U Penn Faculty Receive Alternative Energy Research Grants

Five alternative energy research projects have received a total of $500,000 from the Energy Commercialization Institute. Projects include exploring thin-film ferroelectric semiconductors as a way to make solar cells more efficient, as well as easier and cheaper to produce; new ways to keep solar panels clean; and a prototype for energy storage technology.

U California Davis Awarded $2.7 M for Alternative Fuel Research

(U.S.): The California Energy Commission has approved a two-year, $2.77 million grant to the university's Institute of Transportation Studies to research the value, benefits and drawbacks of all types of alternative transportation fuels and fuel uses in the state. The grant will support teams of research leaders and graduate students in the institute’s NextSTEPS consortium as they complete research tasks.

Oregon IT Renewable Energy Program Plans Battery Research

The institute has partnered with Powin Energy to provide battery testing equipment for students and faculty in the renewable engineering program. Students will conduct advanced experiments on batteries, the results of which will be publicly disseminated to help inform companies that design and use batteries.

U Illinois Chicago Researcher Studies More Efficient Solar Energy

A professor and head of chemistry at the university has received a $390,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to test methods of coating solar panel films using nanoparticles from a chemical group called metal chalcogenides. The inexpensive films could be wrapped over everything from vehicles to buildings to gain maximum sunshine exposure and produce electricity.

Michigan State U Plans Urban Agriculture Research Campus

The university has partnered with the City of Detroit to pursue an urban agriculture research campus within the city that may include a large working farm and innovative research techniques, such as transforming empty buildings into multi-tiered farms. The university has agreed to spend $500,000 a year for three years to explore the creation of what would be called the Metropolitan Food Plus Innovation Cluster. The agreement states that the university and the city would approach businesses, nonprofits and government sources for funds to pay for the center.

U California Berkeley Plans First CO2 Sensor Network in Oakland

The university's upcoming urban sensor network installation will provide real-time, neighborhood-by-neighborhood measurements of carbon dioxide. The prototype network will employ 40 sensors spread over a 27-square-mile grid, most of them mounted atop schools to engage students in the project. The information the network will provide could be used to monitor local carbon dioxide emissions to check on the effectiveness of carbon reduction strategies now mandated by the state.

Obama Administration Announces 'Clean Coal' Research Awards

(U.S.): Student-led teams at nine colleges and universities across the country have been selected to advance "clean coal" energy production. The institutions will receive about $300,000 each to research cleaner and more cost-competitive coal-fired energy.

U Saskatchewan Receives $4.4 M to Explore Sustainability Issues

Two university researchers have been awarded more than $4.4 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for two sustainability-related research projects. The first project explores the transition from traditional to industrial farming over the past two centuries and what lessons it might hold for present food producers. The Sustainability and Education Policy Network, the second initiative, will delve into new models that improve how environmental sustainability is taught and practiced. AASHE is among the many nonprofit and higher education partners in this grant. Graduate students will work with AASHE to examine STARS data to look at the relationship between sustainability policy and practice.

CEPT U Joins Clean Energy Indo-U.S. Consortia

(India): The Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University has joined the U.S. Department of Energy's Indo-U.S. consortia on clean energy. The university’s research will focus on the energy saving potential of buildings, industry and local bodies.

U Illinois Chicago to Study Racial, Ethnic Inequalities

(U.S.): Researchers will use grants and fellowships from the university's Institute for Research on Race & Public Policy to conduct year-long studies of racial and ethnic inequalities in health, justice, economics and education. The 17 studies will conclude with reports at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.

Binghamton U Opens New Solar Panel Research Labs

With the help of $8.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, the university has launched the Center for Autonomous Solar Power and the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center. The laboratories will be home to research designed to make more efficient, durable, flexible and smaller solar panels.

EPA Awards $1 M to Institutions for Off-Grid Research

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $1 million in grants to 15 university and college teams for innovative off-grid solutions. Projects include a new process that uses spinach to capture and convert the sun’s energy to electricity, and a partnership with a local landfill to design a process that uses waste heat and drainage to grow algae for biodiesel production. The projects were selected from more than 300 university and college sustainability projects.

