delware environmental institute

IN THE NEWS

Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

New Projection Shows Global Food Demand Doubling by 2050
11/22/2011 -

Global food demand could double by 2050, according to a new projection reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The analysis also shows that the world faces major environmental challenges unless agricultural practices change.

Scientists David Tilman and Jason Hill of the University of Minnesota (UMN) and colleagues found that producing the amount of food needed could significantly increase levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the environment, and may cause the extinction of numerous species.

Tying wind power into the grid:  UD-led team receives grant to investigate interconnection and transmission of wind power
11/22/2011 -

The wind power resource off the Atlantic Ocean is huge. But harnessing that power—moving it from the coast to the places where it’s needed—is an equally huge challenge.

A team led by Prof. Willett Kempton at the University of Delaware has received a $540,000 grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate some of the questions associated with connecting and transmitting that power.

According to Kempton, one of the most important questions is whether there will be enough capacity in the transmission system.

“Many large U.S. cities are located on or near the East Coast, giving them close access to the power generated by offshore wind farms,” Kempton says. “But if we begin to seriously exploit the offshore resource, transmission upgrades may be needed.  And even before that point, new transmission systems may be desirable to help make the most of the offshore wind resource.” (full article)

Sharing sustainability:Institute provides a network of ideas for improving campus sustainability
11/17/2011 -

 On Friday, Nov. 4, the University of Delaware’s Sustainability Task Force hosted the Mid-Atlantic Regional Institute on Sustainability in Higher Education to encourage collaboration between campuses committed to sustainability. The one-day institute was held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Perkins Student Center and included about 60 representatives from schools across the region.

11/17/2011 -

The annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data and reports for 2010 from Delaware’s industrial facilities as compiled by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control show a significant decrease in reported emissions compared to 2009 – and a continued trend in reduction since 1998, a baseline year when TRI reporting requirements expanded significantly and more facilities began reporting to the program.

In this 24th year of TRI data collection from facilities, the 2010 data also reflects an impact that both anti-pollution efforts by industry and regulatory efforts by the government have played in the decrease in emissions.

Multidisciplinary search effort results in environmental cluster hire
11/16/2011 -

The University of Delaware welcomes four new faculty members for the 2011–2012 year as a result of last year’s environmental cluster faculty search. As part of the Path to Prominence, the University supports multidisciplinary efforts to develop solutions to issues in energy, the environment and resource sustainability. The cluster hire invited candidates with interdisciplinary interests in these areas to apply for up to six open positions before the initial review began last December.

“By searching for several faculty members in broad areas, we have the possibility of creating multi-disciplinary research teams that work across traditional academic disciplines,” UD Provost Tom Apple said. “This also provides students with an opportunity to study in an interdisciplinary environment.”

Cleaner water:  Novel membrane helps remove perchlorate from drinking water
11/15/2011 -

According to National Cancer Institute statistics, an estimated 48,020 men and women will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2011. The thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland at the base of the neck that produces hormones that control metabolism and growth.

Perchlorate is an emerging contaminant that is known to interfere with the metabolism of the thyroid gland in humans and is thought to be a leading cause of thyroid cancer. Toxic even at low levels, on the order of four parts per billion (ppb), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that perchlorate contamination has affected 15 million people in the United States via drinking water.

Valued in laboratory experiments because it does not react with any other chemical species in water, perchlorate is a chemical byproduct of common fireworks, fertilizer, hazard flares and matches, as well as rocket fuel, munitions and propellants used in the defense industry. (full article)

11/09/2011 -

The Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) is forming a student-led, University-wide Student Programs Committee and invites interested undergraduate and graduate students to submit an application to become a member of the committee. The DENIN Student Programs Committee will plan several programs specifically targeted for UD students during the spring semester, with the goal of involving more students in DENIN’s environmental mission. Committee members, led by DENIN’s student intern, senior Lindsay McNamara, will work collaboratively with DENIN staff to identify the types of events and programs that would be most engaging to students and then carry out the activities. The committee will meet weekly during the 2012 winter session and spring semester, and members will be expected to help staff events.

In search of new biofuels:  UD wins $2.2 million grant for bioenergy research
11/09/2011 -

Biofuels are fuels made from renewable resources, such as agricultural and forest products and byproducts. Unlike their non-renewable fossil fuel counterparts, such as oil, their increased usage has the potential to reduce pollution and U.S. dependence on foreign resources.

Their production, however, is problematic. Biofuels must be produced quickly and at high concentrations in order to make them economically feasible. Unfortunately, the process can be toxic to cells necessary in their manufacture.

Eleftherios (Terry) Papoutsakis, Eugene du Pont Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware, is working to create hardy organisms for producing biofuels and chemicals from renewable sources – microorganisms that are more resistant to toxic chemicals and engineered to withstand the stress response that can inhibit cell growth and cause cell death. (full article)

The Green goes green:  Sustainability successes, dedication to green initiatives celebrated
11/08/2011 -

Oct. 26, 2011, was a day to celebrate the power of the sustainability movement on college campuses across the country.  The University of Delaware joined the nationwide movement with a full day of activities, ranging from a water bottle exchange and a bike clinic to a clothing swap and a gardening workshop.

At UD, the event dovetails with the ongoing Initiative for the Planet, which is aimed at making the University a national and international resource for environmental research, technology, education and policy.

John Byrne, Distinguished Professor of Energy and Climate Policy and director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, started UD’s Campus Sustainability Day off by reiterating the University’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2020. (full article)

Water shield:  UD engineer hopes to protect drinking water using raincoat fabric
11/08/2011 -

Steve Dentel unfurls a large piece of muted green fabric resembling a tablecloth.

“You could use this to line your outhouse pit,” the University of Delaware professor of civil and environmental engineering announces.

This offbeat potential application is not the first that pops to mind.  But, in the developing world, it could be a potential lifesaver.

In countries where sanitation remains antiquated, for instance, a pit in the ground serving as a latrine, pathogens, germs and parasites from human waste easily make their ways into drinking water.

Dentel believes the fabric, a breathable textile that allows water vapor to escape through it, could be the answer.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation concurs.(full article)