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Sustainability News

Vision for rehabilitated watershed lands ASU team with award

View Source | June 18, 2017

Hawaiian SustainabilityPart of the celebration to welcome the canoe Hōkūleʻa home from her worldwide voyage, ASU took the overall prize in the Make the Ala Wai Awesome challenge, an international student design competition that asked contestants to rehabilitate a critical Oʻahu watershed containing one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water.

The School of Sustainability and ASU LightWorks energy center have been working with a Hawai'i public-private partnership network to find new answers to the country's unique sustainability challenges. LightWorks enlisted help from The Design School, which turned the effort into a class project where graduate students in design and sustainability addressed climate change, water, food, energy and natural resources sustainability on the Ala Wai.

Sustainability alumnus named to Greenbiz '30 Under 30'

View Source | June 5, 2017

Samson SzetoSamson Szeto, communications program coordinator of ASU LightWorks, has been named to the 2017 GreenBiz "30 Under 30." The list honors young corporate sustainability professionals who strive to make an impact in their workplace and the world, and Szeto is doing just that.

Szeto, who graduated from ASU’s School of Sustainability in 2013, was nominated by his supervisor Travis Johnson, project and business development manager at LightWorks. He was recognized for his work on several renewable energy projects – including NEPTUNE – and his involvement with carbon capture technology.

The NEPTUNE project, a joint venture with the U.S. Navy and six other universities, trains veterans for careers in the energy sector. Szeto’s work with carbon capture technology involves creating strategic partnerships that unite corporations with ASU researchers working to halt climate change.

"Samson is passionate about driving innovation and sustainability into businesses and society," says Johnson. "I’m proud of him for being honored with the 30 Under 30 award, and I am sure he will continue changing the world."

Science within Art: #ArtTree

May 24, 2017

The interactive artificial carbon capture tree, or #ArtTree, bridges the gap between science and art through a creative project that models a real-life technology. It was built as an artistic representation of Professor Klaus Lackner's carbon capture technology, which passively captures CO2 from the atmosphere 1,000 times more efficiently that trees.

The #ArtTree was created, designed and constructed through collaboration among Samson Szeto of ASU LightWorks ®, Shahrzad Badvipour of the Center of Negative Carbon Emission (CNCE), and Phil Weaver-Stoesz and Dallas Nichols – graduate students at the Herberger Institute at Arizona State University.

The display has been featured at TEDxASU and Earth Day Texas (EDTx), allowing participants to simulate how carbon capture technology works. The #ArtTree is an excellent opportunity to educate attendees at events, not only about climate change issues but about a technology we’re developing here at ASU to solve climate change.

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2017 Vision Award presented to ASU LightWorks®

May 18, 2017

The 2017 Vision Award was presented to the ASU LightWorks® Accelerator team by ASU's Knowledge Enterprise Development (KED). This award is given to a staff member or team who has demonstrated excellence in incorporating the vision and goals of ASU as a model of the New American University.

According to KED, "The LightWorks® Accelerator team has exemplified the vision and goals of a New American University by leading a collaboration program with the U.S. Navy and six other universities titled NEPTUNE. NEPTUNE’s missions are to conduct cutting-edge energy research while engaging the veteran community at ASU to advance their career development."

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Milton Sommerfeld: Legacy and Lifetime Achievements

May 16, 2017

ASU Milton SommerfeldWhat’s so great about algae?

If you had the good fortune to meet Milton Sommerfeld, you have a hearty answer to that question.

Appropriately dubbed “The Wizard of Ooze,” Milt illuminated the world of algae with vibrant imagery, bubbling-good humor, and – if you were lucky – a mouthful of algae cookie, freshly baked by his wife Carolyn.

Milt unlocked algae’s potential, demonstrating its boundless possibility while leaving an enduring legacy of research, both at Arizona State University and well beyond its walls.

Catching the algae bug

Milt grew up in rural Texas on his family’s farm. Not only did this upbringing teach Milt the importance of hard work, resilience and integrity – virtues he continually demonstrated to his students and colleagues – it also introduced him to a specific slimy-green substance.

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2017 Algae Industry Magazine’s International Readers’ Poll

May 13, 2017

Algae Industry Magazine’s (A.I.M.) International Readers’ Poll is an assessment of where the algae industry is today, and what dominated 2016. It singles out those who are driving the industry’s progress, as well as those who are making the most valuable contributions through their dedication, skills, ideas and high achievement.

The 2017 International Readers’ Poll surveys the perspectives of A.I.M. readers, who have invaluable firsthand knowledge in recognizing the trends and technologies that will enable algae development and applications.

This year, Arizona State University won four Gold Awards: Algae Educational Institution and Algae Laboratory awarded to the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI), Scientist or Research awarded to Dr. Thomas Dempster, and Laboratory Equipment awarded to Dr. Bruce Rittmann and Dr. Klaus Lackner.

