As climate change risks and global human population grow, we need to design sustainable buildings that are closely tied to nature to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously improving health outcomes. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens views humans and ecosystems as inextricably connected, rather than separate, and demonstrates how technology and building design can maximize both human and environmental health.
Electricity Generation Research Posters
Adapting Agricultural Anaerobic Digestion to Human Behavior: Factors of Adoption in Pennsylvania and Beyond
Recent federal policy changes have allowed captured methane from anaerobic digesters (AD) to help ethanol meet the Renewable Fuel Standard’s national goals. Agriculture generates almost a tenth of US carbon emissions, and agricultural AD has emission reduction potential far greater than ethanol, especially when the biogas generated is upgraded to Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) for pipeline injection or vehicle use.
Many institutions want to eliminate their contribution to climate change, but not all are critically evaluating the actual climate impact of their actions. Well intentioned organizations risk falling into a trap of thinking they are making a difference by purchasing financial instruments, such as carbon credits, with unclear climate impacts.
The need for sustainable buildings is urgent, yet most technologies for improving the efficiency of buildings, cities and infrastructure fail to achieve significant deployment in the market. We are not implementing green solutions fast enough to meet sustainability goals. Why?
Apples to Energy: Achieving Pittsburgh, PA's Climate Action Goals Using Food Waste as a Feedstock for Anaerobic Digestion
Anaerobic digestion utilizes biomass feedstocks from farms, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), landfills, and municipalities to generate biogas, which contains methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Because methane has ~34x the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide, it is necessary to manage the methane produced through anaerobic digestion by harnessing the gas for energy as heat and electricity.
Assessment of Potential Human Health Consequences Associated with Processing and Handling of Switchgrass Biomass for Bio-Based Products
In an expanding, regenerative bio-based economy, the role of cheap, low impact lignocellulosic switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) biomass is that of a steady energy source, as we make the transition from fossil fuels to wind and solar power. However epidemiological studies have linked worker exposure to high concentrations of bioaerosols when handling and processing biomass in a biofuel plant.
Penn State is leading the emerging research field of energy storage with the Battery and Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Center. The BEST Center was formed in 2011 to bring together the campus-wide expertise in energy storage, foster collaboration, and provide a focal point for research and education activities. The expertise of Penn State researchers within the BEST Center spans from materials to cells to systems.
Anaerobic digestion is the process in which biological material is naturally broken down by bacteria in an oxygen deprived environment to produce a biogas composed of 55% - 70% methane and 30%-45% carbon dioxide (CO 2 ). Through a cleaning process, the methane can be extracted and hold properties similar to natural gas; referred to as biomethane. This creates the potential for injection of biomethane into the existing natural gas pipeline.
Renewable energy is becoming a more mainstream source of electricity that combats climate change with clean energy. Though many difficulties arise with implementation, the storage of such energy which would be essential still needs to be developed. Lithium ion batteries are a growing source of energy storage in homes.
Human behavior is at the core of many of the world's greatest environmental threats and climate change is no exception. Project Drawdown’s seminal list of 80 global climate solutions contains 30 in which individual and household behavior changes play a significant role. The United States is one of the highest-emitting countries of greenhouse gases and studies show that individual behavior contributes significantly to these emissions.
Climate change affects every aspect of our world, from human health and the ecosystems we live in to the ways we support ourselves both materially and emotionally. But the siloed world of higher education can make it difficult to present cross-cutting solutions to climate change in the classroom.
Climate change is a phenomenon that has major implications across our entire plant. Within just the continent of Africa, The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “presented strong evidence that surface temperatures across Africa have increased by 0.5-2°C over the past 100 years, and from 1950 onward climate change has changed the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events” (Kenya NCCAP 2018-2022, 2018).
Anaerobic digestion is a method of biomass degradation via microbial activity in the absence of oxygen. This process creates useful products like digested solids, which can be used as fertilizer, and biogas, which can be upgraded to produce renewable natural gas. Lignocellulosic materials, like grasses, woody materials, and agricultural residues are favored for this process due to their affordability and availability.
