energy and sustainability

Nissan electric car on display at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The type of advanced technology that is moving electric automobiles from a curiosity to a working reality will be on display Wednesday, April 8, at Oregon State University.

OSU is hosting a visit by the Renault-Nissan Alliance of its new “zero emission vehicle,” a full-size, all-electric car powered by a lithium-ion battery that can go 100 miles on a single charge and will cost less for fuel than gasoline-powered vehicles.

It’s expected to be marketed in the United States by 2010, and will be available for a sneak preview from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the northwest corner of the Kelley Engineering Center on the OSU campus. Other student-built solar cars will also be on display. The event is free and open to the public.

Nissan representatives will be available to answer questions and explain the features of their company’s new automobile and its capabilities, such as quick charging and low maintenance costs.

OSU already has a working relationship with Nissan, as part of Oregon Gov. Kulongoski’s initiative to develop a charging network for electric vehicles and move the state toward a greater commitment to green transportation.

“Electric vehicles are clearly going to be important in the future of American automotive transportation, and OSU will be both a research and educational leader in creating that future,” said Ron Adams, dean of the OSU College of Engineering. “We’re already heavily committed to various research projects in this area, we have world-class testing facilities to help create optimal technologies, and we will train the engineers and other experts who will make this happen.”

OSU has engineering programs in disciplines related to transportation vehicles and systems, and a range of multi-million dollar research initiatives on alternative transportation. Some relate to battery-powered vehicles, and others to electric cars that could be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The two primary obstacles to making hydrogen fuel cell cars more practical are the cost of hydrogen and new technologies needed to store it, and OSU is working in both arenas.

The university is also a leader in new and innovative forms of nuclear power, which could provide the electricity needed for battery-powered electric cars. And one type of “super hot” nuclear reactor now being studied at OSU has the potential to directly separate water into its hydrogen and oxygen components, which could provide low-cost hydrogen to power automobile fuel cells.

Smaller electric and hybrid electric vehicles are already in heavy use at the OSU Motor Pool, and are the most requested vehicles in the fleet. Use of high mileage, hybrid vehicles has been a major cost saver for the university, officials say.

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Ron Adams,

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Nissan Electric Car

Nissan Electric Car

OSU seeks comments on sustainable agriculture

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is seeking comments on a statewide study of sustainable agriculture in order to gauge potential for establishing a new program to help the agriculture and food business communities meet sustainability standards.

The study is part of a statewide conversation about sustainable agriculture in Oregon. It compiles comments from groups of people across the state who were asked how OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences can provide the agriculture and food industries with research and information about sustainability and certification standards in the marketplace.

The focus groups included growers, food processors and retailers, food service industries and non-governmental organizations across the state.

The OSU Extension Service has posted the report online and created a space on the website to allow Oregonians to comment on and continue this conversation about sustainable agriculture. The report is available at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/blogs/sustainable_agriculture/report/.

Movement to develop a clearinghouse for information about sustainable agriculture began in 2002, when member-grower representatives of NORPAC Foods, Inc., sought to develop agricultural stewardship and sustainability guidelines.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski directed the Oregon Solutions Network to help establish a single, comprehensive source for a full range of resources related to sustainable agriculture. In 2006, 26 organizations signed a Declaration of Cooperation to establish the Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Resource Center. In discussions regarding the center’s location and funding, criticisms arose that the agricultural community had not been involved more broadly.

In response, the OSU Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Extension Program offered to conduct a series of focus groups to engage a larger representation of agriculture.

Several themes emerged from the focus group conversations. Among them:
• Oregon has an opportunity to be a sustainable agriculture leader;
• Sustainable agriculture is a consumer-driven trend;
• Lack of certification standards creates risks;
• The term “sustainable agriculture” is confusing;
• There are multiple needs for information, education and research on this topic.

The public is invited to comment on the study and its findings. OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences is monitoring the conversations on the website but is not moderating the discussion.