U Kansas, Utah Research Reveals that Nature Boosts Creativity

New research conducted by faculty from the University of Kansas and the University of Utah concludes that people from all walks of life show "startling" cognitive improvement — for instance, a 50 percent boost in creativity — after living for a few days steeped in nature. Without distractions of 21st century life including social media, electronics and cell phones, people have resources left over to be creative, imaginative and to problem solve.

New York U Leads Urban Sustainability Research Effort

A consortium of international universities and companies led by New York University will open a new applied-research institute focused on the sustainability challenges facing cities, reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article. Known as the Center for Urban Science and Progress, the institute is part of New York City's "push to inject more graduate-level scientific research into the city's economy." Steven E. Koonin, a theoretical physicist who has served as an under secretary of energy for science in the Obama administration, has been named as the director of the institute.

U Edinburgh, Kwame Nkrumah U Research Safe Drinking Water Options

(Ghana and U.K.): Researchers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Edinburgh are partnering to develop technologies for safe drinking water. Funded by the Leverhulme Royal Society Africa Award, the researchers will focus on the use of laterite, a soil-type rich in iron and aluminum, as a sorbent and ultra-filtration for physical disinfection.

Leeds Metropolitan U Launches Sustainability Research Institute

(U.K.): The Leeds Sustainability Institute will tackle the challenges of creating more sustainable places, communities and economies to help enable society and its infrastructure to become sustainable.

National Central U Debuts Renewable Energy Research Center

(China): The Advanced Laboratory of Accommodation and Research for Organic Photovoltaic will focus on the research and development of sustainable and renewable energy in Taiwan. The center received a $4.74 million grant from the National Science Council to help launch the research and development of dye-sensitized solar cells.

Shanghai Jiao Tong U Launches Sustainable Urban Planning Center

(Singapore and China): The National Research Foundation has approved a proposal for Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) to set up an urban planning research center for megacities in Singapore. Collaborating with the National University of Singapore, the center will work to improve energy recovery from waste and develop system modeling and data management tools to track and mitigate emerging environmental contaminants using test beds in Shanghai and Singapore.

U California Los Angeles Researchers Work to Develop Smarter Grid

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have started projects to develop and deploy systems to modernize the nation’s electrical grid system into one that relies on renewable energy. The "smarter, greener electric grid for the future" would enable drivers to plug their cars into a grid predominately powered by solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. The research will work toward California Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to install 12,000 megawatts of renewable power generation in the state by 2020.

U Idaho Awarded $3.5 M for Sustainable Transportation Research

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $3.5 million to the University of Idaho's National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology to lead efforts to make the nation's transportation system more sustainable. Researchers will study driverless intersection controls, eco-driving methods, eco-routing based on time and traffic, communication between vehicles to steady traffic flow, vehicle performance adjustments for efficient operation in controlled traffic systems, optimized freight routing, decision support tools for policy makers, and encouragement of driver behavior that reduces fuel consumption and increases safety.

U.S. Dept. of Energy Announces $10 M toward Solar Energy Research

As part of its SunShot Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced initiatives to drive transformational research in solar energy by engaging U.S. institutions. To advance promising utility-scale solar energy technologies, DOE will make up to $10 million available to support the development of more efficient heat transfer fluids to reduce the cost of energy from concentrating solar power systems. DOE has also opened the second round of SunShot Initiative postdoctoral research awards for applied research at institutions and other research facilities.

U Notre Dame Researchers Develop Solar Paint

A team of University of Notre Dame (IN) researchers sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy have developed a type of paint that can generate electricity upon exposure to light. The paint’s semiconductors absorb light and generate charge carriers that are tapped in photovoltaic cells. Researchers will continue to work to develop the paint into a product with competitive efficiency and stability.

Washington Universities Receive Solar Energy Research Grant

Professors at Western Washington University and the University of Washington have been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement to help fund a study to create more efficient solar panels. The team will research new ways to refine the technologies used in solar panels, as well as test less expensive and greener materials that can be used to achieve the same power generation as a standard solar cell.

