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ASU students to help create 'sustainability park'


<p>The town of Clarkdale, Ariz., is benefitting from the work of students participating in the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.<br /><br />The program enables students to use the basic engineering skills they’re learning in the classroom to help bring community improvement endeavors to fruition.<br /><br />EPICS teams are working with town officials to develop Clarkdale Sustainability Park. Among initial plans for the park are a wetlands recharge project and a project to convert waste to energy.</p>

Article Source: Verde Independent
Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-965-8122

Who would benefit most from solar energy?


November 29, 2010

Americans have become more and more concerned with the idea of using cleaner energy sources and creating new jobs through the use of solar energy. A new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University takes a closer look at which states might benefit the most both from generating solar energy and from consuming that energy. These are believed to be the first state rankings of their kind.

“We see a growing trend by states to increase the importance of renewable electricity generation,” says assistant research professor Matthew Croucher, who authored the report. “However, the biggest take-away from this study is that if the U.S. is serious about maximizing the societal benefits of solar generation, then we need to look at the national level at how different states can serve not only their own needs, but also those of other states with less ability to create electricity using solar technologies.” Download Full Image

The study was just published in The Electricity Journal. It ranks states based on several criteria. To find out where we should ideally create solar energy for the country, Croucher looked specifically at solar insolation, whether a considerable amount of energy can be generated in each state, as well as the cost of doing so there.

The Top 10 states that would benefit from solar deployment through generating and exporting energy to other states are:

1. Arizona
2. Colorado
3. Georgia
4. Texas
5. Hawaii
6. Arkansas
7. Wyoming
8. Alabama (tie)
8. Missouri (tie)
10. California

Croucher explains, “In terms of potential cost and output efficiency, Arizona has a significant amount of solar potential, but the state, like most other states, is currently constrained by its transmission system, which was created with mainly fossil fuels in mind. If Arizona is going to maximize the benefits from its competitive advantage in solar generation, it will need to figure out how to successfully export significant quantities to other states, which may require investing in infrastructure.”

According to the study, the top states for solar energy consumption are Hawaii, Delaware, Alaska, Wisconsin, Maryland and Ohio. This list takes into account the current carbon emissions from electricity in each state and whether electricity prices are high there. However, it doesn’t make much sense for states like Delaware and Wisconsin to try to generate their own solar energy. Croucher says that’s why it’s so important to consider both the generation and consumption lists together.

“If we want to maximize the societal benefits from solar generation, it should be deployed in the most cost-effective states and sold to states that have relatively high electricity prices and/or a relatively high carbon content in their current generation mix,” explains Croucher.

Traditionally, most states have simply looked at using solar energy for their own benefit. Croucher also considered this using five criteria: solar insolation, how many jobs would be created, the cost to deploy, the carbon emissions from electricity in the state now, and whether electricity prices are currently high in the area.

The Top 11 states that would benefit from solar deployment solely for purposes of self-sufficiency are:

1. Hawaii
2. New Mexico
3. Colorado
4. Missouri
5. Georgia
6. Texas
7. Arkansas
8. Alabama (tie)
8. Mississippi (tie)
10. Oklahoma (tie)
10. Wisconsin (tie)

Croucher says, “Hawaii is the most desirable location for solar deployment. Right now, it has the highest cost of electricity, and the electricity has a relatively high carbon content. It also has a high level of solar insolation and faces a relatively cheap cost of deployment.”

The full study, including the rankings of all 50 states, can be found at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/10406190">http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/10406190">http://www.scienc.... It is called the “Optimal Deployment of Solar Index.”

Putting chemical power to the test


November 1, 2010

ASU engineering students vying against formidable competition in national contest

A team of Arizona State University engineering majors is gearing up for a national student competition to design a vehicle powered by alternative fuels. Download Full Image

The Chem-E-Car competition organized by American Institute of Chemical Engineers will take place Nov. 6-7, in Salt Lake City. ASU’s team will go up against student engineering teams from about 30 other universities, including Stanford, Cornell, and Texas A&M.

ASU’s team members are chemical engineering undergraduates Jacob Lenzi, Luis Moya, Tara Smith, Kyle Foster, Alison Davis, Brian Anderson, Andrew Chelsy, Mike Rosauri, and mechanical engineering undergraduate Mark Garrison.

In the Chem-E-Car Rocky Mountain Regional competition last spring at the University of New Mexico, they took first place for most the creative vehicle design, first place in the project poster presentation, and third place overall.