The motivation of this research project was to design curriculum for an interdisciplinary and inclusive wind energy course, which would prepare students to attend the U.S. Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC). The CWC is attended by Penn State students every year and allows for many personal and professional development opportunities. A student wind energy club already exists at Penn State, but the gender diversity has historically trailed off throughout the year.
In the midst of a climate crisis, it is imperative that Penn State as an institution educates students to be aware and critical of the context and impact of their professional work. This means rooting the College of Engineering curriculum in sustainability and ethics. To accomplish this, we have developed wind energy curriculum for Penn State’s First Year Engineering Seminars (FYS).
The current state of the national power grid does not accommodate for the rapid growth of energy demand. In order to better meet this demand, the Department of Energy aims to implement a microgrid system, which incorporates both renewable energy sources and energy storage devices in localized areas.
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) opened in 2009 with the construction of our EcoMachine, a natural wastewater reclamation facility designed in partnership with acclaimed biologist, John Todd. As the world’s first LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certified project, the center receives thousands of visitors and many school groups each year. In 2018 we worked with Project Drawdown to produce the first Drawdown Learn Conference.
Gas turbine engines play a key role in power generation and aircraft transportation across the globe. As a result, emission reduction targets proposed through Project Drawdown include gas turbines as a necessary constituent.
Nowadays, energy consumption is dominated by fossil fuels. This situation leads to a large number of environmental problems intensifying climate change and human health risks. Scenario analysis through modeling can help design less-pollutant energy strategies.
All devices signal fidelity, range and power consumption are linked to the quality of the transmitting and receiving antenna hardware. With advent of 5G, CubeSat constellations and increasingly autonomous machines, the architecture and impact on electrical grid/power choices are growing increasingly complex. Autonomous Cargo Ships, Logging Equipment, Farm Tractors, Trucks, Planes and Cars are now in use.
Engineers develop advanced technology that benefits society. Engineers’ ethics focus on human well-being, health, and safety that are essential to provide an improved quality life for individuals, society, and our planet. Climate change is a societal issue that encompasses these three ethical focuses. Therefore, climate change topics should be included in the engineering students’ curriculum.
Environmental Prospects of Carbon Dioxide Sequestration and Utilization in Pennsylvania’s Industrial and Agricultural Sectors
To achieve future climate goals, reducing carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) levels in the atmosphere is imperative as this greenhouse gas (GHG) amplifies and accelerates global warming, causing disruption in all ecosystems. According to Project Drawdown, the power sector is the largest emitter of GHGs, contributing approximately 40% of total annual GHG emissions.
Estimating Energy Savings and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction through Substitution of Penn State Harrisburg's Water Source
Project Drawdown highlighted the energy required to distribute water from a source to the people and noted that improvements to the water distribution system could reduce this energy. Rainwater and condensate harvesting, e.g., replacing non-potable use water from a distant treatment plant with locally harvested rainwater or condensate, has the potential the energy required for treating water and pumping it to the campus.
As we move towards a global population of 9 billion + with our urban areas hosting most of the planets people, the need to be creative in providing quality food in a responsible way is ever greater.
From Food to Power in Pittsburgh: A Financial and Policy Analysis of Industrial Food Waste as an Anaerobic Digester Feedstock
Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a process under which microorganisms break down organic matter to create biogas. Biogas, composed of 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide, can be used to generate electricity, heat, or compressed for vehicle fuel. This process prevents methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas with roughly 23-34 times more heating potential than carbon dioxide, through the decomposition process.
Live Entertainment Production, including Sports, Concerts and Theatre are resource intensive. Live events demand purpose built stadiums, theatres and substantial infrastructure investments. These investments impact utilities, transportation, parking/stormwater and facility maintenance. There are also short term scenic elements purpose built for single shows. The Broadway Green Alliance is dedicated to reducing the overall environmental footprint of live production.
Indiana Drawdown is inspired by Georgia Drawdown and others. It's grassroots and modeled after the opensource software movement. It values radical transparency and participation. Our main goal is to reduce Indiana's emissions 45% by 2030, as the IPCC says we must.
We've identified 200 entities already implementing Drawdown solutions in Indiana. Most don't know about Drawdown or how impactful their work is regarding climate change.
