Sustainability Initiatives at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
December 10, 2012
Ameesha Mehta-Sampath M.PH., LEED-AP Asthma Projects Coordinator US EPA Region 2
Abstract & Bio: to come
Residential- and farm-scale hydro: power, energy, and economics relative to small wind and solar photovoltaics
November 20, 2013
Dr. Philip V. Hofmeyer, Assistant Professor, Renewable Energy; Instructor, Renewable Energy Training Center
Morrisville State College, Morrisville, NY
Abstract: Micro hydroelectricity at the residential scale is poorly understood by the general public as an effective means of producing sustainable energy behind the meter with a small ecological and economical footprint. This discussion will provide an overview of resource assessment, power and energy estimation, available turbines, economics, environmental permitting, and lessons learned. Annual energy output and grid-interactive energy costs of micro hydro systems will be compared to similarly scaled wind and solar PV systems.
Bio: Philip Hofmeyer has a M.S. degree in Natural Resources Management from SUNY-ESF and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Silviculture from the University of Maine. With the hopes of living off-grid, Phil studied small wind, solar PV, and solar thermal system design out of interest. Though his research is still in plant and forest ecology, he now teaches courses on solar PV, solar thermal, small wind, and micro hydro at Morrisville State College. He has taught micro hydro installation and design workshops in NY, PA, and VT for the past 4 years.
November 13, 2013
Prof. Jamie Winebrake
Dean, College of Liberal Arts, RIT
Abstract: Liquid fuel consumption by medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) represents 26 percent of all U.S. liquid transportation fuels and has increased more rapidly—in both absolute and percentage terms—than consumption by other sectors, and these trends are forecast to continue until 2035 (DOE, EIA, 2009). In early recognition of these trends, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-140—Dec. 19, 2007), Section 108, was passed, requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), for the first time in history, to establish fuel economy standards for MHDVs. In December 2009 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally declared that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger public health and the environment within the meaning of the Clean Air Act, a decision that compels EPA to consider establishing first-ever GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles, including MHDVs. If the United States is to reduce its reliance on foreign sources of oil , and reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector, it is important to consider how the fuel consumption of MHDVs can be reduced. Following on EISA, the National Research Council appointed the Committee to Assess Fuel Economy Technologies for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles. The committee considered approaches to measuring fuel economy (the committee uses fuel consumption), assessed current and future technologies for reducing fuel consumption, addressed how such technologies may be practically implemented in vehicles, discussed the pros and cons of approaches to improving the fuel efficiency of moving goods as opposed to setting vehicle fuel consumption standards, and identified potential costs and other impacts on the operation of MHDVs.
Bio: Prof. Winebrake currently serves as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at RIT. He works with the administration as well as the college’s faculty, staff and students to advance education and scholarship in the social sciences, humanities, and performing arts, while also promoting interdisciplinary initiatives across RIT’s nine colleges. Winebrake previously served as chair of RIT’s Department of Science, Technology and Society/Public Policy and has earned international recognition for his research on issues related to the environmental impacts of transportation, including health risk assessments of ocean-going vessels, total fuel-cycle analysis of alternative fuels, and cost-effectiveness of emissions reduction technologies and policies for trains, trucks and ships. He serves or has served on several National Academies of Science research committees, the New York State Energy Planning Board, and other professional boards related to energy and environmental policy and planning. In 2010, Dr. Winebrake was awarded the RIT Trustees Scholar Award in recognition of his scholarly contributions in the energy and environmental fields. He has also received numerous other research and teaching awards during his career, including the Madison Scholar Award and the Outstanding Teacher Award while serving as a faculty member at James Madison University in Virginia. Dr. Winebrake received his Ph.D. in energy management and policy from the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a B.S. in physics from Lafayette College and a M.S. in technology and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
November 8, 2013
Prof. Jeongmin Ahn
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Syracuse University
Abstract: A thermally self-sustaining miniature power generation device was developed utilizing a single-chamber solid-oxide-fuel-cell (SOFC) placed in a Swiss roll. With the single-chamber design, fuel/oxygen crossover due to cracking of seals via thermal cycling is irrelevant and coking on the anode is practically prohibited. SOFC power densities up to 420 mW/cm2 were observed at low Re. These results suggest that single-chamber SOFC's integrated with heat-recirculating reactors may be a viable approach for microscale power generation devices. Direct Jet-A SOFC was developed and tested by using new coke resistant and sulfur tolerant catalysts. This concept could replace existing low efficient turbine powered APU for the future More Electric Aircraft (MEA) that will be cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient. A no-chamber SOFC, which is also called flame-fuel-cell (FFC), that operated on a flame was also developed. Heat produced from a flame thermally sustained the fuel cell and considerable amounts of hydrogen and carbon monoxide were also produced during the fuel-rich combustion directly providing the fuels for the fuel cell. By developing an anode-supported SOFC, the fuel cell envisaged not only an increase of the peak power density but also in a significant improvement of the thermal shock resistance. The FFCs could be easily placed into the three-way converter or exhaust pipes of furnaces of buildings, automobiles, or even airplanes to remove partially combusted gas away from the exhaust stream, suggesting its potential benefit in both thermal efficiency and lower emissions.
