delware environmental institute

IN THE NEWS

Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

04/15/2014 -

The Data Centers, LLC hopes to start demolition on a 43-acre brownfield on the University of Delaware's Science Technology and Advanced Research campus this month. The city of Newark issued a demolition permit at the end of March, the first step in TDC's construction of a first-of-its-kind, stand-alone data center in the country.

"We've gone into what's called an islanded [sic] mode," Executive Vice President of Sales, Brian Honish said. "We're gonna be creating our own power from our natural gas turbines, then our steam turbines, our steam chillers -- we'll be using all that by ourselves to support ourselves."

Instead of relying on fluctuating power from a traditional power company, Honish says the data center will eliminate the variable swings in power by building a 279 megawatt combined heat and power plant, or CHP, on site.

News Journal: Native mud crab making recovery
04/15/2014 -

Delawareans know all too well what happens when non-native species take hold. Consider the invasions of brown marmorated stink bugs; Asian lady beetles or an oldie but biggie: the giant marsh reed Phragmites australis. They pretty much take over home, yard and marsh. So it's no wonder that scientists thought the worst when the Asian shore crab – a penny-sized creature with distinctively striped legs – showed up on the rocks at Townsends Inlet near Cape May, N.J., in 1988.

But it turns out, at least in the limited, rocky habitat along the Delaware and Maryland coast, these shore crabs – which were once so abundant here – haven't outpaced the natives, after all. In fact, what Charles Epifanio, the University of Delaware Harrington Professor of Marine Science, and a graduate researcher found was that the tables turned on the populations of the native versus the non-native crabs in the decade after shore crabs dramatically outnumbered native mud crabs.

The Weather Channel: Could flying wind turbines power the globe?
04/15/2014 -

If wind energy isn’t already alternative enough, researchers are now looking at an alternative to the alternative: wind turbines that float. The devices come in a few different models, some looking more like kites and others like small airplanes, but they’re all kept aloft by the wind while being held in place by a ground-based tether. Because wind speed generally increases farther away from the Earth’s surface, airborne devices could generate more power without needing to build increasingly taller turbines, which are expensive and resource-intensive.

But longer tethers mean more drag and less efficient energy production. That’s why Cristina Archer, a University of Delaware environmental engineer, decided to analyze more than 20 years’ worth of hourly wind-speed data, looking for areas known as low-level jets, where more powerful winds blow closer to Earth.

UDaily: Support for offshore wind - 77 percent of Atlantic City residents favor offshore wind energy project
04/15/2014 -

The majority of residents in Atlantic City, N.J., and surrounding communities favor the construction of an offshore wind power project, based on surveys conducted through the Delaware Sea Grant College Program

Results show that 77 percent of residents are inclined to support a demonstration project of five offshore wind turbines visible from the shore, versus 20 percent leaning the other way. The remaining three percent were undecided.

UDaily: 'Poison Spring'  - UD's Jenkins co-authors insider's account of pollution, EPA
04/15/2014 -

McKay Jenkins, Cornelius Tilghman Professor of English at the University of Delaware, is the co-author of a new book about chemical pollution, its effects on public health and the environment and the failures of government regulators.

Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA, published this month by Bloomsbury Press, is the personal account of E.G. Vallianatos, whose career at the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spanned 25 years. Vallianatos has used his own eyewitness experiences at the agency, in addition to interviews with former colleagues and material from hundreds of documents, to explore what he describes in the book as the EPA’s history of corruption, unscientific research and coziness with industry.

News Journal: UD researchers test shore plant for chicken bedding
04/12/2014 -

In a small lab west of Georgetown, poultry extension agent William R. Brown III and Dr. Daniel Bautista, Lasher Lab director and diagnostician, are managing four, mini poultry plots – each a microcosm of a much larger chicken house.

The 200 birds here – 50 in each of the trial plots – have the same genetic makeup, brothers and sisters all. The humidity and temperature, the food and watering regime are identical. The only difference is that each plot has a different kind of poultry bedding – the soft, fluffy material that goes on the floor of chicken houses to absorb waste, spilled water and feed.

DNREC: Wilmington a top U.S. city for solar energy;  No. 3 nationally in solar power per capita
04/11/2014 -

With a new 230-killowatt (kW) solar carport at Delaware Technical Community College’s Wilmington campus as a backdrop, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, Wilmington Mayor Dennis P. Williams and Delaware Tech Exec. Vice President Dr. Mark Brainard joined with Environment America Advocate Adam Graber to announce Wilmington’s ranking as one of the nation’s “Solar Stars” – a top city in the U.S. for solar energy. 

UDaily: Airborne wind energy - High-altitude wind turbines have potential to generate large amounts of electricity
04/11/2014 -

Wind turbines hovering high in the air and tethered to the ground, like kites, have the potential to generate huge amounts of electricity, based on a recent wind availability study led by the University of Delaware.

Researchers pinpointed tracts of the atmosphere ideal for locating airborne wind energy (AWE) devices, which convert kinetic energy from wind into electricity. Findings published in the April issue of Renewable Energy show that there are enough areas usable by airborne turbines to produce several terawatts of electric power annually — more than enough needed to meet worldwide demands.

UDaily: Watershed investment - Nature Conservancy, UD partner on innovative funding mechanism for Brandywine-Christina
04/09/2014 -

Under a grant from the William Penn Foundation, The Nature Conservancy in Delaware (TNC) and the University of Delaware’s Water Resources Agency(WRA) are conducting a feasibility study on the implementation of a “water fund” for the Brandywine-Christina watershed.

At its most basic level, a water fund is a mechanism for downstream beneficiaries to invest in upstream conservation and restoration measures designed to secure freshwater resources -- both quality and quantity -- for people and nature. 

04/07/2014 -

If you plotted Delaware's total snowfall over the last decade, it would show an up-and-down graph from 2004 at 12.6 inches, down to 4.8 inches in 2012, back up to this winter at more than 50 inches. Temperature data shows a similar, up-and-down trend: 33 days above 90 degrees in 2012; just 6 in 2009. Even mean temperatures vary wildly from 62.8 in 2004 to 68.2 in 2012. Rainfall goes up and down too – except for one type: extreme rainfall. Those storms – downpours that bring 2 inches or more in one 24-hour period – seem to be on the rise in Delaware.