University of Delaware
delware environmental institute


Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

04/02/2012 -

The Delaware Association of Conservation Districts (DACD) encourages you to think about your personal responsibility to be a good steward of Delaware’s natural resources during its annual Ste

Good to be green:  Wool to deliver keynote address at Green Chemistry and Engineering conference
03/23/2012 -

In today’s day and age, advances in green chemistry are leading the way for remarkable sustainability efforts. Evidenced in high-performance composites and resins made from soybean and newspapers, as well as computer circuit boards made from chicken feathers, in the hands of researchers, ordinary materials lend themselves to the creation of renewable resources.

Among those leading the charge at the University of Delaware is Richard Wool, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a known authority in green chemistry.

Wool will share his expertise as the lead keynote speaker at the 16th annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Washington, D.C., June 18-20. Held since 1996, the conference annually attracts chemists, engineers, researchers, policy analysts, venture capitalists, students and others interested in global sustainability.

Sediment sleuthing:  Radioactive medicine being tracked through rivers
03/23/2012 -

A University of Delaware oceanographer has stumbled upon an unusual aid for studying local waterways: radioactive iodine. Trace amounts of the contaminant, which is used in medical treatments, are entering waterways via wastewater treatment systems and providing a new way to track where and how substances travel through rivers to the ocean.

“This is a really interesting convergence of medicine, public health and environmental science,” said Christopher Sommerfield, associate professor of oceanography in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

Sommerfield found small quantities of radioactive iodine, also called radioiodine or I-131, by accident while sampling the Delaware River, the main source of freshwater to Delaware Bay. The amounts were at low concentrations that do not pose a threat to humans or the environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Wind energy: UD study assesses ocean use off Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey coasts
03/21/2012 -

The Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration (CCPI) at the University of Delaware has issued a new report about ocean use off the coast of Delaware and parts of Maryland and New Jersey. The study addresses viable places to locate offshore wind farms, taking into account biological, ecological and other considerations. The report includes feedback from interested groups who attended a November 2011 workshop, as well as input from experts.

AGU Fellow:  Luther recognized by American Geophysical Union for pioneering research
03/19/2012 -

As a marine chemist conducting research in the 1980s, George Luther was continually circling between the field to collect salt marsh sediment samples and the lab to measure their chemical makeup. Tired of the process, and concerned about chemical reactions changing results during sampling, he invented a creative solution in the early 1990s: a gold-tipped microelectrode sensor that could take instantaneous readings right in the ground. Two decades later he is being recognized for his innovative approach and other achievements by being named a 2012 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fellow for “his pioneering research in redox reactions, trace element speciation and development of novel in situ electrochemical methods.” The honor is given to individual AGU members who have made exceptional scientific contributions and attained eminence in the fields of earth and space sciences. Luther is among only 61 fellows elected this year who will be acknowledged at an annual AGU meeting in December.

03/19/2012 -


Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Blue River Resources recycling facility, first of its kind in Delaware, receives operating permit from DNREC

DOVER (March 19, 2012) – Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has issued a solid waste resource recovery permit for the first private materials recovery facility (MRF) in Delaware. The MRF operated by Blue River Resources LLC will sort and separate recyclables, then market the materials to commodity buyers or recycling processors. Blue River Resources, located on a former brownfields site, is the newest of several recycling entities in an area of south Wilmington and across the state that have parlayed Delaware’s universal recycling law, which went into effect last year, into a business opportunity.

Environmental impact: Green Liaison sustainability lecture focuses on creating a personal sustainability plan
03/14/2012 -

The question of how to live a sustainable life will be the heart of the next lunchtime Green Liaison Sustainability Lecture Series session on Wednesday, March 14, from noon to 1 p.m., in the Gallery at the Perkins Student Center.

Rich Chapas, adjunct faculty of business administration in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, will lead a discussion about individual value chains and the choices individuals make, from purchasing and logistics to product usage and disposal.

Two in one: Algae species explored for both biofuel source and pollution control
03/14/2012 -

The tiny, plant-like Heterosigma akashiwo is too small to see with the naked eye, but the microscopic algae may pack a big environmental punch. University of Delaware researchers are studying whether the species can neutralize harmful smokestack emissions – and also serve as a source of eco-friendly biofuel.

The project is an outgrowth of biochemist Kathryn Coyne’s study into the ecology of H. akashiwo, which thrives in Delaware and worldwide. Coyne and her postdoctoral fellow, Jennifer Stewart, found that the algae contain a special enzyme with the unusual ability to detoxify nitric oxide, one of multiple contaminants released through industrial chimneys as flue gas.

Based on the discovery of that enzyme, Coyne and Stewart decided to explore the possibility of recruiting the algae for pollution control. They knew that other scientists were trying to use different types of algae to reduce emissions of another flue gas component, carbon dioxide, since algae need carbon dioxide to grow.

'Crowdsourcing': Volunteers to help scientists analyze images on sea floor
03/12/2012 -

Digital cameras make it easy to take a lot of photos – so many, in fact, that they can be difficult to sort through.

Try having more than 250,000. That is how many images researchers took of the ocean floor last summer as part of a new approach to estimating the mid-Atlantic sea scallop population. Now they are tasked with examining each photo, searching for scallops within the frame and counting exactly how many and what size.

Global vision: Chinese oceanographers from Xiamen University visit UD
03/09/2012 -

The South China Sea may be half a world away, but University of Delaware oceanographers are interested in understanding ecosystem dynamics there. The sea is roughly comparable in size to the Mid-Atlantic Bight, receives even higher nutrient inputs from rivers and bays, and experiences analogous water shifts driven by currents.