The contest requires teams to design and construct chemically powered shoebox-sized vehicles that produce a chemical reaction to start and stop the vehicles. Teams are told only hours before the start of competition about the distance their cars must travel and the weight of cargo that each vehicle must carry.

Since the regional competition, the team has made some refinements to their vehicle.  Because the base plate cracked during the regional competition, they had to machine another plate from Plexiglas, using a polycarbonate to prevent another break.

Team members are also testing different metals to use in their vehicle’s reaction vessel.  In the regional contest, they used aluminum because of its heat-transference qualities. But it still experienced performance problems, so they’re considering use of copper.

What students learn through the competition can be applied in large-scale engineering efforts, Moya says.

Techniques used to build such vehicles can also be used by power plants.  “If you are generating heat,   you are already emitting some gases, and if you can recover some of that excess heat and create electricity, then you could use that to benefit a power company.  That would be good for a community,” Moya says.

The team hand-built its car in a mechanical engineering machine shop, with assistance from Fred Pena, a research lab manager in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.

Davis says the hands-on approach provides a good learning experience. “We built this car from scratch, so we had to go to the machine shop on campus and learn how to use the machine to put everything together.  As chemical engineers, we’ve never done that before,” she says.

Moya says the competition is intense, “but it’s a lot of fun.”

The team has received support from the USG Corp., ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and several local companies, including Schlumberger, Abbie Gregg Inc., Air Products and Salt River Project utility company.

Written by Amy Lukau

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-965-8122

Energy innovation forum details needs for change


October 21, 2010

A daylong forum that took place Oct. 18 at SkySong highlighted the needs for change in how the country, and large research organizations, do business. The focus of the meeting, the Southwest Energy Innovation Forum, was on the energy sector and how new and renewable energy technologies can reform that sector.

It drew about 250 participants from industry, government and academia, and featured panel discussions on new technologies, such as advanced fuels, solar photovoltaics and energy storage. But it also was about the infrastructure changes needed to bring the technologies to market quickly. To that end, the discussion was about the need to fast-track these technologies so as to meet the needs of an increasingly energy-hungry world throttled by population and pollution concerns. Download Full Image

“The next 20 years are critical if we, as a country, want to get ahead of the curve,” said Arun Majumdar, director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy. Majumdar added that what is needed is compression of about 100 years of technological advances into the next 20 years. 

Going down a list of identified needs – which included solar electric at $1 per watt fully installed, a digital smart grid to deliver power, transportation fuels from sunlight, and car batteries with three times the power at one-fourth the cost of current technology – Majumdar said growing future economies without exponentially increasing carbon dioxide “is a great opportunity.” It is why DOE began ARPA-E. Patterned after a U.S. defense department agency that has pushed all types of new technologies in unexpected ways, ARPA-E is geared towards high-risk, high-reward advances that have the potential to change the way the nation generates and consumes energy. 

Majumdar added that if we don’t meet this need head on, then we will be watching from the sidelines as the most lucrative future market passes us by.

Speed also was on the mind of ASU President Michael Crow. He talked about the speed of discovery, the speed of interaction, the speed of institutional transformation and the speed of updating the public/private partnerships that make up the America model. 

Explaining that too often we get trapped in doing business as usual, Crow said today’s world demands a different tack.

“In our case, traditional structure got us into this predicament. Why hold on to it,” he asked. “All traditions need to be set aside, and you have to pick out the parts you need and move on.”

As an example, Crow talked about the United States devoting one of its national laboratories to a single mission and funding it at current levels to achieve that mission. This would be very different from today’s model of national laboratories advancing a variety of technologies for multiple purposes.

Rick Shangraw, ASU senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development, talked specifically about changing the way universities address technology transfer. Shangraw ran down a list of 10 things he thinks should be changed, including treating the technology transfer office as a service to faculty, changing the reward systems of universities to include patents and business development when considering tenure; working with other universities to co-market inventions, and taking a technology and wrapping around it what is needed to make it a useful product.

He added that tech transfer offices need to be flexible and speedy, to meet the needs of faculty and changing markets.

“Taking up to 36 months to close a deal is not acceptable,” he said.

Nick Donofrio, a former IBM executive and a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation added: “Innovation is about seeing, creating and capturing value where others do not see, create or capture value.” He added that you need to do that quickly.

“Time is not our friend,” he said.

The Southwest Energy Innovation Forum was the third of three regional meetings on how to drive clean energy innovation and propel economic development and job creation. It was sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and ASU.

