University of Delaware
delware environmental institute


Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

Dispatch from Copenhagen: Dec. 14
12/15/2009 -

Editor's note: John Byrne, director of the University of Delaware's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) and co-chair of the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU), is at the international Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. Following is the first in a series of his reports from the summit.

Copenhagen and the Bella Center -- the site of the 2009 global climate change summit -- is reeling with a crush of advocates and organizations converging on the city. The site of the summit can only hold 15,000 and more than 40,000 are gathered outside the building in freezing temperatures trying to enter.

The U.N. is simply overwhelmed by the demand and has tightened security in and around the Bella Center. Despite the contentious day, Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain, professor in the University's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, led the Oceans Day program with distinction and polish. She did an admirable job on a difficult day in the city.

Extension scientist's research helps to protect Chesapeake Bay
12/14/2009 -

Greg Binford spends his days in college laboratories and cornfields miles from the Chesapeake Bay but his research has a direct impact on the water quality of this estuary, which is home to more than 3,600 species of plants and animals and more than 16.6 million people.

A plant and soil science specialist for University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Binford works to optimize crop production for farmers while minimizing the impact on the environment of the fertilizer and manure nutrients essential for crop growth. Binford also serves as an associate professor in UD's Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

Earlier this year, he received a $550,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a nutrient management system that will result in less nitrogen leaving cornfields and entering the Chesapeake Bay while improving overall profitability to growers.

UD, China Agricultural University organize symposium
11/30/2009 -

Four leading Chinese scientists participated in an invitational symposium organized by the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and China Agricultural University at the recent International Meetings of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, held Nov. 1-5 in Pittsburgh.

The symposium was co-sponsored by the Association of Chinese Soil and Plant Scientists in North America.Symposium organizers were Tom Sims, deputy dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and T.A. Baker Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry, and Fusuo Zhang, dean and professor in the CAU College of Resources and Environmental Sciences.

11/30/2009 -

The University of Delaware's single stream recycling plan has achieved a campus record diversion rate of just over 31 percent in September and just over 30 percent in October

Diversion rates are calculated by dividing the total weight of recyclable material by the weight of all trash plus recyclables.

The total amount of trash in September was 341 tons, and an estimated 106 tons were diverted from landfills through recycling. The total amount of trash in October was 324 tons, with 97.5 tons recycled.

Plugging in to sun's power
11/18/2009 -

Newark, UD have plenty of solar panel potential

The News Journal

In a new sign of solar energy's burgeoning clout, a study has concluded that Newark and the University of Delaware could affordably tap rooftop sunlight for more than three-quarters of daytime power needs using readily available equipment and financing.

The finding appeared in a study dubbed "Creating a Solar City," led by the university's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP).

Using maps and aerial photos, researchers found thousands of Newark-area rooftop surfaces suitable for solar panel grids. By conservative standards, the combined areas could generate as much 96.4 megawatts, displacing up to 76.3 percent of city and university daytime consumption, and 32 percent of 24-hour average needs.

11/15/2009 -


The extent of carbon recycling by the biosphere is vast, far beyond anything human-made technology could accomplish. The planet's natural carbon cycle allows for gigatons of this gas to be released without harm. For humans, the earth's expectation is that each of us annually emits not more than 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide.

Most of Africa, Asia and Latin America have observed this budget. Europe has not -- the continent releases more than 14 tons per person per year; Japan -- our most efficient industrial economy -- releases nearly 11 tons; and the U.S. overshoots its budget by more than any country on Earth -- we emit upward of 21 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year, and our per-capita amount is growing.

Milldams tell scientists about erosion, mercury contamination
11/13/2009 -

It's a picturesque early American image -- a gristmill complete with a water wheel perched on the banks of a swiftly flowing river or stream. Many of these mills are long gone today, but scientists are discovering that the dams associated with them can have lasting environmental effects.

“The dams may have played a role in trapping the mercury and their demise is key to getting it back into the river,” said Pizzuto, professor of geology.The University of Delaware's Jim Pizzuto and Michael O'Neal have documented those effects in Virginia, where they've been working to decrease the amount of mercury entering the South River. The College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) scientists are part of an interdisciplinary team that's trying to understand how mercury is still getting into the river even though a nearby former DuPont plant known to have caused the contamination stopped using the substance in 1950. The pair's research, published in Geology earlier this year, concluded that one of the mercury sources is related to milldams.

UD professor testifies about offshore wind for legislative hearing
11/05/2009 -

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works recently held three days of hearings on the “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The comprehensive climate change legislation includes a mandate to decrease the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, with an 83 percent reduction by 2050. It also outlines provisions for greenhouse gas trading.
The hearings dealt with a wide range of considerations related to the bill, including its effect on the American coal industry, public transportation, and the cost of food. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Willett Kempton, University of Delaware professor of marine policy, provided testimony on carbon-free energy technologies with a focus on offshore wind energy.

University hosts conference on ethics of climate change
11/03/2009 -

Climate scientists, philosophers, economists, ethicists and students gathered at the University of Delaware's Clayton Hall on Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31 to discuss the ways in which humans should respond to climate change, as part of a conference titled, "The Ethics of Climate Change: Intergenerational Justice and the Global Challenge."

An audience of 100 listened to John Broome, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University, discuss the application of moral principles to climate change.

“Philosophers are interested in participating in the climate change discussion but are not sure how to get involved,” Broome said. “If we moral philosophers are going to have any effect on what happens, we're going to have to use a little strategy.”
Broome suggested that one strategic way for philosophers to enter the discussion of climate change is to approach it from the topic of economics.

Solar panels latest in green technology at UD dairy farm
11/03/2009 -

The University of Delaware's dairy farm serves as a model for farmers in the region and leads the way in utilizing the latest green methods of farming and green technology.

“We developed a master plan five years ago to modernize the farm and as funding has become available, we are putting the plan into practice,” said Tom Sims, deputy dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and T.A. Baker Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry.

The most recent farm project has been the installation of 44 solar panels on the roof of the manure recycling facility at the dairy farm as a green initiative to provide clean electrical power. UD had already installed solar panels in Southern Delaware on a poultry house project on a Laurel Farm owned by Allen Family Foods.