Bill Braunworth,

Oregon State University Celebrates Earth Week

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is celebrating Earth Week beginning Saturday, April 18, with a community-wide EarthFaire on the Corvallis waterfront, the annual Procession of the Species Parade through downtown Corvallis, and a climate policy town hall meeting at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

On Saturday, cities across the nation will be partaking in town hall type forums organized by local Focus the Nation teams to engage people from Congressional representatives, to elected city officials, as well as community members in amplifying a discussion on America’s transition to a green economy. From 3 to 7 p.m. at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, key panelists will first talk about what they are working on now with regards to a green economy. Then they will talk about what they need to help create the green economy. An informational session will be provided to what kind of legislation is moving forward in Salem.

The panel discussion will be followed by a round table discussion, which will address how Corvallis citizens, university and city administrators, and government officials can connect their resources and engage each other to work out what the green economy would look like.

The events continue through April 24, with most of the activities taking place on or near campus, including the annual Community Fair April 21, which features information on 50 different campus and community groups focusing on sustainability, the environment and related topics.

“Around the world, people are realizing we have to really take the environment seriously and our impact seriously,” said Michaela Hammer, OSU Student Sustainability Initiative visibility coordinator. “Earth Week is becoming less of a special event and more about showcasing what we can do all year round.”

One popular Earth Week event is the annual Earth Day Hoo Haa, an afternoon celebration on April 22 at a student-run organic farm on the outskirts of Corvallis. Featuring speakers, live music, family-oriented events and the opportunity to get your hands dirty, it draws folks of all ages.

Other highlights of Earth Week include a Living Hat contest April 20, where participants show off their haberdashery skills as well as their green thumbs when they craft a hat out of living materials. The brand new OSU Bike Co-op is playing host to a bike race and open house April 23 to share the organization’s mission, which includes providing a place for students to learn how to work on their bikes and take free classes on bike maintenance.

And the newly formed OSU Permaculture Club will teach participants how to start seeds and make seedballs during an event at the Student Sustainability Center on April 22.

The following is a calendar of events, which also can be accessed at http://recycle.oregonstate.edu/EarthDay/eventCalendar.cfm:

Saturday, April 18
• 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.: EarthFaire, First and Monroe Avenue. Exhibitors, music, crafts and more.
• Noon - 1 p.m.: Procession of the Species, First and Jackson Street. Join the parade dressed as any species.
• 3-7 p.m.: Focus the Nation Town Hall, Corvallis-Benton Public Library. Ask legislators about climate policy.

Sunday, April 19
• 9 a.m.-noon: Naturalist adventure, Avery Park Rose Garden. Explore nature at this local park.

Monday, April 20
• 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Sorting it Out: Trash audits in MU quad. Help rescue recylables from the landfill.
• 12:30-1:30 p.m.: Alternative Transportation Panel, MU 211. Options for ridesharing, mass transit, biking and more.
• All day: Living Hat Contest. Make a hat out of living materials to promote Earth Week.

Tuesday, April 21
• 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Annual Community Fair, MU Quad. Interactive informational fair with 50 different groups.
• 7-9 p.m.: Climate Crisis 101, Student Sustainability Center, 738 S.W. 15th St. Overview of the climate crisis.
• 7-9 p.m.: Call & Response Movie Showing, Club Escape, OSU. Documentary to end human trafficking.

Wednesday, April 22
• Noon - 3 p.m.: Potting and Seed Balling, Student Sustainability Center. Start seeds and make seed balls to take home.
• 3-7 p.m.: Earth Day Hoo Haa!, Organic Growers Farm, 1 mile east of Corvallis, Hwy. 34. Organic food, music, plantings and more.
• 3:30-4:30 p.m.: GECO Climate Change Speaker Series, Burt 193. Karen Shell speaks about her climate research.
• 7-9 p.m.: Blue Vinyl Movie Showing, 1001 Kelley Engineering. Documentary on PVC’s environmental effects.
• 7-9 p.m.: The Call Lecture, Milam Auditorium. Speakers discuss human trafficking.

Thursday, April 23
• 3-5 p.m.: Simple Sustainability, OSU Women’s Center. Learn how to reduce your environmental impact.
• 5 p.m.: Get to Know Your Local Bicycle Co-op, MU Quad. 5:30-9 p.m., Student Sustainability Center. Bike race and open house to learn about the co-op.