Bio: Prof. Jeongmin Ahn is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University. Prof. Ahn held a position as an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University before assuming his current position at SU. He received a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from University of Southern California. Previously he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. His research is primarily in combustion, power generation, propulsion and thermal management, with recent emphasis on miniature combustion systems and advanced energy conversion systems. He performed an experimental investigation of catalytic and non-catalytic combustion in heat recirculating combustors, fuel cells: fabrication, test and characterization of all types of Solid-Oxide-Fuel-Cells (SOFCs) (dual-chamber, single-chamber and no-chamber, which is also called as a flame-assisted fuel cell), micro heat engines, thermoacoustic engines, and thermal transpiration based propulsion and power generation. Prof. Ahn has published over 20 articles in peer-reviewed journals (including Nature and other high impact journals) and books, and made over 100 technical presentations on his research work, including over 20 invited seminars in Korea, Japan, China, Germany, and United States. He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and astronautics (AIAA), a Board of the Combustion Institute, and the recipient of numerous honors including the Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, and Awards from SU and WSU for Service and Education Excellence.
October 30, 2013
Dr. Alison Elder, Department of Environmental Medicine
University of Rochester
The consistent findings that particulate matter exposure is causally associated with the adverse cardiopulmonary health effects of ambient air pollution have prompted a number of mechanistic explanations, including the generation of inflammatory mediators by lung tissue that then travel to other organ systems, the activation of autonomic nervous system responses, and the delivery of respiratory tract-deposited material to other tissues via solid particle (translocation) or solute transport. The deposition of inhaled particles is dependent upon size, but nanoscale particles (<100 nm in diameter, also ultrafine particles) deposit with high efficiency in all regions of the respiratory tract. Studies with very poorly-soluble nanoscale particles demonstrated translocation to distal tissues (e.g., liver, brain) and a dependence on particle size, with smaller particles accumulating to a greater extent, albeit at a small fraction of applied dose. It was hypothesized that brain accumulation could be explained by solid particle transported via the olfactory nerve. A reasonable question, though, is whether or not there are adverse consequences of such accumulation, such as local inflammation or the induction or exacerbation of neurodegenerative processes. Using poorly-soluble nanoscale Mn oxide particles, it was found that markers of oxidative stress and inflammatory cell activation were elevated in the same regions of the brain where Mn accumulated following whole-body inhalation exposure in rats. Using a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), it was also demonstrated that exposure led to an increased expression of microglial and astrocyte activation markers in the hippocampus and that effects persisted for two months post-exposure. In addition, there were marked elevations in amyloid -42 protein and decreases in synaptophysin staining. Similar studies were done using concentrated ambient ultrafine particles. These studies showed that inflammatory gene expression was elevated in brain in response to inhaled ambient ultrafine particles and that such elevation was more pronounced in the transgenic AD mice as compared to non-transgenic mice. Furthermore, when bioactivity was blocked, microglial activation was dampened. Taken collectively, the findings from these studies suggest that inhaled particles can be transported to the central nervous system and that they can elicit tissue responses that could contribute to the progression of pathology in those regions where accumulation occurs.
Bio: Alison Elder, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester, is an inhalation toxicologist with research interests that include the pulmonary, cardiovascular, and central nervous system inflammatory and oxidative stress-related effects of engineered nanomaterials and ambient air particulate matter and the physicochemical properties of the particles that are linked to response outcomes. Particle biokinetics and the impacts of age and other underlying vulnerabilities on response are also of interest. Dr. Elder has authored numerous research papers in the field, as well as review articles and book chapters. She is an editorial board member for four journals and is deputy Editor-in-Chief of Nanotoxicology. She also serves on the Threshold Limit Value-Chemical Substances committee of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
October 24, 2013
Challenge for Change
Abstract: After 11 years of designing behaviour change programmes to encourage sustainable transport, Challenge for Change thought it was time to take a fresh look at how we apply behaviour change theory and tools to encouraging cycling. Starting with a clean sheet of paper, they have carried out an analysis of how behaviour change theory and tools, both old and new, can be creatively applied to getting more people cycling. This presentation will give an overview of this new behaviour change framework. A discussion will be had on how it could be applied to other sustainable and health behaviours, particular those effecting the RIT.
Bio: Thomas Stokell is a social marketeer specialising in cycling promotion. Originally from New Zealand, he started working on designing behaviour change programmes in 2001. He moved to the UK and set up 'Challenge for Change' in 2007. Thomas likes to play the piano and enjoys the outdoors. He is also a shameless promoter of New Zealand wine and would like you to know that Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc is quite delicious.
