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Sustainability News

Student Career Fair Veteran Research Spotlight

LightWorks News

March 5, 2018

In February, the NEPTUNE project – an Office of Naval Research funded project focused on energy research, dynamic learning and engagement with the military service – along with ASU LightWorks® coordinated the first-ever veteran-focused addition to ASU’s spring 2018 University-Wide Career & Internship Fair. This was an opportunity to get an inside look at faculty and NEPTUNE’s student veteran research in the areas of microgrids, cybersecurity, and technology. It provided an opportunity for corporations and NGOs to connect with the veteran population in the ASU community.

“Supporting research that targets key military and national energy challenges is a vital component of ONR’s mission, driving technology advancements...However, creating a culture of energy innovation requires a parallel professional development effort to implement such advancements." - Dr. Richard Carlin, head of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department.

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Bringing stable power to the most remote communities

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

February 22, 2018

As many as 1.3 billion people lack access to electrical power, according to Senior Sustainability Scientist Nathan Johnson. That's why the ASU engineer – who directs the Laboratory for Energy And Power Solutions – is advancing technologies for electrical-grid modernization and off-grid electrification.

One of these solutions is the microgrid, which provides independent power generation and storage. Johnson and the LEAPS team are developing microgrids that are more technically and economically viable – easier to design, scale and transport. On top of providing the world's poorest and most remote communities with stable power, this technology can improve scenarios like disaster relief and medical care.

Johnson’s approach to military microgrids won a TechConnect Defense Innovation Award at the Defense Innovation Technology Acceleration Challenges Summit.


Sights and Sounds in February 2018

LightWorks News

February 13, 2018

ASU Microgrid Tour

Arizona State University workforce development programs for solar PV and microgrid technicians highlighted the Mobile Microgrid Training Platform for hands-on training in deployment, component integration, system operation, troubleshooting and maintenance.

Sustainability Solutions Celebration

The Sustainability Solutions Celebration brought together the business and academic worlds to celebrate young innovators who have reimagined global challenges to make the world a better place.

Building a New Carbon Economy: Strategies for Turning Waste Carbon from Liability to Asset

This workshop focused on companies who are developing strategies for turning waste carbon into a valuable and sustainable asset throughout their supply chains.

ASU Green Game

A zero waste game, the excitement intensified with an 80 – 78 win for ASU Men’s Basketball over UCLA. #GreenGameASU

Perspective on the New Carbon Economy

LightWorks News

January 31, 2018

The economic and industrial developments that were fueled by the industrial revolution have made nations more productive than ever before and brought in significant social and lifestyle changes. However, they have also added approximately 2 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the earth’s atmosphere. Even though the presence of CO2 to such an extent in the atmosphere is a pressing environmental challenge, it provides an enormous market opportunity to transform waste carbon dioxide in the air into valuable products and services in a New Carbon Economy.

The New Carbon Economy, where carbon pollution is turned into materials and fuels that drive our daily lives, is the need of the hour in progressing towards a sustainable future that creates a strong, healthy and resilient environment for communities around the globe.

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Biodegradable plastics made from bacteria

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

January 9, 2018

By employing cyanobacteria – a photosynthesis-happy bug – Senior Sustainability Scientist Taylor Weiss is making environmentally-friendly bioplastics that dissolve in a matter of months.

Weiss achieves this by creating a symbiotic partnership between two bacteria, each specializing in a specific task. He recently joined ASU’s Polytechnic campus, where he is scaling up the process at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation.

"Bringing all these elements together and in real-world conditions at large scales needs to be done," Weiss said. "Fortunately, we have a one-of-a-kind academic test bed facility here at AzCATI that is uniquely suited to answer the remaining production questions and push development of the technology."