Friday, April 24
• 3-4:30 p.m.: Synthetic Sea, Synthetic Me: Plastics in the Ocean, Strand Ag Hall. Speakers discuss plastic’s effects on the marine environment.
• 7-9:30 p.m.: SSI Earth Week Party, Student Sustainability Center. Food, games and entertainment.
• 7-8 p.m.: Flames for Change Vigil, MU steps. Candlelight vigil and rally against human trafficking.

OSU Earth Week is sponsored by Campus Recycling, Student Sustainability Initiative and ASOSU Environmental Affairs, as well as Corvallis Public Works and First Alternative Co-op.

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Grand opening of Kearney Hall planned at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A public grand opening will be held on Friday, May 15, of Kearney Hall at Oregon State University – recognizing the successful $12 million renovation of Apperson Hall, a structure built in 1898 that has retained its historic exterior appearance while being transformed into a bright, energy-efficient and modern classroom, laboratory and research facility.

The grey stone façade of the building is one of the most recognizable structures on the OSU campus, and for more than a century has helped educate generations of engineers. It’s now complemented by a completely new interior, a central light court, 106-seat auditorium, and state of the art classrooms, as well as exposed ceilings and “windows” into walls that will provide students with real-world examples of structural, mechanical and electrical features.

The major renovation was made possible, in part, by more than $4 million in support from Lee and Connie Kearney of Vancouver, Wash., and the building has been renamed in their honor. Lee Kearney, a former director and division manager of Peter Kiewit Sons’ Co., earned his degree in civil engineering from OSU in 1963, and Connie Kearney began higher education at OSU before earning undergraduate and law degrees at other institutions.

Tours of Kearney Hall will be available from 1-4 p.m. as part of the Engineering Expo being held the same day on the OSU campus.

The grand opening, which is free and open to the public, will be from 4:30 to 5 p.m. in front of Kearney Hall, at the intersection of 14th and Monroe streets in Corvallis. College officials and other speakers, including Lee and Connie Kearney and Oregon Sen. Frank Morse, will discuss the legacy of the building, its significance to the College of Engineering and the Oregon economy, the new features and other topics.

“This structure has touched the lives of literally thousands of engineers across the nation and the world, generations of young students who took classes within its walls,” said Ron Adams, dean of the college. “It’s a handsome building that badly needed renovation on the interior, but we’ve been able to retain its historic exterior that adds such beauty and grace, and serves as the ‘front door’ to one corner of our campus.

“That was made possible by the vision of Lee and Connie Kearney, and more than 800 alumni and other friends of the university who donated to the project,” Adams said. “It’s a wonderful way to honor the history of the College of Engineering, even as we continue our efforts to grow, expand and make the college one of the nation’s premier programs in engineering education and research.”

Today, Kearney Hall houses the civil and construction engineering programs of the university, which are emerging as national leaders in “green” and sustainable engineering practices. Consistent with that, Kearney Hall was renovated with approaches that expect to earn it silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Kearney Hall, with its highly visible green components, is proving to be a tremendous learning environment for our students,” said Scott Ashford, head of OSU’s School of Civil and Construction Engineering. “You just can’t beat having the students see first hand what we discuss in the classroom.”

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Ron Adams,

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Kearney Hall

EPA Recognizes OSU as Pac-10 Leader in Purchasing “Green” Power

CORVALLIS, Ore. – For the second year in a row, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Oregon State University for its purchase of green power, singling out OSU as the leading institution in the Pacific-10 Conference for its sustainability efforts.

The EPA announced this week that OSU led all Pac-10 institutions by purchasing nearly 67 million kilowatt-hours of green power. The purchase of that much green energy is equivalent to reducing the carbon dioxide emissions of nearly 8,800 passenger cars annually, the agency pointed out.

EPA’s recognition of the achievement is part of the agency’s EPA Green Power Partnership, which since 2006 has recognized collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power purchases in the nation. The Individual Conference Champion Award, which OSU is receiving for 2008-09, recognizes the school with the highest green power purchase.

