OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

energy and sustainability

OSU spinoff company NuScale to receive up to $226 million to advance nuclear energy

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A promising new form of nuclear power that evolved in part from research more than a decade ago at Oregon State University today received a significant boost: up to $226 million in funding to NuScale Power from the United States Department of Energy.

NuScale began as a spinoff company based on the pioneering research of OSU professor Jose Reyes, and since has become one of the international leaders in the creation of small “modular” nuclear reactors.

This technology holds enormous promise for developing nuclear power with small reactors that can minimize investment costs, improve safety, be grouped as needed for power demands and produce energy without greenhouse gas emissions. The technology also provides opportunities for OSU nuclear engineering students who are learning about these newest concepts in nuclear power.

“This is a wonderful reflection of the value that OSU faculty can bring to our global economy,” said Rick Spinrad, vice president for research at OSU. “The research conducted by Professor Reyes, colleagues and students at OSU has been a fundamental component of the innovation at NuScale.”

NuScale has continued to grow and create jobs in Oregon, and is bringing closer to reality a nuclear concept that could revolutionize nuclear energy. The Obama administration has cited nuclear power as one part of its blueprint to rebuild the American economy while helping to address important environmental issues.

In the early 2000s at OSU, Reyes envisioned a nuclear power reactor that could be manufactured in a factory, be transported to wherever it was needed, grouped as necessary to provide the desired amount of power, and provide another option for nuclear energy. It also would incorporate “passive safety” concepts studied at OSU in the 1990s that are already being used in nuclear power plant construction around the world. The design allows the reactor to shut down automatically, if necessary, using natural forces including gravity and convection.

The Department of Energy announcement represents a milestone in OSU’s increasing commitment to university and business partnerships and its goals of using academic research discoveries to promote new industries, jobs, economic growth, environmental protection and public health.

“OSU has made a strong effort to build powerful partnerships between our research enterprise and the private sector,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “The DOE support for NuScale is a vote of confidence in the strategy of building these meaningful relationships, and they are only going to pick up speed with our newest initiative, the OSU Advantage.”

The Oregon State University Advantage connects business with faculty expertise, student talent and world-class facilities to provide research solutions and help bring ideas to market. This effort is in partnership with the Oregon State University Foundation.

News of the NuScale grant award was welcomed by members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation.

 

“Oregon State University deserves a lot of credit for helping to develop a promising new technology that the Energy Department clearly thinks holds a lot of potential,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Today’s award shows that investing in strong public universities leads to innovative technologies to address critical issues, like the need for low-carbon sources of energy, while creating private sector jobs.”

U.S. Rep. Peter De Fazio added, “Congratulations to NuScale and Oregon State University. This is a big win for the local economy.” 

“This is an exciting time for us, as our students and faculty get incredibly valuable real-world experience in taking an idea through the startup and commercialization process,” said Kathryn Higley, professor and head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering & Radiation Health Physics. “We continue to work with NuScale as it goes through its design certification process, and we are particularly proud of Jose Reyes for his vision, enthusiasm and unwavering commitment to this concept.”

OSU officials say the development of new technologies such as those launched from NuScale could have significant implications for future energy supplies.

“The nation’s investment in the research of small-scale nuclear devices is a significant step toward a diverse and secure energy portfolio,” said Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering at OSU. “Collaborative research is actively continuing between engineers and scientists at Oregon State and NuScale, and we’re proud and grateful for the role Oregon State plays in assisting them in developing cleaner and safer ways to produce energy.

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Rick Spinrad, 541-737-0662 or 541-220-1915 (cell)

Oregon State receives grant to reduce university food waste

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Materials Management program has awarded Oregon State University with a $27,372 grant to help the university reduce food waste by 10 percent at its Corvallis campus.

The money will be used to institute a new computer program in the dining halls called LeanPath. The system uses cutting-edge technology to track food waste by amount, type, cause and cost. The information can be used by staff to pinpoint where to make adjustments and prevent future waste. 