U North Dakota Researchers Convert Coffee Waste into Energy

The University of North Dakota’s Environmental Research Center has partnered with bioenergy firm Wynntryst LLC and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to develop a gasification power system powered by coffee residue, plastic packaging, textiles and single-serve plastic cups. The research center has already developed small gasifier systems powered by a variety of feedstocks including forest residues, railroad tie chips, turkey litter and other biomass.

Yale U Researches Advance Solar Power Efficiency, Affordability

A team of researchers at Yale University (CT) has developed improvements in basic solar power technology that could result in lower-cost, higher-efficiency photovoltaic systems. The research has yielded a new way of guiding and channeling electrons within hybrid organic-inorganic photovoltaic devices by better controlling the structure and alignment of the materials in the system. This improves efficiency by maximizing the amount of light that is successfully converted into electricity. Support for the research was provided by the National Science Foundation.

U California System Gifted 4,584 Acres of Research Forest

The University of California system has received a land donation of 4,584 acres of forest in the Shasta and Nevada counties. The donation will allow the system to nearly double its research forests, conserving a swath of the Northern California watershed to investigate how forest ecosystems respond to climate change, increased fire risk and invasive species. Students and the public will also be able to access the areas.

SMU Research Reveals 3 M MW of Geothermal Resources in U.S.

New research from Southern Methodist University's Geothermal Laboratory (TX) has revealed significant geothermal resources across the U.S. capable of producing more than 3 million megawatts of green power, equal to 10 times the installed capacity of coal power plants today. Funded by a grant from Google.org, the research confirms and refines locations capable of supporting large-scale commercial geothermal energy production under a wide range of geologic conditions.

NY Times: Competition Hot for New Engineering Graduate School

As part of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's contest to create a new graduate school of engineering, competing universities are going all out to "out-green" one another, reports a recent New York Times article. Cornell University's (NY) proposal, which includes four acres of solar panels and 500 geothermal wells on Roosevelt Island, is emerging as a top contender as is Stanford University's (CA) proposal, which includes a marsh to filter water on the island and recycle water from storm run-off and sinks.

Clemson U Awarded $1 Mil for Sustainable Vehicle Systems Center

As part of its Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) division, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $1 million to Clemson University (SC) to create a center for sustainable vehicle systems research and education. Students will study the vehicle life cycle, energy use and emissions, reliability and manufacturing. The GATE division is focusing on the development of automotive hybrid propulsion, energy storage and lightweight materials.

Portland State U Combines Solar Panel Production with Green Roofs

With a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, researchers at Portland State University (OR) have begun looking into the effects of combining single-cell silicon photovoltaic solar panels with green roof technology. Focusing on energy production and biological issues, the research includes photovoltaic panels that are partially shading the back half of four green roof pans.

5 Universities Receive DOE Grant for Offshore Wind Study

Researchers from Indiana University Bloomington, Case Western Reserve University (OH), Arizona State University, Risoe Danish Technical University (Denmark) and Clarkson University (NY) have been awarded $700,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy to study Lake Erie wind resources. The study will perform a detailed evaluation of remote sensing technologies for wind resource estimation and will measure offshore wind and turbulence to develop best practices for instrumentation operations.

U Iowa Wins NSF Grant for Sustainability Implementation Study

An associate professor in the University of Iowa's School of Urban and Regional Planning has been awarded a three-year, $389,987 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the hurdles that stand in the way of local sustainability initiatives and how communities can address the snags. Because of New Zealand's success in sustainable local governance, planning and development agencies in randomly selected, mid-sized cities in the country will be compared with similarly selected agencies and cities in the U.S.

NSF Invests $18.5 toward Urban Water Engineering Research Center

With an investment of $18.5 million over five years, the National Science Foundation has selected a multi-university team from New Mexico State University, Stanford University (CA), Colorado School of Mines and the University of California, Berkeley to implement an Urban Water Engineering Research Center. With the aim of reinventing America's water infrastructure, the center's research will combine fundamental investigations and applied research in engineered systems, natural systems and urban water management.