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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ASU In the News

Brewer announces $2 million investment in algae fuels research


<p>A new energy research center will be established at ASU's Polytechnic campus with the hope that Arizona will become a global leader in algae fuel research and production.</p>

Article Source: AZCentral

Student's endless curiosity finds an outlet at ASU


September 8, 2010

In a car packed with five children, Susanna Young’s father patiently answered her many questions about the gaunt wind turbines lining the hills as they drove across the desert near Palm Springs, Calif.

It was the beginning of her fascination with the powerful energy stored in moving water, wind and the sun, an interest she has pursued at ASU. Young is a mechanical engineering undergraduate doing research she hopes will lead to better computer simulations of wind energy. Download Full Image

A childhood of curiosity and “endless questions” led her to spend hours perched on the roof of an ASU parking structure, analyzing an array of solar panels over an entire semester. She found that using a mechanical tracking system increased energy output.

She’s leading a team of engineering students to design a village for Malawi, Africa, using the retired but durable shipping containers lying idle in ports all over the world. As part of ASU’s Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program, her team is using engineering technology to create shelter, clean water and health care facilities.

“The idea is to create a village out of these containers where the Malawians, particularly disabled people and women, will receive quality health care and learn vocational skills such as making wind turbines out of local materials,” says Young.

“ASU provides some of the most amazing opportunities. By participating in clubs, study abroad trips, research and excellent curriculum, I have met so many people and formed lasting bonds and connections that I don’t think would be possible otherwise.”

Growing up in Ahwatukee, Young and her siblings were home-schooled by parents who encouraged them to strive for excellence. She chose ASU after doing some research and learning that the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering were ranked in the top 50 in the United States. She was also attracted by Barrett, the Honors College.

She took summer study abroad in France through Barrett, and she has been active in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative and in the student section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She carries a 4.0 GPA and enjoys her classes so much that she has a hard time deciding which have been her favorites.

“I have absolutely loved all of my engineering classes, thermofluids and principles of mechanical design in particular. But my favorite class was my honors Human Event class. I love to read and discuss ideas and viewpoints with other people, and the class gave me the opportunity to do this in both a respectful and intelligent environment. I liked that Dr. Humphrey urged his students to think for themselves and form their own opinions.”

Young received the award as the most outstanding student in EPICS last year. She plans to graduate from ASU with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fluid dynamics, and then she may pursue her doctorate at Cornell, MIT or Purdue. She’s still fascinated with wind turbines.

“Susanna has an enthusiasm for making the world a better place, and the talent to back it up,” says Richard Filley, director of EPICS. “She’s an outstanding student, very refreshing. It’s exciting to watch her team work, to see these kinds of things happen.”

Read">http://entrepreneurship.asu.edu/newsletter/2010/09/14/student-social-ent... more about EPICS on the Entrepreneurs at ASU website.

http://entrepreneurship.asu.edu/newsletter/2010/09/14/student-social-ent...

Is Arizona poised to take the solar lead?


July 13, 2010

Is Arizona prepared to take the lead in the shift to renewable energy, using its greatest natural resource – the sun? A major research effort led by Arizona State University and initially funded through a grant from Science Foundation Arizona is trying to answer that question by analyzing how best to use solar and other sustainable energy throughout the state.

A top official from the U.S. Department of Energy, Undersecretary Kristina Johnson, recently visited the project, and other VIPs are coming soon. The hope is that the Az SMART project will provide an example for other states to follow in President Obama’s plan to reduce emissions, reduce foreign oil dependence and create jobs in a clean technology economy. The project includes tools to benefit homeowners, businesses and the leaders who need to make informed decisions about which power-generation methods to use and where to locate new facilities, such as solar fields. Download Full Image

“Most of the talk about solar energy has focused on how to make it more efficient and technically viable,” said professor Tim James, director of research and consulting at the L. William Seidman Research Institute at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business, who is coordinating work by economists, engineers and others on this project. “There’s been little comprehensive thought about how to put solar and other renewable energy into place to help the economy. Things like state permits, tax credits and other incentives need to be carefully considered, along with technical feasibility and potential locations, so we can all get the most bang for our buck.”

Az SMART stands for Arizona Solar Market Analysis and Research Tool. Part of the effort is aimed at drawing solar and other renewable energy companies to Arizona to benefit the state’s economy. Another part focuses on interactive decision-making tools that can be used by everyone from the governor to individual homeowners for information and guidance.

