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Sustainability News

Solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse visits Phoenix and ASU

June 5, 2013

SolarImpulse1Solar Impulse, the innovative Swiss solar-powered airplane, arrived in Phoenix on May 4, 2013 marking a succesful first leg of their 2013 Across America mission. The Solar Impulse team participated in a variety of events including the Phoenix Event Week, Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Spring 2013 graduation ceremony, and a meeting with Gary Dirks, director of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and ASU LightWorks, to learn about ASU’s impressive research and development of solar energy. The Solar Impulse airplane took flight from Phoenix on May 22, 2013.

SolarImpulse2Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the pilots and founders of the Solar Impulse, plan to fly across the USA from coast-to-coast solely through the use of solar power in their “Across America” challenge. Piccard and Borschberg marked the first leg of their trip as they landed in Phoenix on May 4, 2013. During their time in Phoenix, the Solar Impulse team hosted a Phoenix Event Week that highlighted both the innovative solar airplane and Arizona’s significant strides in solar energy and clean tech development. During the event, Bertrand named Arizona Governor Jan Brewer “Solar Queen” because of the significant investments in solar power that have been made in Arizona. The Solar Impulse Phoenix Event Week proved successful with the support of 2,200 people that came to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport to see the solar airplane.

Piccard and Borschberg also addressed the 2013 spring graduates of the ASU Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The pilots spoke about their project and the Solar Impulse team, which is made up of 90 engineers, technicians, technical advisers, organizers, and communications and media managers. Piccard noted the significance of speaking to ASU engineering graduates as a meaningful part of their trip to Phoenix. Both pilots pointed out the importance of engineers having a diverse set of skills and collaborative techniques, skills that ASU engineering students have learned from the university’s interdisciplinary approach to education and research.

The Solar Impulse has broken barriers from being the first airplane that can fly day and night without the use of fuel. The Solar Impulse left Phoenix heading to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and their landing took place on Thursday, May 23rd. In their trip out of Phoenix, Solar Impulse was followed by a helicopter crew that captured the event on film. Watch the video of the Solar Impulse takeoff from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport here.

Solar Impulse states that “the development of efficient and renewable energies is as important for the security and prosperity of our society as for the protection of the environment and our natural resources”. The steps that Piccard and Borschberg have taken speak highly to the advancements in solar technology and have helped changed the way we see the future of energy. Arizona State University is also an excellent example of taking the lead to incorporate solar as a present and future energy source, and we commend the Solar Impulse team for their vision and initiative.

Written by Gabrielle Olson, ASU LightWorks

Photos retrieved from Solar Impluse.

ASU LightWorks’ Dr. Ellen Stechel to Showcase Solar-to-fuel Solutions at 50th International Paris Air Show

June 3, 2013

ParisAirShow1The International Paris Air Show, inaugurated in 1909, is the world’s oldest (and largest) aviation show, drawing participants from all over the world. Open to both professionals and the general public, it is the leading global networking event in the aerospace industry and a prime location for the development and display of leading edge aviation and space innovations. The show is organized by Salon International de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace (SIAE), a subsidiary of Groupement des Industries Françaises Aéronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS). This year’s event will take place June 17-23, 2013 at Le Bourget Exhibition Center.

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The Human Future: Sir Crispin Tickell urges us to confront issues of our day

May 9, 2013

TheHumanFutureHow do humans work with growing populations? Sir Crispin Tickell, advisory council member of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, explores this question in his lecture “The Human Future” which took place on April 11, 2013. This lecture, sponsored as part of the GIOS Wrigley Lecture Series, confronted the issues of adaptation to climate change, the economics of health and wealth, and most importantly, the way we think about sustainability in regards to the future of energy.

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Low-Carbon Fuels from Sunlight and Waste Carbon Dioxide: It is Possible, is it Practical?

April 30, 2013

LowCarbon FuelsA network of issues buried beneath the strategic and economic importance of petroleum and the increasing concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is complex; however, until addressed, no measure of global sustainability will be obtainable.

If we accept that, any solution to such issues yield lower net carbon emissions by 50-80 percent, then despite obvious advantages, alternative fossil fuel pathways cannot be the ultimate solution for transportation.

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ASU Energy Club hosts Water-Energy Nexus Event on Desalination

April 9, 2013

WaterNexus1Pop quiz question—how much of the earth’s surface is covered in water? The answer is 70%. Although that is a big number, less than 1 percent of that water is actually suitable for human use and consumption. The majority of the water on Earth is full of salt or permanently frozen in glaciers. With large scale usage of clean water for farming, drinking, and washing, the concern of water scarcity and drought comes to mind. Researchers have turned to developing water desalination as a route to protect clean water for the future. If we are able to successfully tackle water-related challenges by desalination, then we could ultimately face the looming effects of climate change and clean water demands for the future.

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ASU Workshop Discusses Social and Ethical Considerations of Solar Energy

March 19, 2013

SolarTour3On February 22, 2013, ASU faculty and students attended an all-day workshop focusing on the larger social, economic, policy, and ethical considerations of solar energy. This event was sponsored by ASU's Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes (CSPO), the National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Engineering. The speakers and facilitators hosting this event included Clark Miller, the Associate Director of CSPO; Joseph Herkert, an Associate Professor of Ethics and Technology in the School of Letters and Sciences; and Chad Monfreda, a graduate research associate at CSPO.

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ASU and the AZ Science Center Spotlight the Future of Energy

February 26, 2013

AZScienceCenter1On January 24, 2013, ASU students, faculty, researchers, and members from across the Phoenix metropolitan area attended a public event titled “The Future of Energy: Brown, Clean, or In Between?”. The event included booth displays by the Arizona Energy Consortium and the university community, a compelling panel discussion, and a dinner reception. The event was hosted by the partnership of Arizona State University and the Arizona Science Center.

