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ASU named No. 1 producer of solar power among campuses nationwide

An April 20 article from Energy Digital featured the top 10 campuses in the nation for solar energy production, with Arizona State University coming in at No. 1.

ASU has a comprehensive solar program that extends to all four campus locations and the ASU Research Park. A grand total of 89 solar systems produce 24.1 MW of solar energy, which represents nearly 50 percent of ASU's current daytime peak load. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration this is enough solar to power 3,366 Arizona homes.

There is a variety of additional benefits that come from the solar installations around the university, including shaded parking, building heat-load reduction, extended life of roofs that have shade, living lab for academics and research and sustainability initiatives, as well as avoiding 23,267 metric tons of carbon dioxide output; roughly the same as the annual emissions of 4,804 passenger vehicles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s been incremental, but ASU is the nation’s top higher-education institution with solar installed by quite a bit,” the article stated.

Article Source: Energy Digital
Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

GreenBiz U returns to ASU for 2015 Sustainability Solutions Festival

February 12, 2015

The power of global business leaders discussing the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in sustainable business is returning to Arizona State University for GreenBiz U, a shadow conference of the 2015 GreenBiz Forum taking place in Paradise Valley, Arizona, Feb. 17-19.

A part of the second annual Sustainability Solutions Festival, a program of the ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, GreenBiz U will bring GreenBiz Forum keynote speakers to the ASU Tempe campus for three days of insights and discussions with sustainability business, education and thought leaders, such as Carter Roberts, president and CEO, World Wildlife Fund; Aaron Hurst, author of “The Purpose Economy”; Jackie Prince Roberts, chief sustainability officer for the Carlyle Group; and Sheila Bonini, CEO of The Sustainability Consortium. GreenBiz Forum Download Full Image

This diverse array of speakers will address topics such as the value of partnerships, portable solar electronics, zero carbon campuses and the State of Green Business report that will be discussed during the GreenBiz Forum opening. All presentations will take place in Wrigley Hall, room 481. All sessions are free and open to ASU students, faculty, staff and community partners.

"This is an extraordinary collaboration with far-ranging impact,” said Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group, Inc. “By leveraging our collective networks and knowledge bases, we are convening an unparalleled group of speakers and attendees that will make this week a truly exceptional opportunity for knowledge sharing and networking among the sustainable business community."

GreenBiz U will mark the first campus presentation by Bonini, who last fall was named CEO of The Sustainability Consortium, a multi-stakeholder nonprofit organization that translates scientific information into business practice.

More than 100 member organizations and companies collaborate with scientists to design and implement credible, transparent and scalable science-based measurement and reporting systems that drive innovation to improve consumer product sustainability. Bonini and Kevin Dooley will discuss the function and future goals for The Sustainability Consortium, which is jointly administered by ASU and the University of Arkansas.

"The Sustainability Consortium is an important part of ASU’s commitment to sustainability, serving as a bridge between academic science and real-world business to drive more sustainable consumer products," said Bonini. "With the global reach of our members, along with our partner institutions at ASU, Arkansas, Wageningen University in The Netherlands and Nanjing University in China, this session is a valuable opportunity for the ASU community to understand the scale, scope and impact of this organization that is based in their 'backyard.'"

Now in its second year, the Sustainability Solutions Festival’s partnership between ASU, GreenBiz and The Sustainability Consortium has positioned the week’s events as a premiere destination for audiences of all ages to learn about and engage in sustainability solutions. This year’s theme is “(re)imagine what’s to come,” showing how one organization, one community or even one person can make positive change in the world.

“We are extremely proud of our partnership with GreenBiz for the Sustainability Solutions Festival and feel fortunate to be able to bring such esteemed sustainability leaders to the ASU campus to engage our university community,” said Patricia Reiter, executive director of the Walton Initiatives.

For the full GreenBiz U schedule, visit sustainabilitysolutions.asu.edu/greenbiz-university-forum-2015. For more information about the Sustainability Solutions Festival, visit sustainabilityfestival.asu.edu.