These tools will include a website where homeowners and business owners can fill in information about their needs and costs, and find out whether solar energy would be a good choice for them. They also include aids for state policymakers and business leaders who decide whether to shift the types of energy utilized across the state, looking at issues like environmental impact and job creation.

“It’s a huge enterprise essentially mapping out the state in its entirety and determining the effects of something like replacing a coal plant as it comes to the end of its useful life with enough renewable energy,” James said. “Obviously, it’s beneficial for our state’s energy security to use solar, wind and other energy sources readily available here, instead of importing fossil fuels. However, we have to determine which types of energy, including existing sources, make the most sense in different areas of the state to ensure reliable, cost-efficient power for everyone.”

Az SMART research has already identified large areas that would be appropriate for solar and alternative energy facilities, building on the number of potential sites identified by the federal Bureau of Land Management. These additional locations could possibly provide enough power to supply the entire western United States and bring in significant revenue to Arizona.

"The integration of geographic information systems (GIS), technology, grid operations and economic data into one interactive visual decision tool will be invaluable in helping energy decision-makers transform Arizona's energy infrastructure to one that is cleaner, more resilient and economically viable,” said William C. Harris, president and chief executive officer of Science Foundation Arizona. "We are proud to have recognized the need and originated support for this effort, which is focused on critical concepts, such as how to integrate the new technology into the state’s existing power grid.”

Researchers at ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering are looking at the technical side of the shift to renewable energy, including how to achieve “plugging” the new technology into the state’s power grid.

Professor Vijay Vittal, the Ira A. Fulton Chair Professor at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, explained, “The primary focus of this analysis is to ascertain the viability of the transmission grid with increased penetration of solar resources and to also determine the needed transmission reinforcement to achieve the required reliability performance.”

ASU’s Decision Theater, within the Global Institute of Sustainability, is being utilized to test out various scenarios, using floor-to-ceiling video screens and other 360-degree mechanisms designed to immerse the participants in decision-making exercises. The Decision Theater has spearheaded the complex solar siting and integration aspects of Az SMART.

“Where we actually place our renewable energy systems has huge implications for the success of sustainable energy deployment in Arizona and beyond,” said George Basile, School of Sustainability professor and Decision Theater executive director.

Az SMART is funded by several partners, including APS, BrightSource Energy, Salt River Project, Science Foundation Arizona, Tucson Electric Power, ViaSol Energy Solutions and software maker CreateASoft, Inc. More funding sources are actively being sought. The three-year project is aimed at both economic development and maximizing public education and information about the shift to renewable energy.

“As current energy policy moves towards more renewable energy it is important to understand the benefits, challenges and opportunities associated with this change in direction,” said Phil Smithers, manager of renewable energy technical services at APS. “The ability to address these challenges in a comprehensive and coordinated forum will be very beneficial to stakeholders and decision-makers moving forward.”

“While the benefits of harnessing Arizona’s vast solar resource can be enormous, significant issues remain about how to best integrate this resource into a large and complex electric grid,” said SRP senior research engineer Don Pelley. “Through our Az SMART collaboration with other knowledgeable scientists, economists and engineers, we are confident we can begin to find the solutions to these challenges.”

Arizona State University has demonstrated a high commitment to sustainability through efforts such as creation of the first School of Sustainability in the nation and the installation of large solar fields on the roofs of several campus parking structures. The Princeton Review recently named ASU one of the “greenest” universities in the country.

Engineering students receive opportunity to do top-flight research


July 6, 2010

Electrical engineering majors Christina Clancey-Rivera and Jeremy Wendte are among 21 ASU students who recently earned an opportunity to study abroad with support from a prestigious Fulbright grant.

The Fulbright grants are part of an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and designed to promote understanding between U.S. citizens and people from other countries. Download Full Image

Students are chosen to participate based on academic merit and leadership potential. They get opportunities to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to common international challenges.

Clancey-Rivera earned her undergraduate engineering degree in May from the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Wendte is a senior in the school.

Clancy-Rivera plans to travel to the University of Alcala in Spain in September to begin research on electrical energy generation systems known as microgrids, a promising new technology for increasing the use of renewable energy sources.

Wendte will go to Bangladesh for most of 2011 to study of the role of solar electrification in the southern Asian country. He’ll work with faculty at Independent University Bangladesh to analyze the impacts of the use photovoltaic power.

