include temperature, humidity, dew point, wind speed and precipitation. This tool will allow researchers to study the various cooling potentials of native plants.

Southern Illinois U Carbondale to Research Glycerol as Cow Feed

Southern Illinois University Carbondale has announced plans for an automated biodiesel processor that will convert canola oil into biodiesel fuel and a way to use the byproduct. The manager of the university farm's Dairy Center will experiment this summer with replacing part of his herd's current corn feed with glycerol, the byproduct of converting recycled canola oil into biodiesel and then glycerin. Feeding glycerol to dairy cows could save $40 to $50 per day in corn feed expenses and enable the university to recycle 80 to 95 percent of its canola oil. The university's associate professor in animal sciences and food and nutrition says no studies show that introducing glycerol into dairy or beef cows' feed results in illness and plans to study the energy potential glycerol may have on dairy cows during the program. If the cows show any sign of illness, the program will stop. Students from the university's Dairy Club will operate tasks to create the biodiesel and glycerol.

Brigham Young U Researchers Discover New Form of Solar Energy

Brigham Young University (UT) chemistry professor Richard Watt and a team of graduate students have developed a process that mimics photosynthesis to create energy. It is still in the developmental phase, but the chemical reaction works by using protein, citric acid and gold atoms. Their study was recently published in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research.

U Calgary Plans Carbon Capture Research Center

Part of both the federal and Alberta governments' climate change strategies, the University of Calgary (AB) is planning for a research facility dedicated to carbon capture and sequestration. The Alberta government has pledged $2 billion toward four commercial-scale projects scheduled to start trapping industrial greenhouse gases by 2015. The research facility plans to host a small-scale project, used for student and industry training, technology testing and public education. It will also be used to develop monitoring methods for keeping CO2 trapped underground.

U Idaho Receives $25K Donation Toward Woody Biomass Research

The University of Idaho has received a $25,000 donation to fund research focused on converting woody biomass to energy. The gift from Texas-based Advanced Trailer and Equipment LP will allow the university to install a pilot-scale pyrolysis unit at its steam plant. Pyrolysis, a type of incineration that uses almost no oxygen, yields biofuel when applied to an organic material like wood. The company has also provided funding to formalize bioenergy and bioproducts efforts at the university.

Boise State U Opens Energy Efficiency Research Institute

Boise State University (ID) has announced that it will launch an Energy Efficiency Research Institute in collaboration with the University of Idaho, Idaho State University and the Idaho National Laboratory. The institute will use the university’s campus as a learning laboratory to establish better energy efficiency techniques, measurements and practices. Researchers plan to analyze data collected from electrical meters to generate ways to make the campus more energy efficient.

Eastern Kentucky U Opens Center for Renewable Energy

Eastern Kentucky University has opened its Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies. The facility has two large labs set for algae research and biomass analysis to create fuel for running vehicles. The center will host 10 research faculties to study biofuels and teach students agriculture, chemistry, biology and economics.

Oil Companies Turning to Institutions for Commercial Research

Oil companies have given millions to support energy research at institutions in the past decade, according to a recent report by the Center for American Progress. The report analyzes 10 research collaboration contracts between U.S. institutions and companies with a direct commercial stake in future energy markets like Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips. Much of the funding is being used for research into new sources of alternative energy and renewable energy, mostly biofuels. The report looks at why highly profitable oil companies are turning to institutions to perform their commercial research and development instead of conducting the work in-house, and why institutions are choosing to partner with oil companies.

U Mass Dartmouth Plans for Offshore Renewable Energy Test Site

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has announced plans to create a 300-square-mile zone offshore that will allow companies to test systems to create energy from wind, tides or waves. The National Ocean Renewable Energy Innovation Zone has received $1.5 million in federal funds and $160,000 from the office of the university's president. A related grant of $748,000 was announced for a two-year study of wind and ocean renewable energy resources based at the zone.

Saint Joseph's U Receives $1 Mil for Alternate Fuel, Green Roofs

Saint Joseph's University (PA) has been awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to study switchgrass as a potential biofuel crop and to conduct a comparison of green roof systems. The multi-year switchgrass study will look at the effects of changes in precipitation, temperature, nitrogen disposition and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide on the potential yield of switchgrass varieties. The university will also install a system to permit a direct, side-by-side comparison of a variety of commercial green roof systems. Educational events including public tours of the green roof facility will be held throughout the research process.

Chatham U Revives Campus Root Cellar

In addition to providing Chatham University (PA) students with a place to hold their apple orchard and organic garden bounty, the recent restoration of the Eden Hall Root Cellar is part of an ongoing research project that will include the concept in a sustainable, affordable model kitchen design. Chatham professors in the interior architecture department believe that as energy costs rise, root cellars should make a comeback as a low-cost way to keep produce through the winter. Apples, potatoes, beets, celeriac root, horseradish, Belgian endive, cabbage, carrots and winter squash will keep for up to six months in a root cellar. The research is looking at ways to incorporate old and new technologies like an insulated root vegetable storage drawer that is vented to maintain the outside room temperature. Students will help document temperature and humidity levels in the cellar and feed the results into a software program that will determine an optimum environment.