U New Hampshire, China Partner to Study Agriculture and Climate

The University of New Hampshire has partnered with the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences for a project that could yield research valuable to understanding the environmental impact of large scale agricultural projection against the backdrop of global climate change. The new CAAS-UNH Joint Laboratory for Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems Research will conduct academic exchanges and cooperate in science and technology research. Graduate students and faculty will perform research and work together on problems related to better understanding the biogeochemistry of agricultural settings during climate change.

RIT Researcher Recognized for Sustainability Innovation

The research of an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) to reduce the footprint of the information and communication technology industry was recently honored with the AT&T Technology and Environment Award. The $25,000 award will go toward developing a combined research and curriculum initiative that explores the sustainable design of information and communication technology products. Now in its 15th year, the AT&T award recognizes university and college research focused on how information and communications technology affects the environment. It is intended to stimulate research surrounding environmental issues, engineering, science and other disciplines.

Canadian Research Teams to Study Climate Change Adaptation

Five teams made up of Canadian institutions and universities in developing countries will participate in the International Research Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (IRIACC). Each team will receive $2.5 million over five years to study how best to protect people, communities and vital economic sectors, like agriculture and tourism, that are most at risk from the effects of climate change. Two teams will focus specifically on vulnerable indigenous populations. Together, the research projects, which will take place in Canada and in developing countries across four continents, aim to address how to anticipate, manage and reduce climate risk vulnerability through adaptation.

U Texas Conducts Solar Panel Research

A University of Texas mechanical engineering research team will study the output of three different types of solar panels from three different manufacturers under the same conditions. Research on the new solar panels will show how they respond to different temperatures, partial dirtiness and aging. The project is being funded by a $195,000 grant from federal funds.

Chron of Higher Ed: Energy, Water Dominate Int'l Research

Water and energy took center stage as the top research topics discussed at the International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education in April, according to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) is concentrating its research on energy, food, and water and believes that universities around the world should tackle the same problems as geography and climate lead to different solutions based on local needs. Energy is also leading the research agenda at the University of Groningen (Netherlands).

Nanyang Technical U to Create New Solar and Clean Energy Center

Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) has announced plans to invest close to $3 million over three years in a new research center that will pioneer the development of solar cells that are expected to be highly efficient, cheaper and easier to manufacture. The center will also develop new systems to harvest solar energy. The center will operate jointly with the university’s School of Materials Science and Engineering and School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

Arizona State U Research: Employers Favor Sustainability Skills

Recent research from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows that a considerable percentage of employers are giving positive weight to job candidates with sustainability skills. The same research indicated that job applicants also need professional training in existing fields to push them over the top in the hiring process. An analysis of about 100 job postings related to sustainability, interviews with several corporate sustainability managers, and a survey of about 200 managers and executives from small, medium and large companies revealed that 65 percent of small company respondents said they would consider a sustainability concentration when making a hiring decision; 87 percent of the large firm respondents agreed; and 97.5 percent of the large firm executives said they valued the concentration. Participants said that corporate social responsibility, sustainability strategy, measuring sustainability, sustainability-related product and process improvement, and environmental and health policy as it relates to business should be taught to all managers and executives.

U British Columbia Researches How to Make Green Roofs Greener

A student and professor at the University of British Columbia have partnered to research ways to make green roofs even more environmentally friendly by using construction waste. The team is researching how to recycle waste building materials to form the base layers of a green roof. Currently, materials for the base layers are made out of plastic and it takes 25 years to compensate for the environmental damage caused from making the plastics contained in the roof laying material. The team is monitoring several green roof plant beds on campus that were donated and comparing the results of the manufactured material against a green roof constructed using discarded, crushed concrete as drainage material. The progress and results of the experiment will be monitored for a full year.

