delware environmental institute

IN THE NEWS

Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

UD to partner with NRG Energy to develop electric vehicle-to-grid technology
09/27/2011 -

NRG Energy, Inc. is partnering with the University of Delaware to take electric vehicles to the next level with eV2g, a company commercializing new technology that will enable electric vehicle owners to sell electric storage services from the batteries of parked electric vehicles to help stabilize the electricity grid. Pioneered by UD's Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy and director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, this patented leading-edge vehicle-to-grid technology has garnered worldwide attention and holds promise to transform the future of the electricity supply.

Sustainability solutions:  UD wins $1 million grant to train energy efficiency experts
09/22/2011 -

The University of Delaware has received $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to continue its Industrial Assessment Center (UD-IAC), an experiential learning student program that saves area manufacturers an average of $90,000 each per year in energy efficiencies.

Through UD-IAC, graduate and undergraduate students gain practical experience in assessing small and medium sized manufacturing industries for large-scale energy saving opportunities, including energy efficiency improvements, waste reduction and pollution prevention measures, and productivity improvements.

BAMS lecture series
UD has been heavily involved in energy research for many years, with numerous faculty conducting technical and policy research in renewable energy, fuel cells, hydrogen, climate change, energy economics and the societal impacts of energy consumption. According to Keith Goossen, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the UD-IAC, the reality is that these resources are not coming to market quickly enough. (full article)

Where has all the oil gone?:  Innovative predictive tool will aid in spill response and mitigation
09/22/2011 -

The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico raised many questions about the impacts of the spill: How are the oil and its constituents physically distributed? How does the oil evolve chemically and degrade biologically in the water? What are the environmental effects on various aquatic systems? What can be done to prevent and mitigate such spills in the future?

To address these questions, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative recently awarded $112.5 million to eight research consortia headed by academic institutions in Gulf Coast states. Under this initiative, the University of Delaware has joined 11 other schools from across the U.S. in the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE).

Led by the University of Miami, CARTHE will conduct basic research to accurately predict the fate of hydrocarbons released into the environment, guiding risk management and response efforts to minimize damage to human health, the economy and the environment. (full article)

NSF Highlight: First global picture of greenhouse gases emerges from pole-to-pole research flights
09/12/2011 -

A three-year series of research flights from the Arctic to the Antarctic has successfully produced an unprecedented portrait of greenhouse gases and particles in the atmosphere. The far-reaching field project, known as HIPPO, ends this week, and has enabled researchers to generate the first detailed mapping of the global distribution of gases and particles that affect Earth's climate.

The HIPPO campaign relies on the capabilities of a specially equipped Gulfstream V aircraft, owned by NSF and operated by NCAR in Boulder, Colo. The research jet, known as the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), has a range of about 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers). It is outfitted with a suite of specially designed instruments to sample a broad range of atmospheric constituents.

A SMART move: Doctoral student receives prestigious SMART Scholarship
09/12/2011 -

Josh LeMonte, a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware, has been awarded a prestigious Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship. The SMART Scholarship for Service Program, part of the National Defense Education Program of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and administered by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the Naval Postgraduate School, provides opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and be gainfully employed upon graduation.

Currently, LeMonte is planning on focusing his research on the role of manganese in the carbon cycle. This work will make him an active member of the Christina River Basin Critical Zone Observatory research team, which is examining human impacts on the movement of carbon atoms through the watershed ecosystem.

Ferry as research vessel: Monitoring system on MV Twin Capes measures Delaware Bay water quality data
09/12/2011 -

During the summer, the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), with the cooperation and assistance of Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA), launched a unique research project using a complex, automated measurement and sampling system on the MV Twin Capes. The SeaKeeper 1000, manufactured and installed aboard the ferry vessel by YSI, Inc. of Yellow Springs, Ohio, collects water quality data while the vessel transits the Delaware Bay.

“Although historically it did not suffer the extreme pollution of the urban Delaware River, the Delaware Bay does suffer from more subtle ‘pollution,’ habitat destruction and overfishing,” said Jonathan Sharp, oceanography professor in CEOE who has been studying the estuary of the Delaware River and Bay for more than three decades and is assisted in this project by doctoral student Yoana Voynova. “A research understanding is necessary to eventually provide a routine monitoring capability to assist in managing the valuable resources of the Delaware Estuary.”

NSF Highlight: Scientists collect water quality and climate change data from huge storm
08/29/2011 -

While Hurricane Irene had officials along the East Coast preparing for mass evacuations, scientists at the Stroud Water Research Center and the University of Delaware were grabbing their best data collection tools and heading straight for the storm's path. It was a rare opportunity for the scientists to learn more about climate change and water quality, as Irene threatened to be the biggest hurricane to hit the northeastern United States since 1985.

Prepping for Irene: State officials benefit from CEOE expertise on storms
08/26/2011 -

We all have a favorite TV station, website, or phone app that we consult for information as storms approach our area. But where does the state turn when it needs real-time, regional weather data to make critical decisions related to storm events such as Hurricane Irene?

Two sources are the Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS), a real-time regional monitoring system coordinated by the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), and the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS). DEOS provides 24/7 data on weather conditions, stream levels, tidal conditions, and many other environmental variables, while DGS supplies information on stream flow and coastal flooding.

As Irene heads north, DEOS and DGS personnel are checking monitoring stations to make sure that they will be ready for what could be significant rain and wind. “Our equipment is designed to withstand some pretty extreme weather,” said Dan Leathers, DEOS co-director and professor of geography.

Quake, rattle and roll: Quake largest felt in Delaware since 1886, researchers report
08/24/2011 -

The Aug. 23 earthquake, registering 5.9 at its epicenter in central Virginia, was the largest one felt in Delaware since 1886 when a magnitude 6.6-7.3 quake hit Charleston, S.C., according to geologist Stefanie Baxter, a DENIN faculty affilliate and research associate at the Delaware Geological Survey, a Delaware state agency based at the University of Delaware.

Baxter was having lunch at a restaurant on Main Street in Newark, Del., when the tables started shaking and the lights began to sway.

“Did you feel that?” Baxter said, and immediately headed back to the office.

The Delaware Geological Survey’s three seismographs recorded the quake; their data has been provided digitally to Lamont-Doherty Observatory at Columbia University, which will do regional analyses of the event. The DGS has also established a special webpage about the earthquake.

The softer side of x-rays: Researchers use NSLS to probe cadmium-contaminated soil
08/19/2011 -

Researchers at the University of Delaware in collaboration with scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown that the chemical structure and bioavailability of cadmium-contaminated soil changes with the flooding and drying cycles of lowland rice culture.

Cadmium is a natural element found in some soils, but human activities like mining and smelting release cadmium into the environment at higher concentrations than normal. This can create a toxic situation for organisms living nearby if the cadmium binds to organic elements and enters the food chain.

In 2003, the International Water Management Institute reported that the Mae Sot district of Thailand had “considerable amounts” of cadmium and zinc in its irrigation water, paddy soils, and rice grain. Saengdao Khaokaew, a Thai graduate student at the University of Delaware and the principal investigator of the study, wanted to determine whether the cadmium remained in inert mineral form or attached to organic sulfur and carbon as a result of the flooding and draining cycles used to cultivate rice. (full article)