Jason Franz

Senior manager, Marketing and Communications, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives


Collaborations with industry aim to boost solar energy technology

January 13, 2015

Two Arizona State University engineers – Mariana Bertoni and Stuart Bowden – will have roles partnering with industry as part of an effort by the U.S. Department of Energy to aid photovoltaic manufacturing and supply-chain companies in advancing their technologies.

Their projects are among research and development endeavors the Department of Energy is supporting through its SunShot Solar Manufacturing 2 program, which is providing more than $24 million to 10 solar energy technology manufacturers based in the United States. Bertoni solar panel Download Full Image

The program supports development of innovative technology for novel manufacturing equipment and processes that will reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Bertoni, an assistant professor, and Bowden, an associate research professor, are faculty members in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. They both also are Senior Sustainability Scientists in the Global Institute of Sustainability.

Bertoni will work with SolarWorld Industries America Inc. to develop technology for a novel silicon ingot growth, the process by which the material for solar cells is manufactured. Funding from the Department of Energy will help transition SolarWorld’s proprietary NeoGrowth manufacturing process from pilot stage into early-stage production.

SolarWorld is the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer and one of the world's largest solar-technology producers, headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon.

The project will upscale the NeoGrowth production capacity to 300 megawatts of high-quality silicon wafers at a cost that is competitive with wafers on the open market.

Bertoni will identify the most detrimental defects present in the new crystals grown by SolarWorld and analyze the impact of the crystals on the performance of solar cells. The results will help SolarWorld optimize growth conditions to minimize as-grown defects and maximize the power-conversion efficiency of the final solar cells.

“This technology has the potential to revolutionize the wafer manufacturing industry by increasing throughput and quality when compared to current market technologies,” she said.

Bowden will work with Technic Inc. to eliminate the use of silver in the manufacturing of solar energy cells, and replace it with copper, a more abundant and less costly material. The goal is to develop a copper-plating technique that will reduce the cost of making solar cells without a decrease in performance quality.

Technic Inc. has established a global reputation for technical excellence in the electro-deposition of precious metals. It has more than 20 global facilities in 14 countries and is headquartered in Cranston, Rhode Island.

The solar photovoltaic industry presently uses 15 percent of the world’s silver supply. Replacing it with copper will allow the industry to grow by a huge magnitude and work at terawatt levels, Bowden said.

For his project, an ASU research facility will house the first installation of machinery for the new copper-plating process that will enable production of industrial-scale solar cells that do not require silver.

The two projects “demonstrate ASU’s leadership in collaborating with industry partners to bring new technologies out of the lab and into the market,” Bowden said.

A grant of $4 million to SolarWorld Industries America includes $400,000 for Bertoni’s research.

A $900,000 grant to Technic Inc. allocates $400,000 for Bowden’s research.

The projects boost ASU’s growing research activity in photovoltaic technologies for solar energy generation.

The largest part of that research portfolio is the Engineering Research Center for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies – or QESST – supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy to solve technological and economic challenges to harnessing solar power on larger scales. Read more.

Bertoni and Bowden are part of the QESST research team.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU, Albania partner to advance nation's sustainability, education quality

November 10, 2014

To assist Albania’s transition toward a sustainable national education strategy, Arizona State University’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives were awarded a $100,000 grant from Open Society Foundation for Albania to research energy-efficient building methods that can be implemented in Albania’s public schools.

The grant was made possible thanks to a co-funding arrangement between Open Society Foundation for Albania and Good Ventures Foundation in California. Krrabe middle schoolers Download Full Image

This study, conducted by the Walton Initiatives’ Global Sustainability Solutions Services in partnership with the East-West Management Institute will become the cornerstone of the Ministry of Education’s initiative to establish an Education Excellence Fund, a program to introduce and fund innovation in the Albanian educational system, transitioning the nation’s schools into centers for community development and innovation.

“Students not only learn better in energy-efficient school environments, they learn from them,” says Arbjan Mazniku, Albania’s deputy minister of education. “We want our energy-efficient schools to be an ideal place for students to learn and achieve, as well as an ideal resource for developing the social and economic vitality of our communities.”

The Walton Initiatives team will harness ASU’s extensive resources, including experts in green building and international development, to complete a cost-benefit analysis of energy-efficient schools in Albania.