Portland-based LeanPath created technology for commercial kitchens including scales, cameras and a touchscreen user interface. LeanPath is used in universities, on cruise ships, and at other large scale operations. Data reveals where the company should adjust purchasing, production, menus and staff training to prevent waste in the future.

Chris Anderson with University Housing & Dining Services (UHDS) said it’s difficult to currently measure the university’s level of food waste from dining halls, but he estimates it to be between 200,000 and 250,000 pounds annually. The new technology is expected to allow UHDS to decrease expenditures on food purchases, reduce pick-ups of  organic waste by Republic Service, and reduce food donations to Linn-Benton Food Rescue.

Anderson said LeanPath will provide staff with a mechanism to weigh, photograph and report on all wasted food.

“LeanPath provides a tool to be able to pull reports and visuals that demonstrates wasted food very locally, like by each food-service platform per dining center, in units that can be equalized so that administrators and managers are able to evaluate and generate efficiencies through menu adjustments and operational changes,” Anderson said. “In the end it’s about bringing attention to wasted food and our opportunity to lessen our impact.” The equipment should be implemented by July 2018.

UHDS has worked towards reducing wasted food for decades. Among the changes to the traditional dining hall model were moving to an ala carte pricing structure that encourages customers to take what they intend to consume, providing tray-less service when applicable, partnering with the Linn-Benton Food Rescue and encouraging staff to cook items on demand. Anderson believes LeanPath will be a further step in that effort.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Dining Services to reflect on our practices, both positive and correctable, to have an impact that aligns well with our institutional values,” he said. “I’m looking forward to 18 months from now to see what happens.” 

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Christopher Anderson, 541-737-2885; chris.anderson@oregonstate.edu

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Bing's in Weatherford

$1 million NSF grant aids energy conservation research at Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University researcher has been awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Communities Program to continue and expand her work on household energy conservation interventions.

The project will be led by Hilary Boudet, an assistant professor of sociology who studies climate change and energy in the School of Public Policy in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts.

The goal of the three-year grant is to teach children, young adults and their families the value and importance of reducing their energy use and to use technology and data visualization techniques from engineering to better track and understand individuals’ energy use and conservation efforts.

“This project combines child- and youth-targeted interventions with data on energy behavior using the latest in ‘smart’ technology to monitor daily household energy use,” Boudet said. “Children are a critical constituency for energy-saving programs. When they adopt energy-saving behaviors at an early age, they are more likely to continue those behaviors as they grow up and move into adulthood.”

The research team also includes Ram Rajagopal, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, and Mahnoosh Alizadeh, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of California, Santa Barbara.

The researchers plan to tap into emerging technology, such as smart electrical meters and smart phone apps, to allow for a closer evaluation of participants’ energy use and highlight ways people may be able to conserve more.

“This will allow us to connect our intervention efforts to real energy data, so we can see where changes may be occurring,” Boudet said. “The level of detail we anticipate should give us new insights as to what works best to help people understand – and change – their own energy use.”

They also will test interventions designed to educate children, young adults and families about energy use and conservation; and determine whether the interventions and monitoring result in energy savings. Girl Scout troops, local high schools and a community college will participate in the project, named “Smart and Connected Kids for Sustainable Energy Communities.”

The program will be developed and tested in Fremont, California, where homes are already outfitted with “smart” electrical meters that closely monitor energy use and where researchers have an existing relationship with the Girl Scouts of Northern California. Other partners in the project include Chai Energy, the City of Fremont and Ohlone Community College. 

The project expands on Boudet’s previous energy intervention program, called Girls Learning Environment and Energy, or GLEE. In that project, Boudet and her team developed an energy conservation program for children that was tested with 30 Girl Scout troops and their parents in Northern California.

The children who participated in the program reported increases in energy-saving behaviors, such as turning off power strips at night and washing clothes in cold water, and the behavior continued for seven months after the trial program ended. They also found that the intervention had an effect on parents’ energy-saving behavior for more than eight months.