Green power is generated from renewable sources and is considered cleaner than conventional sources of electricity because it has lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Brandon Trelstad, OSU’s sustainability coordinator, said Oregon State’s ability to purchase green power is a result of a commitment to sustainability by students at the school. In 2007, OSU students overwhelmingly voted to assess themselves a fee of up to $8.50 per student each term to pay for green energy. The proposal passed by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent, making OSU one of the first universities in the country to adopt such a measure.

“It has made a significant difference,” Trelstad said. “Those funds have boosted our ability to purchase renewable energy certificates from off-site sources, including wind energy, biogas and biomass.”

This is the latest in a series of sustainability initiatives that has brought national attention to OSU.

In 2008, the EPA named OSU one of 25 organizations to earn its Green Power Leadership Award, and the Kaplan College Guide listed the university as one of the nation’s top 25 “green colleges.” Also in 2008, Country Home magazine named Corvallis the greenest city in America in a listing of more than 350 cities – primarily because of its association with OSU.

Earlier this year, OSU became one of the first universities in the country to tap the kinetic energy generated by students working out on cardio machines and turning it into a form of renewable energy. OSU retrofitted 22 elliptical exercise machines in its student fee-funded Dixon Recreation Center and is collecting the power produced by students and feeding it back into the power grid.

“The amount of power generated isn’t overwhelming,” Trelstad said, “but it really helps students think about issues relating to energy production and consumption and encourages their activity in other areas. OSU students are quite energy-conscious – and becoming more so every day.”

Last month, the university finished its annual greenhouse gas inventory and reported a 30 percent reduction in net emissions during the past year – another direct result of student-supported green power purchases.

The university’s ability to use renewable power should get a boost later this year when the new $55 million energy center becomes fully operational, replacing a decades-old steam heating plant. The new center will be capable of burning renewable fuels – like methane and diesel – in the future, allowing OSU to produce about half of its electricity through co-generation.

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Brandon Trelstad,

OSU To Tackle Solar Future in New “Energy Frontier Research Center”

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University experts hope to develop some of the solar energy technology of the future in a new Energy Frontier Research Center announced today by the U.S. Department of Energy and the White House – a $777 million initiative to create breakthrough technology for a 21st-century energy economy.

As part of that effort, researchers in the College of Engineering and College of Science at OSU will receive a five-year, $3 million grant to help form a “Center for Inverse Design.” This innovative concept uses theory and computation along with other experimental methods to more rapidly identify the advanced materials that can make solar power less costly and more efficient.

The Department of Energy announced today that it is setting up 46 such centers at universities, national laboratories and other research agencies around the nation, as part of the funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Work will take place in diverse fields, ranging from solar energy to electricity storage, biofuels, andvanced nuclear systems, carbon sequestration and other areas.

“Our work with inverse design will be somewhat the opposite of traditional science, where you might invent or discover something and then look for an application,” said John Wager, an OSU professor of electrical engineering. “The idea is to start with the ideal of what you want, such as a solar cell that’s 20 percent efficient. Then you ask what kind of materials, atomic structure, even construction methods it would take to achieve that.”

OSU experts, including Douglas Keszler, a distinguished professor of chemistry, will collaborate in their new center with researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Northwestern University, and Stanford University. In particular, this approach will tap into the power of sophisticated computers and advanced computational ability.

“This is one of the grand challenges that has been identified in engineering, to bring the theorists and the experimentalists together,” Wager said. “Some members of our group will work mostly on the theory of what we want and at OSU we’ll do some of the advanced material science research that will help keep us grounded in reality. Hopefully we’ll meet somewhere in the middle with some powerful new technology we can actually build.”

More than 260 applications from around the nation competed to receive one of these new Energy Frontier Research Centers.

“We are particularly interested in tapping the imagination and creativity of the scientific community to address the fundamental questions of how nature works and to harness this new knowledge for some of our most critical real-world challenges,” Department of Energy officials said in a statement released today.

Continued funding after the initial five-year period is anticipated, federal officials said.