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Spotlight on ASU Research at ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit

February 5, 2013

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is hosting its fourth annual Energy Innovation Summit in Washington D.C. on February 25-27, 2013. The event is designed to collect esteemed individuals involved in the energy community- researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, and government officials- to engage in sharing ideas to develop and deploy next generation energy technologies. The summit is a unique opportunity to discuss innovative energy solutions that will fit the world’s future needs.

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Transitioning into a Sustainable Energy Future: A Lecture by Distinguished Scholar, Dr. Arun Majumdar

December 19, 2012

TransitioningEnergy1On October 19 Dr. Arun Majumdar presented a lecture titled “A New Industrial Revolution for a Sustainable Energy Future” as part of the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Scholar Lecture series. Many students, staff, professors, and researches in the field gathered to listen to Dr. Majumdar’s lecture. The lecture focused on how the United States’ Industrial Revolution had historically impacted energy technologies and how the theory of transitioning to efficient solutions can be applicable to how we will use and shape our current energy resources. Through his research, Dr. Majumdar has led a phenomenal career in paving a path to the future of sustainable energy technologies.

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Complex Systems Theory: The Role of Invention, Sustainability, and Innovation in Societies

December 6, 2012

ComplexSystem1On November 15 the Dean of the School of Sustainability, Sander van der Leeuw, spoke at the Tempe Center for the Arts about complex systems theory on the role of sustainability and innovation in societies as part of the distinguished Wrigley Lecture Series. The lecture focused on the evolution of human minds and how people have historically worked together to improve societies through the role of invention and innovation.

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Clean Energy, the Great Convener: Director Peter Byck Says We Are Not as Polarized as We Think

November 20, 2012

CleanEnergyConvener1Last month, film director Peter Byck visited ASU Tempe campus to speak to an audience about lessons learned from touring and filming his documentary Carbon Nation. Byck toured the nation and interviewed over 300 people (only 61 people were actually used in the movie) to speak on behalf of climate change solutions. In his findings, Byck supported evidence that both liberals and conservatives in the U.S. are not polarized on the issue. In fact, there is vast agreement across the political spectrum when it comes to supporting clean energy initiatives and energy efficiency.

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ISTB 4 Grand Opening: Panel Discussion Highlights

October 3, 2012

ISTB41Wednesday, September 19, 2012 marked the grand opening of the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV (ISTB 4) on ASU Tempe campus. In celebration of this event, the Office of Knowledge and Enterprise Development (OKED) hosted a forum discussing how activities and research at ISTB 4 and ASU affect the local economy and state. The “Exploring the Economic Impact of Research in Arizona” forum hosted a renowned group of panelists that represented the fields of research that are now housed at the ISTB 4 building. OKED Senior Vice President, Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, was the moderator of the forum and began with introducing each panelist as a representation of the three interdisciplinary topic areas to discuss: earth and space exploration, security and defense, and energy and sustainability.

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Arizona Sustainable Cities Series: An Interview with Tempe Mayor Mitchell

September 20, 2012

ArizonaSustainble1It is near impossible these days to research cities, businesses, or universities without coming across their sustainability initiatives. What exactly does sustainability mean? Why is it so important? ASU President Michael Crow has answered this question by saying, “Sustainability is a concept with as much transformative potential as justice, liberty, and equality.” As our world continues to grow, sustainability will be a leading factor in shaping our future environmental responsibility, accommodating population growth and resource deprivation, and introducing new economic outcomes from residential to global levels. Sustainability is the term to use when we think about designing a cleaner, brighter future.

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ASU’s Solar Energy Engineering & Commercialization Program: Preparing Students to Be the Solar Entrepreneurs of the Future

August 29, 2012

ASUSolar1With the 2012 presidential election coming up, energy policy ensures itself as a frontline issue that both candidates need to continue to address. The question of where and how we will produce our energy will need to be determined in order to accommodate our future energy demands. Renewable energy has become a hot topic of discussion due to rapidly advancing clean technology as a result of the necessity to find ways to be more sustainable and efficient in our methods of energy use and the ever-present impacts we continue to see in our environment from our current methods. That being said, it is no coincidence that the push for wide acceptance of renewable energy in U.S. (and global) energy policy has influenced the increased interest in renewable energy studies at universities across the nation. Students who are interested in renewable energy studies will be the ones to fill the demand of our growing green job market and help conduct the research to foster the appropriate technology to do so. Students here at ASU are already fulfilling these roles.

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AzCATI Update: Plastic Film vs. Acrylic Photobioreactors

August 2, 2012

AzCATIUpdate1AzCATI continues to be a crucial forefront of innovation in biofuels, bio-product research, and commercialization of algae-based goods. The research hub has taken significant strides in their mission to serve as a national test bed to accelerate the advancement of algae technology for the future. Although there are many goals that have been accomplished, a primary focus today at AzCATI is to continue research in producing a low-cost and efficient feedstock for biofuel production. Peter Zemke, technical lead of photobioreactors at AzCATI, chatted with me last week on some progress taking place to pursue this goal.

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Sustainable Summer Presentation: Arizona’s Path to an Energy Efficient Summer

June 17, 2012

It’s no secret that living in Arizona during the summer can be quite the battle. With record temperatures soaring up, a group of experts specializing in how state residents can sustainably cope with these blistering sun rays gathered at the Global Institute of Sustainability last week to provide answers. The presentation touched on past, present, and the prospective future of dealing with the inevitable long, hot Arizona summers.

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