Boudet anticipates researchers will spend about a year refining the energy education program and developing evaluation procedures. The researchers will begin testing the program in the second year of the grant.

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Hilary Boudet, 541-737-5375, hilary.boudet@oregonstate.edu

Oregon State receives high “Cool School” ranking from Sierra Club

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Sierra Club has released its “Cool Schools” rankings based on the ‘greenness’ of participating universities, and Oregon State has the highest green ranking of any public college in the state (private college Lewis & Clark came in 5th). Oregon State is listed as 20th in the nation.

The Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the nation. The award honors more than 200 colleges that are helping to solve climate problems and making significant efforts to integrate sustainability into their teaching, research and engagement and to operate sustainably. Evaluations were based on survey information provided by the participating schools. The raw data for scoring came from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) STARS self-reporting tool, plus a supplemental question about fossil fuel investments.

Brandon Trelstad, sustainability officer for Oregon State, said that the university’s continued commitment to sustainability has led to a number of honors from national organizations over the years.

“We continue to prioritize our work to reduce our carbon footprint. Things like conserving energy and recycling and repurposing materials to keep them out of the landfill help support carbon emission reductions and offer numerous co-benefits,” Trelstad said. “I continue to consider myself lucky to do sustainability work at Oregon State and in the Pacific Northwest. Being green is part of OSU’s ethos, we consider ourselves good stewards of the planet and being a ‘Cool School’ highlights this work.”

The Sierra Club noted innovative research at OSU, calling out assistant professor Chad Higgins’ research into the impact on soil moisture from ground mounted solar panels, and the benefits of growing food there. Higgins’ preliminary findings indicated a co-benefit for the panels as well – cooler temperatures, which means more electricity production from the panels.

“Based on my casual summertime observations at our six-acre solar array,” Trelstad said, “it didn’t surprise me that the ground under panels might be good for some food crops. But I was elated to learn that growing crops could also increase solar production. This is the kind of synergy we look for in sustainability work; systems thinking and looking for co-benefits across those systems.”

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Brandon Trelstad, 541-737-3307; brandon.trelstad@oregonstate.edu

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solar

Solar panels at OSU

OSU President: University remains committed to addressing climate change

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray today reaffirmed the university’s unwavering commitment to address climate change.

Ray’s memo to faculty, staff and students was prompted by the Trump administration’s announcement last week that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.

“I want to assure the Oregon State University community that we remain steadfast in our resolve to advance our institution’s commitments toward the global challenge of climate change,” Ray wrote. “We are resolute in our work to reduce the institution’s carbon footprint; to pursue world-class research that improves knowledge and informs strategic actions; and to empower our students and communities through education and capacity building.”

Ten years ago – in April, 2007 – Ray signed what was then known as the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, now known as the Carbon Commitment. It set Oregon State on an ambitious path to reduce and ultimately eliminate the university’s planet-altering institutional carbon emissions. During the last decade, OSU has reduced its annual per-student carbon emissions 38 percent.

The university has no intention to reduce or defer its commitment to climate action; instead it must continue to invest to decrease emissions further, Ray wrote.

As a sun grant university, OSU is an international leader in research efforts to develop renewable and low-carbon sources of energy including wave, wind, nuclear and solar energy systems. For example, in December, OSU’s Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center was awarded up to $40 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to create the world’s premier wave energy test facility in Newport.

As the home of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, OSU also participates in a network of more than 150 researchers throughout the state, including partners in state and federal agencies, who are working to address many climate issues, including ocean acidification, rising sea levels and changes in water availability and quality.

Ray concluded his memo with these words: “Let me assure you that we are unwavering in our commitment to address climate change, one of the world’s most pressing issues. We will continue to be a strong partner and collaborate with other universities, cities, states, and key federal entities. With our collective and continued resolve in these efforts, I am confident that Oregon State will continue to be a leader in climate change research and sustainability to provide a healthy planet for all of us.”