October 23, 2013
Dr. Sanwal Sarraf
Abstract: Adoption of LED Lighting is growing, not just for energy savings but also for a number of compelling performance attributes. The presentation will address: What is an LED Lighting System? Why is the adoption growing? What are the remaining barriers for accelerated adoption? Some of the untapped opportunities of this Digital Lighting System surface.
Bio Sanwal Sarraf is CEO of of Lumentek Global. Prior to starting Lumentek Global, Sanwal was CEO of Brite Lite, a LED Lighting company he co-founded. Sanwal has held various senior executive and leadership positions in private and Fortune 100 companies that include, President of RPC Photonics, Corporate Officer and Vice President at Whirlpool Corp. in charge of Innovation and Technology, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President at Brady Corp in charge of new product development and new business development, General Manager and Vice President at JDS Uniphase responsible for the Global Optical Components and Networking business, General Manager and Vice President at Eastman Kodak Co. responsible for managing the Digital Printing and Publishing business. Prior to joining Kodak, Sanwal was on the faculty at the Pennsylvania State University. Sanwal earned his doctoral degree in Laser Engineering from the University of Rochester. His educational background includes PE certification and Executive Management Programs at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and Columbia University. Sanwal holds 32 patents and was inducted into the “Distinguished Inventors Gallery” at Kodak. He has published in major scientific and technical journals and is the recipient of several leadership awards.
October 11, 2013
Dr. Mike Griffin, Engineering and Public Policy
Abstract: Natural gas production is expected to play an important role in the US energy mix for years to come and has been touted as a bridge fuel to a low carbon future. Increased use of any energy source comes with trade-offs. While natural gas can replace coal for electricity generation, serve as an important feedstock for chemicals production, and possibly become an important transportation fuel, there are a number of well-known potential environmental impacts associated with its production, particularly for gas produced from shale, e.g., water use, water quality degradation, land use impacts, and fugitive methane emissions. This talk will explore some of these important environmental issues related to this shale gas production (estimates of greenhouse gas emissions), its impact of carbon emissions reductions using a simple climate model, and explore the implications of the increased use for electricity generation (potential emissions savings under various scenarios of cost and plant retirement).
Bio: W. Michael Griffin is the Co- Director and the Executive Director of Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He also serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Climate, Energy and Decision Making. Mike is an Associate Research Professor in Engineering and Public Policy. He has previously held multiple positions at British Petroleum where he directed a technical services group for both upstream and downstream operations dedicated to water handling and treatment and microbial corrosion mitigation. He was the Director of Research and Development for Sybron Chemicals where his group provided research and technical support for chemicals production and bioremediation efforts. He later became the Director of Research at the National Environmental Technology Application Corporation and provided technical evaluation of environmental technologies for business and government. His current research and teaching interests centers on the analysis of the environmental impacts of energy development. Recently with collaboration of colleagues at CMU he has extended this work to address the impacts of adopting renewable alternative fuels focusing on infrastructure requirements, “best use” of non-renewable resources, and addressing uncertainty in life cycle assessment. His education includes a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from the University of Dayton and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Rhode Island.
Making an Oxymoron into an Interdisciplinary Field: The Origins and Prospects for Industrial Ecology
October 4, 2013
Prof. Reid Lifset
Abstract: The field of industrial ecology emerged in the early 1990s as part of a search for frameworks for environmental science & engineering, policy and management that were more systems-oriented and more forward-looking. Industrial ecology builds on a metaphor of natural ecological phenomena to analyze and develop tools and prescriptions for industrial systems that are, for the most part, larger than a single firm. The normative goal is to optimize resource efficiencies and close material loops within this more encompassing system boundary as part of the pursuit of sustainable production and consumption. Industrial ecology has developed signature tools and concepts—life cycle assessment, material flow analysis, loop-closing and the circular economy, and industrial symbiosis—that have become part of the lexicon of environmental discourse and analysis. This talk will describe the origins of industrial ecology (including its oxymoronic name), its core elements and accomplishments, and its prospects for the future.
Bio: Reid Lifset’s research and teaching focus on the emerging field of industrial ecology, the study of the environmental consequences of production and consumption. He is a Resident Fellow in Industrial Ecology and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, an international peer-reviewed bimonthly headquartered at and owned by Yale University and published by Wiley-Blackwell. In addition, he is associate director of the Industrial Environmental Management Program. Mr. Lifset’s research focuses on the application of industrial ecology to novel problems and research areas and the evolution of extended producer responsibility (EPR). He also investigates the global life cycle of metals. He is a member of the governing council of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) and the editorial advisory board for the Springer book series on Eco-efficiency in Industry & Science. He did his graduate work in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in management at Yale University.
Note: An archive of past GIS seminars and workshops is available here.