Arizona State U Engineers Work to Advance Solar Power

From predicting the performance of various kinds of photovoltaic cells to testing ideas for a solar thermal collector, engineers at Arizona State University are conducting material, electrical and mechanical engineering research to develop prototypes for the next generations of high-efficiency photovoltaic technologies. The university is also delving into the economic, regulatory, manufacturing, public policy and public utility aspects of solar power including educating students to become the future entrepreneurs, business leaders and policy experts of alternative energy systems.

Confederation College Announces New Biomass Research Center

Confederation College (ON) has announced plans to build a new biomass energy research center to provide students and researchers with state-of-the-art labs to gain hands-on training in renewable fuel technologies. The biomass renewable energy project will use wood waste that has no other commercial value. Ontario has invested $4.2 million in the research center as part of the government’s long-term capital plan.

U Hawai'i Manoa Partners for Research Agreement to Treat Grease

The University of Hawai’i at Manoa has partnered with Pacific Biodiesel Inc. to find pathways for treatment of waste-trap grease from restaurants. The research agreement is an outgrowth of a Water, Energy and Soil Sustainability research effort at the university. Waste-trap grease is a waste stream that is heavy in fats, oils and grease that cannot be directly discharged into main sewer lines.

Pennsylvania State U Directs Northeast Food Insecurity Study

Faculty in Pennsylvania State University's College of Agricultural Sciences will direct a new $5 million project to study whether greater reliance on regionally produced foods could improve food access and affordability for disadvantaged communities. Part of a national initiative to reduce food insecurity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded project, "Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast with Regional Food Systems," brings together researchers, educators, entrepreneurs and community leaders from a 12-state region to shed light on how the food system can better serve disadvantaged communities, farmers and others in the food supply chain across the nation. Other participating institutions include Columbia University (NY), Cornell University (NY), Delaware State University, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (MD), Tufts University (MA), University of Vermont and West Virginia State University.

U Buffalo Creates Framework for Modeling Sustainable Agriculture

The State University of New York's University at Buffalo researchers have begun assessing the City of Buffalo’s capacity for sustainable agriculture. A university geographer has developed a conceptual model in the form of a map that shows how different elements within Buffalo’s urban food movement relate to one another. The map shows feedback involving land use, opportunities for urban agriculture in vacant lots, how urban agriculture can increase familiarity with local food, and how that familiarity can result in greater support for the cultivation of vacant lots into urban farms. The map addresses affordability, public health, community resilience, local economy support and the potential adoption of a “green code.”

U Kansas Awarded USDA Grant for Green Cleaning Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a research team at the University of Kansas a $5.6 million grant to find ways to green many household products. The research will look to replace petroleum-based chemicals used in products like plastics and laundry detergents with biomass products like nonfood crops and agriculture leftovers.

Michigan State U Receives $2.9 Million for Biofuel Research

Michigan State University has received $2.9 million in federal grants for biofuel research. University professors will lead three research projects on campus that will focus on topics including greenhouse gas emissions associated with biomass production, ways to use byproducts from the production of biofuel, and pests that affect switchgrass, a plant used to produce biofuels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded five-year grants to 27 universities, one college and two USDA research arms for sustainable bioenergy research.

U Calgary Researchers to Convert Sewage into Power

The University of Calgary's (AB) Schulich School of Engineering has received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant to pursue a global health and development research project. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the grant funds scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how to solve persistent global health and development challenges. The engineering school will look at developing technology that will turn human excrement into a range of useful products such as methane gas, fertilizer, water, heat and electricity. Their idea is to design small residential units much like portable toilets but with built-in reaction chambers. Chemical and bacterial reactions would convert fecal matter and urine into solids for use as agricultural fertilizer and gases – mostly methane – that could be burned to make electricity. Pure water would be a byproduct.

Arizona State U Researchers Work to Better Harness Solar Energy

Graduate students at Arizona State University have published a research paper in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy revealing that solar panels only use a fraction of the energy they receive to generate energy while the rest of it emits heat. The researchers developed solar thermal collectors that power turbines to generate steam in order to more completely harness the energy received.