Engineering Design 100 (EDSGN 100) is the cornerstone course taken by nearly all first-year Penn State engineering students. One of the course’s emphases is the importance of systems thinking in the engineering design process.
Investigating the Impact of Green Roofing Carbon Sequestration with GHG Emissions in Structural Reinforcement Production
In order to achieve proper carbon sequestration, it is estimated by Project Drawdown that as much as thirty percent of worldwide roofing area (136B Sq. ft.) be converted to green roofing. In newly built structures, green roofing is accounted for before construction by reinforcing the structural design of the building. However, in order to achieve thirty percent green roofing space worldwide, it is necessary to convert older structures as well.
Improving the reliability and efficiency of microgrids to handle diverse load types will lead to more dependable electrical grids in small communities, which can reduce costs, for both consumers and utility companies, and reduce carbon emissions by decreasing reliance on traditional energy sources, such as burning coal.
Regenerate Lancaster is a collective of co-working individuals launching a Drawdown plan for Lancaster County, PA. Grounded in sustainability as a regenerative project for communities, economies, and ecologies (cf. Lovins, Wallis, Wijkman & Fullerton 2018; Raworth 2018; Rodale Institute; UN SDGs), we are identifying the twenty-five most relevant solutions for our place, connecting organizations to act on these solutions, and nurturing the initiatives we seed within our community.
Aircraft propulsion belongs to a critical industrial segment with the blades inside the gas turbines representing one of the most aggressive applications of high-temperature materials. Traditionally, turbine blades are manufactured using conventional methods, such as investment casting. However, investment casting, especially single crystal (SX) casting, is expensive and consumes a high amount of energy.
Millersville University of Pennsylvania recently constructed a $7.5 million, 14,600 square-foot campus building that is currently undergoing review for Net-Zero Energy certification. The Lombardo Center houses the Admissions, Marketing, and Residence staff, and is also a Welcome Center with an educational focus.
Mirrors for Earth’s Energy Rebalancing (MEER:ReflEction): Resource-Driven Engineering Leveraging Earth’s Chemistries to Immediately Offer Remediation
Anthropogenic aerosols and greenhouse gases (GHG) enter the atmosphere as peoples exercise their unalienable rights in pursuit of well-being and prosperity. Once airborne, the aerosols cool the Earth almost as much as co-emitted GHG warm it. This balancing act has masked an additional 1C of warming, should the aerosols disappear when phasing out the fossil fuels without compensatory solar radiation management. In this scenario, existing knowledge about ecosystem responses project a probabl
Solar photovoltaic(PV) performance models have been instrumental in the renewable energy sector as they can predict annual and lifetime energy yields of a given PV system and location. Current models used in the residential/rooftop scale are based on commercially available silicon solar panels. New performance models must be developed for emerging PV cell technologies as they become commercially viable over the next decade.
On-Site Application of ATP's CRBBP Process to Reduce the Adverse Environmental Impacts of Power Plants
I would like to inform you about the latest application of our recently-patented Combined Remediation Biomass and Bio-Product Production (CRBBP) Process, on-site, at coal-fired power plants, to cost-effectively reduce their adverse environmental impacts.
Photovoltaic solar cells are an eco-friendly source of energy. The key challenge in photovoltaics is to deliver high conversion efficiency at low cost. Thin-film solar cells are a promising alternative to wafer-based crystalline silicon solar cells with significantly reduced material consumption and the promise of reduced manufacturing cost.
As the second largest contributor to GHG emissions, the U.S. has a responsibility to curb its energy usage. American college and university campuses are as big as small cities, yet they act like large retail electricity consumers that wield control over their energy sources. Campus administrators can now choose renewable energy that is cost-effective. Already more than 150 colleges and universities in the U.S.
Podcasts have become popular as an educational tool in recent years, but there is still a lack of podcasts that focus on climate change, specifically ones that address efforts to reverse global warming in Pennsylvania. The goal of this project is to create a series of audio files that address the Project Drawdown solutions in Pennsylvania.
Energy efficiency has long been heralded as one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Yet despite being a good financial investment, the practice of using smart networks of piezoelectric sensors on factory floors is rarely connected to sustainability. Known as preventative maintenance, these easy steps are well known to reduce energy demand and extend the lifespan of industrial equipment – factors with significant emissions costs.