Direct air capture of CO2 engineered design

Uncategorized LightWorks News

December 16, 2017

The world can no longer postulate a scenario that maintains global temperature rise at or below 4 degrees C, without significant removal of existing CO2 from the air. Based on the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere (over 406 ppm) and the steady increase in CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, even the best possible efforts at reduction will fail to achieve a halt to warming at or below 4 degrees C.

The climate change crisis is so far advanced that even drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions won’t prevent a convulsive future by itself — the amount of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere ensures dire trouble ahead.  A forward-looking calculation might postulate a need to return to 350 ppm and acknowledge that by 2040 we will be at 450 ppm.

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Can carbon-dioxide removal save the world?

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

November 20, 2017

Carbon-dioxide removal could be a trillion-dollar enterprise because it not only slows the rise in CO2 but reverses it.

Many companies are vying to prove that carbon removal is feasible, but also owe their origins to the ideas of a physicist and sustainability scientist named Klaus Lackner, who now works at Arizona State University.

Featured in The New Yorker, this article chronicles the journey that led Klaus to found the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions.


From #COP23: Why does carbon pricing matter?

LightWorks News

November 16, 2017

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development and ASU LightWorks® believe that carbon pricing is one of the most efficient means of driving the transition to a low-carbon world. As an increasing number of jurisdictions have adopted – or are considering adopting – carbon pricing, a recent document by the WBCSD focuses on the “what” and “how” rather than the “why.”

The WBCSD released the document in hopes of stimulating discussions between policymakers and business leaders on how best to implement the carbon price so that it can incentivize low-carbon innovation and investment, create a global level playing field and support the attainment of the UNFCCC 2°C goal in a sustainable way.

In summary, carbon pricing is a monetary cost put on the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It must be implemented by governments through legislation. Despite significant progress made with the Paris Agreement, the need to bring emissions to net-zero later this century is not yet reflected in the overall transition picture.

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Accelerating biomass technologies to create energy and materials

LightWorks News

October 24, 2017

By 2040, worldwide energy consumption is projected to increase 28% from 2015. Also, fossil fuels will still account for 77% of energy use, according to the International Energy Outlook Report 2017. Now is the time to foster innovation in the renewable energy supply chain to satisfy this ever-increasing demand.

Biomass is one renewable energy source that is both abundant and cost-effective, which can significantly help meet our energy demands. Biomass can be any organic material obtained from agricultural resources, agricultural residues, forest resources, waste – including municipal solid waste, industrial wastes and other wastes – as well as algae. Biomass used as sustainable fuels and energy products has been proposed to combat climate change, and it can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Research led by scientists Reed Cartwright and Xuan Wang at Arizona State University aims to break through the innovation bottleneck for the renewable bioproduction of fuels and chemicals.

“My lab has been very interested in converting biomass such as agricultural wastes and even carbon dioxide into useful and renewable bio-based products,” said Wang, an assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences.

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Climate Geoengineering: GeoE Live

LightWorks News

October 23, 2017

In September, ASU's PlanetWorks hosted Climate Geoengineering: GeoE Live (#GeoElive), a live-streamed workshop exploring the potential promise and perils of climate invention strategies. Organized in partnership with the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, the Institute on Science for Global Policy and ASU LightWorks, #GeoElive focused on a variety of climate change solutions, economics and policies.

The half-day virtual workshop was streamed via Twitter, Facebook Live and YouTube Live, amassing thousands of viewers from 27 U.S. states and 44 countries. #GeoElive featured panels, interviews and podcasts, including one with ASU’s Dr. Klaus Lackner covering carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technology.

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New Carbon Economy Consortium: Building research programs to support 21st Century economic opportunity

ASU Sustainability News LightWorks News

September 26, 2017

Now is the time to map paths to the breakthrough research programs and forward-looking university-business partnerships that will serve as the hubs for this new carbon economy. This is an economy in which low-carbon industry and primary energy production are joined by industrial centers, agricultural regions and food-producing ecosystems that turn excess CO2 into consumer goods, fuels, building materials and fertile soil. With deliberate but ambitious planning, the United States and collaborators in other countries can develop the knowledge, technologies and human capital to catalyze the new carbon economy by 2040.