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Charrettes at ASU and Earth Day Texas: Interview with ASU LightWorks®

May 10, 2017

A national series of charrettes is being held to drive acceleration of all profitable clean solutions in different industries, such as oil and gas, transportation, etc.

The goal of these charrettes is to identify and explore proposals for utilizing tax cuts to reduce emissions of air pollutants. At Arizona State University’s ASU Wrigley Institute, ASU LightWorks® hosted a charrette with the goal of developing policy proposals for clean tax cuts that would benefit research and development in clean technology, particularly technology that reduces concentrations of air pollutants in the atmosphere.

“Universities can create new technologies, but it is companies that will need to bring these to markets," says  Bill Brandt, director of ASU LightWorks®. "The charrette process is a way of asking the question 'what if' and then thinking through how that helps create jobs and opportunity.”

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Joining forces with private sector for sustainability outcomes

April 18, 2017

WBCSDIn March, two representatives from Arizona State University attended the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s 2017 Liaison Delegate meeting in Montreux, Switzerland. Amy Scoville-Weaver represented ASU’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO), and William Brandt attended on behalf of ASU LightWorks.

The WBCSD is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.

The conference, Roadmap for Impact in Today’s Reality, focused on the drastic political changes over the past year, implications for sustainability and the critical opportunity for the private sector to engage in new ways on sustainable development. As part of the conference, WBCSD released its CEO Guide to the Sustainable Development Goals.

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ASU and UNAM join forces for microgrid boot camp

View Source | March 10, 2017

Students assemble solar panels at the ASU Poly campusIn March 2017, doctoral students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) joined NEPTUNE student veterans on ASU's Polytechnic campus for a week-long, intensive microgrid boot-camp.

Over a 40-hour period, boot camp attendees learned about microgrid infrastructure through interactive tours, lectures and lessons, and were provided with a platform to collaborate and share insights.

Mircogrid systems provide back-up energy during loss of power from a main grid, and are vital for places that need reliable and continuous energy – such as hospitals or military bases. They can be powered by various types of energy including solar, which was the focus of the boot camp.

UNAM's partnership with ASU's LightWorks made the collaboration possible, and the pair continue to work together to develop alternative energy solutions.

NEPTUNE enters Phase II of veteran engagement, energy innovation

February 7, 2017

Soldiers saluting at sunsetDesigned to break new ground in alternative energy; increase educational opportunities for the military community; and bolster science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach, the Department of the Navy and the Office of Naval Research have launched the Naval Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence initiative, or NEPTUNE.

NEPTUNE has just entered its second iteration, growing to a $3 million, three-year program providing funding to four universities – Arizona State, Purdue, MIT and UC Davis – in addition to the U.S. Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School. Its goals are to help the Navy and Marine Corps discover ways to improve energy conservation, generate renewable energy and implement energy-efficient technologies while giving active-duty military, military students and veterans the chance to immerse themselves in university-level research.

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Microalgal biomass production in testbeds using wastewater in Mexico

September 19, 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In June 2016, Thomas Dempster, Research Professor and Laboratory Manager for the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI), traveled to Queretaro, Mexico to install the two open-raceway ponds at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) Institute of Engineering. These two ponds would support microalgal biomass production in testbeds using wastewater.

Through this new installation in Mexico, results can be analyzed and compared between the AzCATI ponds in Arizona using the same strain and under the same conditions. Both universities will research and measure bioremediation – the reduction of nitrates, phosphates and heavy metals from municipal and industrial wastewaters – as the primary sources of culture media.

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Innovative microgrid training boot camp at ASU

August 24, 2016

asu-lightworks-microgridsGlobal capacity of microgrids is expected to grow by 500% over the next ten years for applications such as the military, remote villages, telecom, campuses and industrial parks, mines, communities, buildings, and commercial and industrial centers.

In May, LightWorks® – in collaboration with NEPTUNE’s Micro-Grid Project lead by Nathan Johnson – hosted a micro-grid boot camp for civilian and military application. This boot camp has trained 25 US Veterans to date, with plans to expand training to hundreds of people per year. The one-week program couples simulation-based design with hands-on integration to provide an “all-inclusive” approach to microgrid education. Two Veteran graduates from the program have been hired into Dr. Johnson’s research laboratory to work on design, fabrication and control of 1 kW to 100 kW micro-grids focused on providing power to 1.4 billion people without electricity.

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Developing renewable energy plan and tools in collaboration with military and government stakeholders

June 30, 2016

LBrugTempe, AZ (June 30, 2016) – The U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment awarded $941,469 to Arizona State University and the City of Surprise to fund the creation of the Arizona Military Energy Land Use Plan (AME-UP). In partnership with the City of Surprise, ASU is working hand-in-hand with multiple stakeholders and military installations to create interactive community planning and web tools for stakeholder development of renewable energy projects.