To read Ray's full statement visit: http://bit.ly/2r3DN5T

Media Contact: 

Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787, sean.nealon@oregonstate.edu

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Annie Heck, 541-737-0790, annie.heck@oregonstate.edu

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Edward J. Ray

OSU President Ed Ray

OSU College of Science to host “The Colorful World of Pigments” on May 5

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will celebrate the blue pigment discovered at the university and its impact on art, culture and industry at an event called “The Colorful World of Pigments” scheduled for May 5 on OSU’s Corvallis campus.

Hosted by the College of Science, the event will include a discussion of color by a panel that will feature the pigment’s discoverer, Oregon State chemist Mas Subramanian; Christopher Manning of the Shepherd Color Company, OSU’s licensing partner for the pigment, named YInMn blue; a color theorist from Nike; and the curator of Harvard University’s 2,500-specimen Forbes Pigment Collection, a scientific catalog of color that includes YInMn blue. 

The Colorful World of Pigments is part of a series known as SPARK: The Year of Arts and Science at OSU. The series explores the intersections of art and science.

Running from 8 a.m. to noon at LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., the pigments event also includes an exhibit featuring artworks using YInMn blue, and a wall on which children can color and paint from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The panel discussion will go from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

At 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., Subramanian will lead tours of the lab where YInMn blue was discovered, and demonstrate how it was discovered. Space on the tours is limited.

YInMn blue was discovered by accident in 2009 when Subramanian and his team were experimenting with new materials that could be used in electronics applications. The researchers mixed manganese oxide – which is black in color – with other chemicals and heated them in a furnace to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their samples turned out to be a vivid blue. Oregon State graduate student Andrew Smith initially made these samples to study their electrical properties.

The pigment features a unique crystal structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light while only reflecting blue. The vibrant blue is so durable, and its compounds are so stable – even in oil and water – that the color does not fade.

These characteristics make the new pigment versatile for a variety of commercial products. Used in paints, for example, they can help keep buildings cool by reflecting infrared light. Better yet, Subramanian said, the pigment’s ingredients are non-toxic.

Media Contact: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039

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Mas Subramanian, 541-737-8235
mas.subramanian@oregonstate.edu

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Blue pigment

YInMn blue

Sustainability

 

About the OSU Sustainabiity Office: The OSU Sustainability Office focuses on integrating sustainability into OSU's mission and operations.  It provides consultation and support to departments across campus and directly manages operations, outreach and assessment programming.

OSU recognized for sustainability efforts

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has been recognized as a top performer in the 2016 Sustainable Campus Index.

The university ranked seventh overall among universities identified as doctoral/ research institutions, and fifth among all participating universities in the grounds category.

The 2016 Sustainable Campus Index, a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), highlights top-performing colleges and universities in 17 areas and overall by institution type, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, or STARS.

Oregon State was the first Oregon university to be rated by STARS, and received gold designations in 2011, and 2013- 2016.

“Being included in AASHE’s 2016 Sustainable Campus Index is always great, and it’s nice to see a summary of the best sustainability-related work of our fellow higher education institutions,” said Brandon Trelstad, OSU’s sustainability coordinator.

“However, one of the nicest surprises was we were featured in the very short list of colleges and universities with zero or near-zero data errors in their STARS submission. STARS requires input of thousands of data points and I’m glad that the culture of high-quality control and attention to detail in the Sustainability Office, and our partner departments, is recognized.” 

The index also featured a short story on OSU’s humanitarian engineering program, which is one of the few of its kind co-located with a Peace Corps Masters International program. Faculty from engineering, the humanities, public health and forestry all participate in the program. Recent projects by students in the program include creating modeling tools for micro-hydro development in Pakistan and ground-sensing stations for an international trans-African hydro-meteorological observatory.

To view the complete index: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxl_G1Xg76XlMTNPZ2pLa3NrUjg/view

For more information on OSU’s efforts in sustainability, go to http://fa/oregonstate.edu/sustainability/

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Brandon Trelstad, 541-737-3307; Brandon.trelstad@oregonstate.edu

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Recycling Pledge

New type of cement could offer environmental protection, lower cost

CORVALLIS, Ore. – If widely adopted, a new approach to making cement could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, help address global warming, produce a more durable concrete, and save industry time and significant costs.     

