Day: April 24, 2013

Stunning Laser Scans That Could Help Us Reuse Aging Buildings Better

Read the full story in Atlantic Cites.

The earliest photographs of buildings took minutes to capture, and they show grainy scenes in long exposure of light as it reflected off walls and windows. In retrospect, those images have a mysterious quality that’s strikingly similar to how architecture can be portrayed today with a 3D scanner.

Permeable pavements could cool cities and help prevent flooding

Read the full story at EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

The dark surfaces of city roads can reach high temperatures in summer. What’s more, run-off from hard urban streets can lead to flash flooding in heavy rain. Now a team from the US has trialled materials for pavements that are both more reflective and more permeable, enabling rainwater to percolate into the ground beneath. Indeed, evaporation of water from such surfaces could even assist with cooling…

Li and colleagues reported their study in Environmental Research Letters (ERL) , as part of the ERL Focus on Environmental Assessments in the Built Environment.

 

Streams stressed by pharmaceutical pollution

Read the full story on EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

Pharmaceuticals commonly found in the environment are disrupting streams, with unknown impacts on aquatic life and water quality. So reports a new Ecological Applications paper, which highlights the ecological cost of pharmaceutical waste and the need for more research into environmental impacts.

Reducing Environmental Impact Of Organic Synthesis

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

When Bruce H. Lipshutz said he had a goal to help the synthetic organic chemistry community get organic solvents out of organic reactions, he wasn’t kidding. The University of California, Santa Barbara, chemistry professor had been quizzing process chemists in industry about the most common reactions they use and what they would like to do to improve the cost and environmental profiles of the processes—that is, how to make them greener and more sustainable. One of the biggest obstacles, they said, was organic solvents.

That bit of information led Lipshutz and his research group to develop a class of low-cost designer surfactants. These amphiphilic molecules form nanomicelles, which act as reaction compartments. They enable common transition-metal-catalyzed organic reactions to run in water at production scale at room temperature. For his efforts, Lipshutz received a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2011.

National Library of Energy beta: A New Search Engine Facilitating Access to DOE Info

The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) has launched the National Library of Energy (NLE), a virtual library and open government resource to advance energy literacy, innovation and security.

The NLE search feature provides one-stop, easy access to information about DOE and its work in four broad mission areas – science and R&D results; energy and technology for industry and homeowners; energy market information and analysis; and nuclear security and environmental management.

Accessible on the OSTI home page, the NLE also is a “featured search and developer tool” on the recently published new DOE resource hub for open energy data. A DOE Blog, “Welcome to Energy.gov/Data,” mentions the NLE.

“The National Library of Energy reflects the depth and breadth of what DOE does and how it contributes to the Nation in many vital ways,” said OSTI Director Walter L. Warnick. “DOE leads U.S. efforts in finding new, cleaner and more efficient sources of energy; in exploring the science of energy; in enhancing nuclear security; and in generating accurate and reliable energy statistics and forecasts. The NLE serves as an easy-to-use, transparent platform befitting DOE’s prominence in promoting national energy security by enabling unprecedented search and retrieval of DOE’s publicly accessible energy expertise.”

The NLE is a new search tool designed to make it easier for American citizens to access information about the Department from across the DOE complex nationwide, without knowing DOE’s organizational structure. The NLE virtually integrates information from Energy.gov (the DOE website) and all DOE program offices, national laboratories and other facilities.

The NLE makes it possible to search all this information via a single search box. Using federated search and indexing technology, the NLE retrieves relevance-ranked individual site results from 17 distributed DOE databases and 82 websites, or 20 million searchable pages, with hyperlinks to the databases/pages where the original content can be viewed. In this way, the NLE preserves the identity of organizations hosting information and their ownership – and the integrity of – the information.

The NLE complements the Energy.gov search feature by reaching deeper and typically returning more complex information from sources such as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Energy Information Administration and the 17 DOE national laboratories. By offering a single search point, the NLE will help drive additional traffic to organizational websites’ individual databases.