Syracuse U Receives Plug-In Hybrids for Demonstration Programs

Syracuse University (NY) has received two Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids as part of Toyota Motor Sales, Inc.'s U.S. plug-in demonstration program. As the vehicles gather miles, data such as fuel economy, miles driven and charging times will be viewable online. Demonstration partners will share data and compare usage and performance of the vehicles. The university’s participation in the program will allow students to determine the benefits of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

U Washington, Oregon State U Collaborate on Wave Energy

The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, a Department of Energy-funded partnership between Oregon State University and the University of Washington, will begin researching the ability to harness energy from the ocean. Oregon State University will focus on wave energy research and development while the University of Washington will concentrate on tidal energy research and development.

North Carolina State U Researchers to Study Electrical Grid

North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus has announced that research scientists, in conjunction with the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems Center, will use newly installed solar panels on campus to study how to integrate alternative technologies with the electrical grid. The center, under the leadership of the university’s College of Engineering, received funding from the National Science Foundation. The goal of the center is to tackle technological challenges associated with decentralization and integration of the nation’s power grid with wind, solar and other alternative energy sources.

Pennsylvania State U Researchers Converts Canola Seed to Fuel

Pennsylvania State University researchers have begun conducting an experiment to see if pressing canola seed can convert it into cooking oil and biodiesel fuel. The goal of the project is to create and produce a form of canola oil that can be used in on-campus dining hall fryers and in return use for fuel. The project hopes to produce biodiesel through plant oils such as soybean, canola, rapeseed and camelina.

Rutgers U Camden Professor Looks to E. coli for Biodiesel

An associate professor of computer science at Rutgers University-Camden (NJ) is researching how to engineer the bacteria E. coli to produce biodiesel fuel derived from fatty acids. The professor is after a more sustainable way to create renewable energy by making fuels without the use of food. The project will continue with the assistance of researchers from Harvard University (MA).

Washington State U Works With Camelina Farmer for Fuel

Washington State University has partnered with a local wheat and barley farmer who has dedicated part of his operation to camelina, an ancient oilseed crop and one of the newest possibilities for sustainable biofuels production. University scientists will work with the farmer on refining camelina varieties, cropping practices, economics and marketing. Every 100 pounds of seed produces between five and six gallons of oil.

Evergreen State College Performs Biomass Plant Study

Spurred by the students, faculty and administrators working to make Evergreen State College (WA) carbon neutral by 2020, the college has started a $200,000 study to determine whether a $10 million investment in wood waste makes technical, economic and environmental sense. Natural gas currently burned in campus steam boilers equals 40 percent of the college’s carbon footprint. Proponents believe that substituting wood waste to create steam with a biomass gasification plant will create fewer pollutants and as long as the wood waste is replenished in the forest, the net effect is that carbon released in the atmosphere is equal to the carbon stored in trees. Opponents believe the biomass project will emit twice as much carbon as the gas-fired plant.

U Toledo Announces Solar Research and Development Partnership

The University of Toledo (OH) has partnered with silicone supplier Dow Corning for discussions on photovoltaic solar research and development efforts to help reduce solar energy costs. The collaboration will offer researchers from both organizations the opportunity to share data and technology, and could include additional universities and businesses in the future.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan U Collects Sustainable Living Data

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's (South Africa) Georgia campus has begun a campus project to collect data on sustainable living compared to that of conventional households. The university launched the Green Campus Initiative to compare three houses equipped with solar energy geysers and rainwater harvesting systems to a sample of identical houses utilizing conventional systems. Student homes were equipped with solar panels for heating water and simple mechanisms to ensure sustainable use of water. Two groups of students living in each type of house are monitoring and comparing daily energy and household water consumption. The research will be used to raise awareness about energy consumption and the campus hopes the results will help develop a practical model that can be applied to other institutions.

NY Times Features Masdar Institute for Science and Technology

The New York Times recently featured the Masdar Institute for Science and Technology (Abu Dhabi). The school is the centerpiece of a $22 billion research park outside of Abu Dhabi, says the article, and was created to further Abu Dhabi's plan to transform itself from a resource-based economy to one rooted in the knowledge and service sectors. The school's vision is to become a world leader in energy and sustainability research. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has signed on to consult through 2012, helping to develop the school's academic and research programs; recruiting, interviewing and recommending all faculty hires; drafting the terms and conditions of employment; and helping to select the first class of students. The school will launch its doctoral program this fall.

U Queensland Awarded $6.5 Mil for Algae Aviation Fuel Research

The University of Queensland (Australia) has been awarded nearly $6.5 million in state government funding for research that aims to produce aviation fuel from algae. The aviation biofuel research is backed by Boeing and Virgin Blue airlines and will be spearheaded by the university's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

U York Debuts Suite of Green Chemistry Laboratories

The University of York (UK) has debuted the Green Chemical Technology Facility with plans to advance its research in renewable resources. Funded in part by the Wolfson/Royal Society and the European Regional Development Fund, the laboratory will enable the university to explore biomaterials, clean synthesis and platform molecules, and study the effects of microwaves on compounds for the selective conversion of biomass to chemicals with a biorefinery microwave demonstrator.