“This project with the Albanian government demonstrates our commitment to meeting global sustainability challenges by leveraging the university’s intellectual assets to develop and deliver applied, tailor-made solutions,” says Fron Nahzi, global business development director for the Walton Initiatives.

The study will be shared with international donor organizations, private investors and the Albanian government to make a case for how and where to most effectively invest in retrofitting current schools in Albania as part of the nation’s efforts to improve energy efficiency, boost its economy and create a sustainable future.

“This research will help establish the financial model for how Albania can begin updating its schools,” says Andi Dobrushi of the Open Society Foundation for Albania. “We are pleased to provide this funding to Arizona State University’s Walton Initiatives because the development of Albania’s schools and education system is a vital component to the nation’s democratization.”

Improving energy efficiency is the next step for Albania to match the growing trend among countries worldwide, especially member countries of the European Union, to reduce their use of resources of all kinds and create innovative pathways to a sustainable, prosperous future.

Jason Franz

Senior manager, Marketing and Communications, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives


Building the framework for the future of biofuels

September 29, 2014

Biofuels – fuels made from plants – are seen by many as one of the better options for brightening the national energy outlook.

They offer a promising renewable resource as a replacement for nonrenewable fossil fuels, and a way to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being pumped into the atmosphere as a result of our use of conventional petroleum-derived fuels. Amy Landis biofuels research Download Full Image

They could help the United States take major steps to reduce the country’s dependence on oil from other parts of the world.

For more than five years, Amy Landis has led research that is revealing the potential rewards of developing large-scale biofuels production, as well as the potential drawbacks we would face in the effort.

“We are documenting that there would be environmental benefits, but also trade-offs in growing biofuels that would have to be dealt with,” said Landis, an associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University (ASU).

Two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants combined to provide about $650,000 for projects directed by Landis, enabling her to paint a clearer picture of the impacts of developing a major biofuels industry. Both grants were through the NSF’s Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division.

One project looked at the feasibility of growing bioenergy crops on marginal lands where soil nutrients first have to be restored to enable agricultural use. A second project involved forecasting the environmental impacts of next-generation biofuels.

According to Landis, lands damaged by industrial waste or other pollutants could be restored sufficiently to support agriculture for growing bioenergy crops.

Landis’ team was able to use other forms of nonhazardous industrial waste materials to neutralize the acidity of soil at polluted sites – particularly abandoned mining lands. The method restored fertility to a level that allowed many of the plants, from which biofuels are derived, to grow.

As a result, biofuels agriculture could become a significant contributor to soil remediation, land reclamation and natural storm water management that fertile, absorbent ground can provide.

A complex system

A downside is that many biofuel crops, like food crops, require fertilizers that cause water degradation, and the water carrying the fertilizers can be transported by runoff into other areas where they can do environmental harm.

To fully understand the ramifications of a big commitment to cultivation of biofuel sources, Landis said she took a holistic approach that examines the entire life cycle of bio-based products.

She looked beyond the benefits of greenhouse gas reductions and energy savings to the challenges of weighing long-term benefits and potential problems.

Landis has been able to quantify some potential future nationwide impacts of growing the various kinds of bioenergy plants – corn grain, soybeans, switchgrasses, canola and algae, for example – to extensively assess economic, social and environmental effects.

That included evaluating the feasibility of bioenergy crops to meet the Energy Independence and Security Act Renewable Fuel Standards, which sets challenging goals for fuel production quantity.

The project involved consideration of the various agricultural and environmental management strategies that would be critical to preventing or mitigating undesirable consequences that could result from growing bioenergy crops to manufacturing biofuels.

The work was also intended to provide a framework for a life-cycle assessment method that can be applied to future evaluations of biofuels cultivation and production, and for gauging the sustainability of various fuel development strategies throughout the United States.

“Our work shows there is no silver-bullet biofuel that provides a perfect sustainability solution,” Landis explained. “Developing domestic sustainable fuels is a complex problem and we must consider the wide range of environmental impacts, economic ramifications and social factors.

“In particular for biofuels that rely heavily on fertilizer, our work shows that we should pay particular attention to protecting water quality,” she said. “However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Our NSF-funded research also developed some creative solutions to utilize abandoned lands and waste materials to produce biofuels.”