The NLE concept was highlighted as a DOE transparency initiative in the 2010 and 2012 DOE Open Government Plans. The NLE will make all DOE web content and databases accessible, independent of content management system. The NLE’s resources will be kept current, with each component updated regularly. On a periodic basis, additional databases and searchable website content will be added.

OSTI, within the DOE Office of Science, is the DOE office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored R&D results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information please visit the Office of Science website.

IL Wind for Schools Selects Six Districts for 2013-14 Partners

The Illinois Wind for Schools (ILWFS) program has selected the schools that will participate during the 2013-2014 school year.

ILFWS is made possible through Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) grant funding and is sponsored through a partnership with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University, the WIU College of Business and Technology, the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University and the Illinois State University College of Education.

Through an application process, six school districts were selected as 2013-2014 ILWFS partner schools, including:

  • Freeport School District #145, Stephenson County;
  • Collinsville Community Unit School District #10, Madison County;
  • Jasper County Community School District #1, Jasper County;
  • Champaign Community Unit School District #4, Champaign County;
  • Prairieview-Odgen Community Consolidation School District #197, Champaign County; and
  • Webber Township High School District #204, Jefferson County.

According to IIRA Wind Energy Program Coordinator Jolene Willis, the program integrates wind energy topics into the classroom, offering curriculum-development resources, teacher professional development, on-site technical assistance and instructional equipment to middle school and high school teachers throughout Illinois. Willis said the ILWFS program addresses specific Illinois Learning Standards goals in mathematics, including estimation and measurement, as well as data analysis and probability and it encompasses specific science goals, which include inquiry and design; concepts and principles; and science, technology and society.

“Participating teachers will be required to attend the on-site workshop and maintain communication with ILWFS staff, providing evaluation and feedback of the lab activities, curriculum and equipment throughout the 2013-2014 school year.”

The ILWFS program will begin this summer with a teacher workshop held on site at each partner school for all participating teachers. The program also provides curricula and lesson plans, equipment for hands-on activities and basic supplies at no cost. Continuing professional development units (CPDUs) will be offered to all teacher training sessions required of program participants, as well. Willis noted the ILWFS team will present a background of the energy and wind energy industries, wind energy fundamental principles and curriculum and methods used to integrate energy and wind energy materials into the classroom.

Prairieview-Odgen Community Consolidation School District #197 Superintendent Vic White said he is honored that his district was selected by the ILWFS program as a partner school.

“The training being offered to our teachers will prepare them to effectively instruct Prairieview-Ogden students,” White said. “Incorporation of this curriculum, hands-on activities and equipment and the on-site 50kW Endurance Wind Turbine installed at South Elementary will help us achieve our goal of educating the next generation about wind energy.”

Topics of the summer workshop will include fundamentals of wind energy, principles of wind turbine operation and ideas for integrating wind energy into the existing curriculum. In addition, participating schools will receive a classroom set of experimental model wind turbines, equipment with which to build and test the model wind turbines, a pack of experimental weather balloons, a model wind tunnel and customized lab activities and a comprehensive wind energy curriculum.

The wind energy curriculum includes lesson plans in five distinct areas: energy and electricity; wind and weather; turbines and engineering; environmental considerations; and economics.

In Fall 2013, ILWFS staff will install scientific weather instrumentation on the school grounds at each partner school. Teachers and students will then be able to easily access data collected by the weather instrumentation using any internet connection. Wind energy lessons will be integrated into the existing curriculum throughout the school year and the program will conclude in spring 2014.

Matt Aldeman, senior energy analyst for the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University said that the program’s purpose is to engage Illinois school teachers and students in energy education, specifically targeting wind energy.

“We hope to educate students with the knowledge of wind energy principles, to position the next generation of career and technical professionals to enter the growing U.S. wind industry. We will also be able to provide technical assistance to Illinois school administrators on renewable energy integration in school facilities.”

In addition to working with the six partner schools, the ILWFS program will conduct a free summer workshop for any Illinois middle school or high school educator interested in incorporating wind energy topics into his or her curriculum.

For more information, contact Willis at (309) 298-2835 or Aldeman at (309) 438-1440.

Learn more about Illinois Wind for Schools at www.ilwfs.org.