Clancey-Rivera’s research will be guided by Emilio José Bueno Peña, a leading energy researcher. He operates the Microgrid Laboratory at Power Electronics and Renewable Energy Systems Research Laboratory at the University of Alcala, which has one of the world’s few microgrid test beds for renewable energy sources.

She will work on the detection of “islanding conditions” in electrical microgrids.

“Microgrids must be capable of controlling themselves or shutting themselves out of a power grid in response to power failures, short circuits, frequency drops or any other disturbances. This capability is also called islanding,” she said.

“Efficient islanding is critical to microgrids sourced by renewable energy sources, due to the intermittent nature of most of these resources,” she said. “My project will focus on these stability issues in the microgrids, one of the weaknesses of the system.”

Clancey has been admitted to the electrical engineering master’s degree program at ASU. She’ll begin graduate studies in Spain.

“What I learn in Spain will help me bring a new perspective to way microgrids are being developed in the United States,” Rivera said.

She is also “looking forward to becoming immersed in the culture of the city and the country.”

Wendte’s research will involve analyzing the distribution, administration, usage and sustainability of photovoltaic systems and programs in Bangladesh. 

Few studies have covered the full array of issues revolving around the the implementation of solar electric power as an alternative energy source, Wendte says. His study will explore the economic, social and technological impacts of developing a photovoltaic power system in a developing nation.

“The Fulbright grant gives me the opportunity for in-depth, first-hand experience in the direct application of electrical engineering to a sustainable form of development, as well as enabling me to perform research in the field,” Wendte said.

“I hope this study, even in a small fashion, will help point to a more effective method of improving access to affordable, efficient photovoltaic systems,” he said.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-965-8122

Students will put 'chem-car' to national test


June 7, 2010

A team of ASU students will showcase their technological skills in a national competition organized by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, one of the world’s leading professional engineering organizations.

They’ll take part in the National Chem-E-Car Competition during the institute’s annual student conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 6 and 7. Download Full Image

The team earned its way to the national competition by finishing in third place overall this spring in the institute’s Rocky Mountain Region Chem-E-Car Competition at the University of New Mexico.

The contest requires teams to design and construct chemically powered shoebox-sized vehicles that produce a chemical reaction to start and stop the vehicles. Teams are told only hours before the start of competition about the distance their cars must travel and the amount of cargo that each vehicle will carry.

Representing ASU will be chemical engineering undergraduates Jacob Lenzi, Luis Moya, Tara Smith, Kyle Foster, Alison Davis, Brian Anderson, Andrew Chelsy, Mike Rosauri, and mechanical engineering undergraduate Mark Garrison.

At the regional event, they took first place for most creative vehicle design and first place in the project poster presentation part of the competition.

Engineering assistant professor Bryan Vogt, faculty adviser to the ASU student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, explains that the team’s performance is an exceptional accomplishment.

Many successful teams work from previous models as a starting point for car design, Vogt says. The ASU team didn’t have a previously designed car from which to start, so “the car that qualified for nationals was built fully from scratch,” he says.

“Qualifying for the National Chem-E-Car Competition is very exciting for the entire team,” says second-year competitor Smith. “Our success in the regional competition validated the tremendous amount of hard work we put in over the spring semester. The car consumed about eight hours a week of my life for the entire school year, so it feels really good that it has performed so well,” says Smith.

The team hand built the car in a mechanical engineering machine shop, with assistance from Fred Pena, a research lab manager in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, a part of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Students learned to advanced equipment and about designing problem-solving methods. They constructed three “chem-cars” before they were satisfied they had a vehicle ready for competition.

“It’s been a lot of work, but the hands- on experience has been priceless,” says Smith. “It really seals in our memories what we have been learning in class, and gives us a creative outlet.”  

The team’s vehicle runs through the use of thermal junctions that produce electricity by creating a heat transfer through the junctions. The team created a 110 Celsius temperature difference by using dry ice in an ethanol bath on one side, and the dissociation of sulfuric acid in water on the other.

“The Chem-E-Car’s success is proof of the value of the education I received in engineering at ASU. I’ve learned a lot by building the car,” Smith says.

“These types of projects provide important opportunities for hands-on experiences outside the classroom,” says Kyle Squires, director of the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy. “That this team has done so well without starting from a previously designed vehicle speaks highly of their hard work and dedication. We’re looking forward to seeing them compete in the finals.”

The team received support from the USG Corp., the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and several local companies, including Schlumberger, Abbie Gregg Inc., Air Products and Salt River Project.

Written by Jessica Graham

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-965-8122

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