Green research at a glance
- March 27, 2009
Here’s a quick look at other energy research projects under way at Virginia universities:
College of William & Mary — William & Mary and Virginia Institute of Marine Science researchers are leading a collaboration to develop transportation fuels from algae, with an emphasis on production of automotive and aviation fuels. Also, Applied Science Department researchers have developed materials and methods for production of solid-oxide fuel cells and supercapacitors that could be used in electric vehicles.
George Mason University — Department of Chemistry researchers are investigating the viability of biofuels as a replacement for diesel fuels for ground and marine transportation.
James Madison University — As a member of the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, JMU is studying the benefits and challenges of developing energy derived from offshore wind, waves and marine biomass. In addition, a division in the Integrated Science and Technology Department is researching improved biofuel processing strategies, algal biodiesel utilizing exhaust carbon dioxide and the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural and municipal solid waste.
Old Dominion University — In conjunction with the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, ODU researchers have developed an algae-growing farm and biodiesel production facility. They are trying to determine the most effective means to grow and harvest algae and the most efficient way to convert it to biodiesel. (See page 29)
University of Virginia — Among many green-research projects at U.Va. is an investigation of the interaction of sunlight and matter at the nanoscale level (one-billionth of a meter). Researchers hope to better understand charge generation, transfer and transport in hopes of eventually creating photovoltaic cells that are more efficient across a wider bandwidth and easier to manufacture.
Virginia Commonwealth University — Researchers in the School of Engineering are working to develop polymer-based solar cells and renewable energy options from cellulose; are researching ways to lower the cost of a superhydrophobic (extremely repellent to water) coating that can reduce drag in vehicles to improve energy efficiency; and engineering a super strain of geobacteria to make it produce more electricity for microbial fuel cells.
Virginia Tech —Virginia Tech researchers are involved in a wide range of energy research, from energy economics and policy to improving fossil-fuel technologies and developing alternative fuels. Examples of research projects include: converting switchgrass and other native perennials into biofuel; developing hydrogen fuel cells; demonstrating the production, collection and concentration of biomass for future biorefineries; and preparing new types of nuclear fuel pellets from stockpiles of depleted nuclear pellet wastes using a high-temperature microwave method.