Broader impacts

The NSF support enabled Landis to use her research findings for education outreach. Much of the information is being incorporated into undergraduate and graduate courses. In addition, in the past several years the grants have supported research activities of four undergraduate students and five graduate students, while also allowing another seven graduate students to engage in work related to the research projects.

Outreach efforts have also included demonstrations to K-12 students and their families. For example, Landis and her lab team have brought plants out of the greenhouse to show how biofuels are made from plants.

This and similar learning activities at ASU’s annual Engineering Open House, DiscoverE Day, Night of the Open Door events andEngineering Adventure programs are reaching more than 14,000 younger students each year.

In addition, Landis volunteers at an annual Geared for Girls summer camp, where she talks about what her research is showing about the life cycles of energy and products.

Landis has been able to bring a multifaceted perspective to her biofuels research, drawing on the broad range of expertise reflected in her diverse academic and research roles at ASU.

Those roles include that of research director for the Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management; senior sustainability scientist with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability; a Fellow of Sustainable Development and Ethics with the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics; and her appointment as a Tooker Professor of STEM Education in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

This article originally appeared on the National Science Foundation website, where there are features on related NSF-supported research projects.

See the post of this article on the NSF website.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Secretary of Agriculture delivers talk on 'homegrown energy' and the need for innovation

September 4, 2014

Developing a deeper understanding of agriculture's role in the future of energy, innovation and economic growth, particularly in rural areas, will be key to addressing global sustainability challenges, said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack during his talk Sept. 4 at Arizona State University.

Vilsack spoke on “Homegrown Energy: Unlimited Opportunity for Innovation” as part of the Sustainability Series at ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. The lecture series, which explores a range of environmental, social and economic issues, gave Secretary Vilsack the opportunity to discuss with students and faculty the U.S. farming shift to renewable energy. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Download Full Image

While each year fewer Americans – less than one percent – claim farming as an occupation, the number of ranchers and farmers transitioning to renewable energy sources is on the rise, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which saw that number double from 2007. Solar panels accounted for nearly two-thirds of farms' energy-producing systems.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is partnering with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and diversify our portfolio of biofuels and other renewable energy sources,” Vilsack said. “We are also engaging with universities like ASU to explore innovative solutions for challenges related to energy, food and sustainability.”

Prior to his talk, Vilsack met with faculty and leaders from the ASU Wrigley Institute to discuss ongoing ASU sustainability research in the areas of algae fuels and cyanobacteria, food-based and cellulose-based energy sources, sustainable phosphorus and carbon sequestration. ASU's Gary Dirks, director of the institute; Rob Melnick, executive director and chief operating officer of the institute; and Christopher Boone, dean of the School of Sustainability, offered an overview of research projects.

After praising ASU's pioneering efforts to advance sustainability research, education and everyday practice in seeking real-world solutions to today's most pressing problems, Vilsack shared some of the challenges his own department is facing on the path toward a sustainable future.

"Nearly 40 percent of food in the United States goes to the landfill, which means that we are not just wasting food, but also water, energy and resources that were used to grow that food," he said. "We are examining the food system to make it more efficient.

“We’d like to move toward a circular economy, one that is entrepreneurial and innovative, is restorative in nature, and eliminates waste by design. Such an economy will create better paying jobs and help rebuild the middle class.

“We hope to create a brave new world through all of our initiatives," he said.

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

ASU partners with US Virgin Islands on renewable energy projects, education

July 2, 2014

Arizona State University is partnering with the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist in the development of renewable energy practices in the island territory, as well as invigorate the renewable energy market and expand upon energy education.

U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. and ASU Provost Robert Page met in June at the ASU Tempe campus to formalize the partnership. U.S. Virgin Islands representatives meet leaders at ASU Download Full Image

The partnership, a product of ASU’s dedication to sustainability and global engagement, will unite world-class faculty from ASU with U.S. Virgin Islands leaders in a common mission to transform the way in which renewable energy resources are used in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We are excited to be partnering with the U. S. Virgin Islands and to help them develop new renewable energy practices and expand upon energy research and education,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU. “This collaboration is a great opportunity for the university to work side by side with the Virgin Island leaders, utilities and university to create solutions to sustainability challenges that face our communities locally and globally.”