Portland cement concrete is the most widely used human-made material and makes up approximately 40% by mass of everything we produce. At the same time, it is responsible for 5 to 10% of the global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Portland cement, the most critical ingredient of concrete, is made of the most available elements in Earth’s continental crust, as well as in other terrestrial planets.
Reduction in PM2.5-associated Health Care Costs as Incentive for Healthcare Sector Advocacy for Climate Policy
The nature and extent of adverse health outcomes exacerbated by the climate crisis are firmly established. The scientific community has consistently appealed to the healthcare sector to intervene on climate change for the benefit of population health, but also because of the sizeable percentage of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributed to the healthcare system and the significant lobbying power of hospitals and insurers.
This research modeled and analyzed the total change in CO 2 emissions of a medium sized commercial office building under varying weather conditions, solar energy levels, and subject to optimal control of HVAC systems.
Social-Economic Assessment of Products from Valorized Faecal Sludge in Johannesburg Metropolis: Case Study of Wits University Campus and its Environs
Faecal valorization is the process of transforming human faecal sludge into useful products such as fertilizer, animal feed and combustibles. It is a viable solution to the issue of inadequate sanitation because it incentives investment in sanitation systems. Additionally, it is associated with economic and environmental benefits.
This poster will discuss a climate education project sponsored by the Bard Center for Environmental Policy that, on April 8, 2020, will sponsor 52 simultaneous, university-hosted, state level webinars focused on the top 3 policy actions needed in each state to drive climate solutions.
Reliable energy production is of significant importance worldwide. Multiple communities depend on accessible and sustainable energy resources for their continued well being. In the current climate crisis, it is crucial that alternative renewable energy sources be identified and made logistically feasible given policy and economic parameters at a global, national, and regional scale.
The Pennsylvania State University is updating engineering first-year seminars (FYS) to include ethics and humanities by incorporating more sustainability and human rights concepts. My research with Penn State’s Drawdown centered around creating new curriculum for Penn State FYS that incorporates the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2017, Switzerland ratified the Paris agreement and committed to reduce its carbon emissions by half by 2030 (from 1990 levels), including carbon offsets abroad. Switzerland also announced an indicative objective to reduce its emissions by 70%-85% until 2050 (from 1990 emissions), including offsets abroad. Studies that describe the existing solutions, their combined potential and the possible pathways to achieve such objectives are uncommon.
Over the last decade, culminating in the Paris Agreement, international climate diplomacy has shifted from strategies that emphasize centralized global cooperation toward decentralized modes of action where states, provinces, cities, firms and other subnational actors lead the way. However, the economic costs of this decentralized approach to policy remain unknown and most economic analysis has emphasized the superiority of uniform global approaches to climate policy.
As climate change threatens to dramatically change the global landscape, the negative human impact on the environment must be reduced. Electricity production, through the burning of fossil fuels, is a major contributor to human-induced climate. This situation along with increasing energy demands motivates a massive shift to alternative carbon-free energy sources.
In the IPCC’s Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 °C (2018), biochar was listed as one of several promising negative emissions technologies (NET).
The Pathways Project: Local Planning and Federal Support for Low Carbon Infrastructure in the United States
2020 is shaping up to be a watershed moment for climate policy in the United States. The Green New Deal proposal has reopened the national conversation about infrastructure and climate change, and galvanized support in some important constituencies. It also raises a key dynamic for climate action, namely the interaction of local action and federal policy.
California’s public policy efforts to incentivize the expansion of solar rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems in the California wholesale electricity market have led to a tripling of PV capacity between 2013 and 2017 (CAISOMM, 2016). However, this unprecedented expansion has contributed to significant network congestion, entailing significant economic costs and affecting greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel generation technologies that PV generation is expected to displace.
Anaerobic digestion is a process that harnesses the metabolic potential of bacteria to produce methane from biomass, like crop residues and manure. This methane can be compressed further to produce heat, electricity, or fuel. Biogas production via anaerobic digestion can be used as an alternative for fossil fuels and has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.