Rochester Inst of Tech to Research Energy Use in Collections

The Rochester Institute of Technology's (NY) Image Permanence Institute has received two grants totaling $648,405 to fund sustainable heating, venting and air conditioning operations in campus library, archives and museum collections. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will fund a three-year project that will search for the best ways to reduce energy use without compromising the preservation quality of collection environments. The NEH will also fund a two-year education and training project that will help collections staff avoid risks to collections while supporting sustainability and energy-reduction efforts.

U California San Diego Partners with SANYO for Energy Research

The University of California, San Diego has announced a research collaboration with electronic corporation SANYO. The multi-year, multi-disciplinary collaboration will focus on renewable energy and energy storage research, development and education. The partnership will explore ways to combine technology through joint research, and create an Energy Development Open Platform to propose application services able to optimize energy use.

Vermont Law School Receives Grant for Smart Grid Research

Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment has received a $450,000 federal grant to conduct smart grid research and analysis. The project will assess the U.S. power grid’s legal and regulatory structures on the national, regional and state levels to improve load management and system efficiency. The project will also provide the legal and policy foundation needed to protect customer information and increase the efficiency of the transmission system, which will reduce financial costs and environmental emissions.

U Minnesota Morris Produces Fertilizer from Wind

The University of Minnesota, Morris has designed a $3.75 million carbon-free system that uses wind power from a turbine to produce a common nitrogen-based fertilizer. The fertilizer produced will be used on university farmland. The plant will use surplus energy generated on-site by a 1.65-megawatt wind turbine that already helps power the campus. The system creates fertilizer by using an air separation unit to pull nitrogen from the air, while the turbine powers large electrolyzers that separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. The nitrogen and hydrogen are then synthesized into anhydrous ammonia using a century-old chemical process called Haber-Bosch. Using wind to power the electrolyzers instead of natural gas makes it a carbon-free process that releases no greenhouse gases.

Indiana U Announces Sustainability Grant Recipients

Indiana University has announced four recipients of its Sustainability Research Development Grants. The winning research initiatives cover topics that include agroforestry in southern Mexico, the impact on community sustainability of Home Depot's product donation program, remediation of exotic invasive species in Dunn's Woods, and food waste at Indiana University. Each project will receive $10,000 that can be used for graduate fellowships, faculty research fund awards, or summer faculty fellowships.

U Nevada Reno Receives Grant for National Geothermal Institute

The University of Nevada, Reno has received a $1.2 million federal grant to develop and operate the National Geothermal Institute. The institute will provide research and augment work at the University’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy. The institute will serve as a consortium of geothermal schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University (NY), Stanford University (CA), the Oregon Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah. The geothermal program is expected to offer a series of eight one-week courses with additional field trips and a project required. Classes may begin as early as the spring semester of 2011.

EPA Announces 2010 P3 Award Winners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the winners of its 2010 P3 (People, Prosperity, and the Planet) Awards Competition. The national competition enables college students to research, develop, and design scientific, technical, and policy solutions to sustainability challenges. Paul Anastas, EPA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research & Development, increased the number of awards issued to 14 (totaling $1 million) this year because the projects were so impressive. The winners include: Appalachian State University (NC); Clarkson University (NY); Clemson University (SC); Cornell University (NY); Drexel University (PA); Harvard University (MA); Humboldt State University (CA); North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Roger Williams University (RI); Texas A&M University; University of Illinois at Champaign; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Virginia Tech.

U Western Ontario Plans Wind Research Center

University of Western Ontario has announced plans to build a $25 million dollar wind turbine research center. The Wind, Engineering, Energy and Environment (WindEEE) Dome will serve as a wind tunnel, test turbine designs and parts, and study the most efficient way to capture wind energy. The facility will help improve the structural engineering of wind turbines and the design of wind farms. The WindEEE Dome is designed to be 40 meters across and will contain more than 100 fans, each about one meter in diameter. Together, they can create winds of up to 100 kilometers per hour.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Opens Solar Research Center

Massachusetts Institute of Technology has opened a new solar research center. The Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center is funded by Italian energy company, Eni. The Center, which aims to transform how the world produces and consumes energy, promotes research in advanced solar technologies through projects ranging from new materials to hydrogen production from solar energy.

Montclair State U Launches Institute for Sustainability Studies

Montclair State University (NJ) has opened its PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies. Established by a $400,000 three-year grant from the PSEG Foundation, the Institute will conduct sustainability science research, education, public policy development, and outreach. The grant will allow the University to examine issues affecting long-term environmental practices and sustainability issues in New Jersey. The University will also research the management of urban watershed-coastal ecosystems. The program will begin with an international conference on sustainability this fall.