In June 2017, a one-day workshop was held at Arizona State University to begin mapping out the work of a consortium focused on creating a framework for the research programs necessary to support the new carbon economy. The workshop brought together experts from Arizona State University, the Center for Carbon Removal, Iowa State University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Purdue University.

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ASU undergraduate intern awarded by Idaho National Laboratory

LightWorks News

September 7, 2017

Brianna Fornes, an undergraduate at Arizona State University, was recently awarded Best Technical Presentation by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). This award highlights her work during a summer internship at Idaho National Laboratory. The goal of her project was to improve preservation of algal biomass by optimizing lactic acid fermentation. This is because algae biomass production varies throughout the year, making it necessary to store biomass until it can be processed.

“Interning at the INL was an inspiring experience. I was lucky enough to be working alongside some of the country's brightest scientists, who made themselves available to me for direction and advice," Fornes says of her achievement. "It was an honor to have the opportunity to make a contribution to the fantastic work being done at INL.

"I was already so proud to represent AzCATI and ERM and share the accomplishments we had achieved over the summer, so winning was just the cherry on top. Considering that I was one of very few undergraduates in the competition, being selected for best technical presentation solidified to me how much I had learned and grown during my time in Idaho. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.”

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ASU scientists inspire high school student across country

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

August 11, 2017

Albert Kyi is entering the 11th grade this fall at Grace Church High School in New York City, NY, and has demonstrated a passion for innovation and sustainability far beyond his age.

His desire to find solutions that address climate change started in 4th grade when he was part of a team that tried to cut down on the school’s energy usage. Since then, Kyi has been actively learning about technologies that reduce carbon emissions and the effects of climate change.

Kyi’s journey building a Direct Air Capture (DAC) machine began last year during 10th grade, when students were given a budget and six months to complete a big project. Kyi knew he wanted to do something related to climate change.

Inspired by his dean Mr. Reilly, who told his students to always “dream big,” Kyi wanted to create a technology that could slow down global warming. When he came across DAC technology through his online research, he knew it would be perfect for his project, so he contacted Dr. Klaus Lackner and Mr. Allen Wright.

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ASU researchers receive accolades for solar energy research

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

July 17, 2017

In 2017, ASU researchers received $4.3 million in Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Awards for their work with photovoltaics, making ASU the largest recipient of SunShot funding in the Photovoltaics Research category for the year.

The DOE's SunShot Intiative aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional methods, a goal that three senior sustainability scientists at the ASU Wrigley Institute are helping to achieve. Stuart Bowden is designing the M-Cell, a photovoltaic cell architecture to enable higher voltage and lower current. Meanwhile, Meng Tao is working to reduce processing expenses, improve reliability and maintain high efficiency for photovoltaic devices.

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Exploring opportunities for collaborative partnerships in Bulgaria

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

July 11, 2017

A team from Arizona State University, led by ASU Lightworks® Director Bill Brandt, wrapped up a week-long series of meetings with Bulgarian institutions in Sofia, Bulgaria. These meetings established collaborative partnerships around digital learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, environmental health and safety, circular economy and energy and sustainability.

“Arizona and Bulgaria share similarities in size and the importance of mining business to their economies," Brandt told reporters in Sofia. "We are excited by the opportunities we found to partner with Bulgaria's leading higher education and research institutions, including technological universities and business schools, the Naval Academy, Academy of Science and Sofia Tech Park, major industrial companies, municipalities and clusters to drive innovation and best practices.”

ASU has already started joint projects with partners in Romania and Kosovo.

Vision for rehabilitated watershed lands ASU team with award

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

June 18, 2017

Part 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'

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

June 5, 2017

Samson 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

LightWorks News

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®

LightWorks News

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

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

May 16, 2017

What’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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