This partnership is designed to help the island territory advance upon its goal of reducing its fossil fuel consumption in 2025 by 60 percent from its 2009 baseline. The Virgin Islands is pursuing a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency deployment.

“The value created by this partnership provides the various agencies of the government with the responsibilities for energy efficiency and conservation, waste management, energy education and entrepreneurship, and expansion of our renewal energy platform with an institution that can provide, in one location, research capabilities and practical applications that allow for implementation in a reduced time frame," de Jongh said. "We have established a strong foundation, and based on the work already done by the Energy Office, WAPA, Waste Management and the university, we are ready to execute plans that will benefit our community [in] areas that have long been discussed."

Arizona State University has made a commitment to energy generation and sustainable practices by aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. The university has installed more than 78,000 solar panels across its campuses, initiated energy conservation standards for each of its buildings and made utility infrastructure upgrades, among many other accomplishments.

New ASU engineering program designed to broaden solar energy expertise

July 2, 2014

Engineers who will help lead renewable energy development in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, are getting the specialized training they’ll need through a new solar energy education program at Arizona State University.

The three-week Solar Energy Engineering & Commercialization certificate program geared for professionals in the solar energy industry focuses on the technologies involved in the field, as well as the production and applications of solar energy. ASU solar energy panels Download Full Image

The curriculum also emphasizes the social and environmental aspects of the industry, as well as project management, finance, economics and supply chain management.

“The combination of technical and nontechnical curriculum makes this a unique learning opportunity,” says Karl Theisen, the associate director of professional and executive programs for Global Outreach and Extended Education in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, which is managing the new certificate program.

The program can be customized to meet specific needs of individual companies, agencies and other organizations.

A custom version of the program was developed to educate engineers with the Dubai Energy and Water Authority (DEWA) through a partnership with Tempe-based First Solar, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of thin-film solar cells.

Through the partnership, First Solar is helping to support the Green Economy for Sustainable Development Initiative launched by Dubai’s leaders. The initial group of DEWA students traveled to ASU’s Tempe campus last fall to study the three-week program. They are among those “who are responsible for the development and management of Dubai’s solar initiatives,” Theisen says. “They were required to complete an applied project in the program, and we were able to tailor these projects specifically to the kinds of energy challenges they are facing in their country.”

ASU’s new program grew out of a joint educational venture between the university, First Solar and the Phoenix Workforce Connection to help professionals in the solar energy industry broaden their skills and to prepare others to enter the industry.

“Our long-term aspiration is to support the advancement of solar energy expertise throughout the United States and in other countries,” Theisen says.

The program can be delivered anywhere in the world but, when hosted at ASU, it includes classroom sessions on the Tempe campus as well as off-site tours of several ASU energy research labs and First Solar’s Aqua Caliente solar energy generating station.

Fourteen ASU faculty members are currently on the program’s teaching staff. Their range of expertise spans engineering, agribusiness, resource management, urban planning, geographical sciences and technology development.

Participants in the program are typically required to have an undergraduate degree in a technology-related area, such as engineering, or other energy industry-related areas, such as environmental sciences and business.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU students experience cutting-edge technology at Sandia National Lab

May 27, 2014

In early April, a group of Arizona State University graduate students descended upon Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to engage with current energy leaders and interact with new energy technologies.

The ASU student group is part of the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship: Solar Utilization Network (IGERT SUN) program that seeks to train interdisciplinary doctoral students in a number of solar energy conversion areas to tackle next-generation, global energy challenges through a wide range of perspectives. ASU IGERT SUN students at Sandia National Lab Download Full Image

The students who toured Sandia's laboratories were impressed with the technology they were able to see and learn about while talking with Sandia officials.

"The energy technology that impressed me the most at Sandia was the 'Sunshine to Petrol' project," said chemistry and biochemistry doctoral student Joseph Laureanti. "The project utilizes a 2-3 story parabolic mirror that, basically, concentrates and focuses the solar irradiation to a small area to produce intense heat. The size of the parabolic dish was staggering, almost scary, but nonetheless, very cool."