The findings of a recent study show great potential for a type of cement that gains strength through carbonation, rather than the use of water. Concrete made with this cement also appears to better resist some of the most common de-icing salts that can lead to failure and dramatically reduce the lifespan of roads.

The research was published in Construction and Building Materials, by engineers from Oregon State University, Purdue University and Solidia Technologies. This work was supported in part by Solidia Technologies, which licensed core technology from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 

“Instead of water reacting with cement, this carbonated cement reacts with carbon dioxide and calcium silicate,” said Jason Weiss, the Miles Lowell and Margaret Watt Edwards Distinguished Chair in the OSU College of Engineering.

“This new product at first blush looks like conventional concrete, but it has properties that should make it last longer in some applications,” Weiss said. “In addition, use of it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which is an important goal of the cement industry.” 

Crude cement was used by the Egyptians to build the pyramids, improved during the time of the Roman Empire, and reached its modern form around 180 years ago. When used to make concrete – a combination of cement, sand and crushed rock - it’s one of the most proven building materials in human history.

This is actually part of the problem – concrete works so well, for so many uses, that 2-4 tons per year are produced for every person on Earth. It’s popular, plentiful, cost effective, and research is continuing to reduce its environmental impact. Production of the cement used in concrete is believed to be responsible for 5-8 percent of the global emissions of carbon dioxide, largely just because so much concrete is used. 

The cement industry has committed itself to the goal of cutting those emissions in half, and this new approach might help. Beyond that, the new research shows the ability of this “carbonated calcium silicate-based cement,” or CCSC, to be far more resistant to degradation from deicing salts such as sodium chloride and magnesium chloride.

“In places where deicing salts are routinely used, they can cause damage to roadways that cost about $1 million a mile to fix, and can reduce a 40-year lifespan of a surface to as little as 8-10 years,” Weiss said. “By using a type of cement that requires carbon dioxide to make, and in turn greatly extend the lifespan of some roads, the environmental benefits could be enormous.” 

These products are just now being developed and tested, Weiss said, and some obstacles exist to their widespread, global use. New construction codes and standards would need to be developed. However, the new approach has already been adapted to existing raw materials, formulas and equipment.

Some of the first uses of these products, Weiss said, will be in pre-cast concrete products that can be created in a factory and transported to where they are needed. More ambitious and widespread use of the new approach may take longer. Other technologies, such as topical treatments to resist deicing salts, or the use of waste products to produce supplemental cements, may gain earlier use to address some of these issues. 

In the latest research, the new CCSC concrete was shown not to react with deicing chemicals in the way that conventional concrete does. Such chemicals can cause a serious and premature deterioration in concrete pavements, even if the concrete does not experience freezing and thawing.

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Jason Weiss, 541-737-1885 or Jason.weiss@oregonstate.edu

OSUsed Store changing, expanding schedules in 2016

The OSUsed Store, OSU's on-campus reuse store, is changing its public and departmental sales schedules in 2016.

Public sales will now be held twice a week, instead of once, on Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. The changes, which are now in effect, will allow extra times to shop, more evening times, and a schedule that does not change from week-to-week, officials say.

Between 250 and 275 members of the public currently attend weekly sales at the OSUsed store. These changes will provide more opportunity and evening sales for people with busy schedules and work, said Rae DeLay, manager for materials management with Surplus Property.

The new public schedule will also be consistent from week to week, rather than offering one monthly evening sale and three afternoon sales.

With this change, the new hours for OSU departments, government agencies and nonprofits to shop will be Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They may also shop during the public sales, but will have better selection and faster service during these times.

 

The shop’s merchandise has increased dramatically over the last three years, DeLay said, and opening the shop to the public more often will help turn over items more quickly and allow new ones to be added. Staff will also be able to more promptly pick up surplus items from campus departments.

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Andrea Norris, 541-737-5398; andrea.norris@oregonstate.edu