The AME-UP project will last the duration of 20 months, ending December 2017, and will be broken up into four phases: data collection, outreach, tool development and testing/verifying. The two outcomes of the project will be a best practices plan for assessment of existing and planned energy projects and an online interactive web-mapping tool that can be used by city and community planners, military personnel, renewable energy developers and other stakeholders.

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A neighborly partnership for energy reform

View Source | June 23, 2016

Beltrán stands at a podium with a black curtain behind himLeonardo Beltrán Rodríguez, undersecretary for planning and energy transition under Mexico’s Secretary of Energy, is managing the most significant reform of Mexico’s energy sector in more than 70 years – and ASU is helping him do it. In June 2016, Beltrán met with ASU leaders to formalize a relationship of future collaboration in energy research and education.

“ASU is one of the premier universities in the U.S. in terms of energy research, with nationally recognized centers...,” said Stephen Goodnick, deputy director of ASU LightWorks. “ASU also has strong partnerships within Mexico, with more than $35 million worth of projects related to Mexico either in partnership with Mexican entities or with a focus on Mexican topics, cultures or materials.”

Veteran engagement through NEPTUNE clean energy projects

May 28, 2016

NEPTUNE SQUAREIn May 2016, over 100 attendees and project members participated in the NEPTUNE fair at Arizona State University's Tempe campus. With representation from six universities – ASU, Purdue, M.I.T., UC Davis, the Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School – the fair allowed student veterans and researchers to present their projects and to engage with members like professors, government officials and professionals in the private sector.

Director of ASU LightWorks® Gary Dirks gave opening remarks, and the Vets4guitars musicians – who use music as therapy for veterans – performed. In addition, visiting Assistant Professor Boyd Branch displayed his work The Veteran Project, which uses improv theater to help veterans tell their story.

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ASU LightWorks director named clean air champion

May 25, 2016

Sun Clean Cities CoalitionThe Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition is one of 90 coalitions across the country designated by the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce the use of petroleum motor fuel. These efforts are directed under the Clean Air Act and Energy Policy Act to reduce air pollution and dependence on foreign oil.

Every two years, Valley of the Sun and Tucson Regional Coalitions stage a Legislative Breakfast, where legislators, staff and civic leaders are invited to learn the latest in the means of reducing the use of petroleum fuel. This event features key speakers and a comprehensive display of alternative fuel vehicles.

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Understanding climate and energy through environmental humanities

May 18, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11 52 44 AMEnvironmental humanities is a rapidly growing field focused on the study of human imagination, perception, behaviors and the relationship with their surrounding environments, both social and natural. Arizona State University humanist research is led by sustainability scholar Dr. Joni Adamson. Her research defines how and why, in the face of seemingly non-imminent danger, humans choose to act as they do and what would make them shift direction rapidly.

This approach is being integrated into all climate and energy research at ASU. This work will contribute substantially to the understanding of human behaviors, motivations, and decision-making, both individually and collaboratively. This research aims to catalyze the rapid social transitions needed to address global energy transitions and climate change.

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Designing solar-powered cyanobacteria for production of biofuels

May 18, 2016

J06088 Lightworks BIFOLD 3 PDFP2Green chemicals and biofuels are projected to become major players in the economy. This is incredibly important as CO2 levels rise and fossil fuel use becomes a liability.

Dr. Willem Vermaas, a senior sustainability scientist,  and his team have been researching a novel concept to use photosynthetic microorganisms or cyanobacteria as biocatalysts that use solar energy and carbon dioxide to produce and secrete fatty acids for direct production of biofuels without major production of biomass.

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A glimpse into the future of algae

View Source | May 11, 2016

summerfeld_and_algae-5One of the nation’s top experts on algae, ASU sustainability scientist Milton Sommerfeld, has spent half of a century exploring the possibilities of the plant as a super food, fuel, fertilizer and more.

Sommerfeld – co-director of the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation at ASU's Polytechnic campus – explains that there are roughly 75,000 different types of algae, and that certain strains are more optimal for given uses than others.

According to Sommerfeld, the most immediate impact from algae will be in bioremediation – a waste management technique that uses organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants from a contaminated site. He expects commercial algal biofuels further down the line, as production will require scaling the small cultivation operations of the present to an industrial level.

Profitable agriculture through recovered energy, nutrients and solids

May 2, 2016

J06088 Lightworks BIFOLD 1 PDFP1Currently, organic waste management in agriculture presents huge economic and environmental problems. These problems include regulatory risk, the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus, water and air pollution, and the lack of investment in anaerobic digestion. However, ASU researchers led by Bruce Rittmann are developing innovative systems to convert organic wastes into high-value products. These products can lead to improving employment and economic development in rural areas, and turn a liability into profit.

Rittmann and his team are developing smart, interconnected systems that synergistically produce renewable and high-value energy, fertilizers and soil amendments from organic wastes. They aim to increase profits for farmers by converting and recycling organic wastes into an assortment of value-added products.

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