Sandia offered a unique opportunity for students to tour the national lab, to get an up-close, hands-on view of Sandia’s multiple concentrated solar power and solar furnace technologies, as well as an inside look at research possibilities and resources available to national lab scientists and engineers, should they decide on a similar career path. The site visit also allowed Sandia to showcase some of its latest cutting-edge solar energy technologies, where students could witness the kinds of possibilities and potential research opportunities available to them upon graduation.

Sandia engineer, Charles Andraka, said he enjoyed the student interactions.

“The students appeared to be genuinely excited to be here and were very engaged in the various visits,” he said. “The whole team was appreciative of the exposure to the many Sandia technologies. We often have groups, students or otherwise, who are primarily engineers. The diversity of backgrounds added to the dynamic discussions.”

The IGERT SUN 2012 is the first six-student cohort to complete the five-year, $3 million National Science Foundation-funded program. The program requires six site visits as part of its coursework, and the site visits class is the final course in the two-year curriculum.

The goal is to create a series of students who seek to address a variety of interdisciplinary energy issues – from technology to policy to the social implications of human energy use – in shifting from a fossil fuel-based society to one based on sustainable, renewable energy sources. This is achieved through practical application experiences in real-world energy scenarios where commercial, government and national laboratory leaders are already facing these immediate challenges. The site visits currently span between a number of energy entities in Arizona and New Mexico.

The Arizona State University IGERT SUN program is just one of the ways ASU and Sandia are working together to confront renewable energy challenges. In August 2013, ASU and Sandia signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on energy research, build educational energy programs and workforce development, and inform better energy policy. The IGERT SUN student visit is just one component of advancing these shared institutional goals.

See more photos and interviews with students who toured Sandia National Laboratory on Research Matters.

US Navy supports ASU's development of algae-based biofuels

May 27, 2014

The similarities between the U.S. Navy and civilian cities and industry may not be readily apparent, said Dennis McGinn, U.S. Navy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Installations and Environment, but in the realm of energy use and reliability, there are often parallel problems to be solved. Where there are overlapping issues, such as cost, sustainability, efficiency and energy security, McGinn said the Navy is interested in working with research institutions and industry to improve the energy outlook for all.

“We are thinking about energy in three different ways: first in technology terms; biofuels, wind and solar energy storage, power grid systems and more,” McGinn said during a visit to Arizona State University. “But it takes two other critical elements to achieve our energy goals: partnerships and culture. This is why we’re interested in forging and strengthening relationships with outstanding organizations like ASU.” U.S. Navy Assistant Secretary Dennis McGinn at AzCATI Download Full Image

While the Department of the Navy broadly funds energy research, another key aspect is its considerable influence in setting purchasing standards for their operations. The Navy is using its authority under the Defense Production Act, which allows the Navy, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to invest in industries that are determined critical to national security; in this case, biofuels. McGinn said that the Navy has already invested millions in projects with the DOE and USDA in order to bring down the cost of producing biofuel.

“The Navy wants to buy anywhere between 10 and 50 percent biofuel blends for our ships,” he said. “We want it to be a cost-competitive program. We are working specifically with the USDA to bring down biofuel costs to $3.50 a gallon or less at the commercial scale of 170 million gallons a year by 2016.”

As part of his visit to ASU, McGinn toured the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) at the Polytechnic campus in Mesa. As the largest university-based algae facility on the globe, AzCATI leads the DOE-funded national algae testbed, the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3). The Navy has interest in the work done by AzCATI and ATP3, especially if the cost of creating algae biofuels can shrink to compete with traditional fuel markets, McGinn said.

“The Department of the Navy is very interested in developing alternative transportation fuel to power our fleets,” he said. “Algae biofuel represents great potential in that it is sustainable and scalable. That’s why we’re interested in working with ASU and the industry to advance this technology."

The use of U.S.-made, renewable fuels may not only assist the Navy in becoming more sustainable and independent, but it may also help the nation achieve even better national and economic security.

“Globally, there is a continuing overreliance on fossil fuel. And while we are very appreciative and view it as a blessing to our country to have this current oil and gas boom, in the national security business we get paid to look over the long-term horizon,” said McGinn. “When we look 15 or 20 years out into the future, we see significant potential for great competition, and even conflict, related to increasing world demand for petroleum.”