OSU has a wide range of new and alternative energy research initiatives under way, including efforts in new nuclear technology, less costly production of hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuel cells, wave energy, more advanced solar energy through the use of transparent electronics, and other programs.

OSU researchers working on this project are also associated with the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, as well as the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center.

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John Wager,

OSU to host climate change seminars

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will host a seminar series focusing on different aspects of climate change that begins Wednesday, April 1, with a talk by Ricardo Matano, who will discuss the oceans and climate.

The series is being coordinated by the Global Environmental Change Organization, an OSU student group.

These climate change talks will be held each Wednesday spring term beginning at 3:30 p.m. in Burt Hall 193. They are free and open to the public. The series is sponsored by OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute.

• April 1 – “The Oceans and Climate,” Ricardo Matano, OSU College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.

• April 8 – “Disturbance, the Surface Energy Balance, and Climate,” Tom O’Halloran, OSU College of Forestry.

• April 15 – “Ice Age Lessons for Global Warming,” Jeremy Shakun, OSU Department of Geosciences/College of Science.

• April 22 – “Climate Feedbacks in Climate Models,” Karen Shell, OSU College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.

• April 29 – “Humidity and the Seasonality of Influenza,” Jeffrey Shaman, OSU College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.

• May 6 – “Drilling for Ice Cores in Antarctica,” Logan Mitchell, OSU Department of Geosciences/College of Science.

• May 13 – “Introducing the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute,” Philip Mote, director of OCCRI/OSU College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.

• May 20 – TBA.

• May 27 – “Linking Population Growth, Development and Global Warming,” Derric Jacobs, College of Liberal Arts.

• June 3 – “Life History Traits Predict Bird Range Shifts Northward,” Matthew Betts, OSU College of Forestry (tentative date).

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Mark Floyd

Oregon State University Takes Top Spot in Region for Recycling

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University led all Pacific Northwest colleges and universities in the 2009 Recyclemania, a nationwide competition to see which institutions can recycle the most. The event took place Jan. 18 through March 28.

In the Per Capita Classic (competition for the highest weight of recyclables per person) OSU ranked No. 1 among all Oregon and Washington schools, and in the Gorilla Prize category (competition for the highest cumulative weight recycled) OSU ranked No. 1 in Oregon and No. 2 in the Pacific Northwest.

This year 510 schools competed from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Canada, collectively recycling 69.4 million pounds. When taking into account all 10 weeks (including the first two, which were trial weeks not considered in final rankings), OSU recycled 385,132 pounds (192.6 tons). Diverting this material from the landfill not only helps the environment, but also saves OSU money on waste disposal.

“Another benefit from competing in Recyclemania is the increased awareness about recycling and waste prevention on campus,” said Andrea Norris, recycling program assistant and coordinator of outreach for the competition. “By putting on events, displaying results in the Memorial Union Quad, and making it our goal to recycle as much as possible, we were able to reach more people and keep waste prevention on the top of people’s minds.”

Campus Recycling’s efforts support OSU’s commitment to sustainability by conserving natural resources, reducing waste, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste. Campus Recycling is becoming more sustainable in other ways such as consolidating routes to save gas, investigating commingled recycling in the residence halls, working with Allied Waste to begin collecting organic material for composting, and sponsoring educational events such as the annual Earth Week celebration.


Andrea Norris,

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OSU student worker

10th Engineering Expo to Showcase Student Inventions

CORVALLIS, Ore. – You might run into a swarm of tiny robots, see a 3-D version of the future of television, examine a human-powered vehicle that can negotiate land, mud or water, or see how a SWAT team could use a new reconnaissance robot.

Regardless of what interests you – the unusual, functional, or creative – you’ll find plenty to see on Friday, May 15, at the popular 10th annual Engineering Expo at Oregon State University.

More than 100 student-built projects, representing OSU’s best undergraduate engineering talent, will be featured at the popular event at the Kelley Engineering Center on the OSU campus. The Expo exhibits will be on display from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the event is free and open to the public.

Also available this year will be tours of the Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, on the hour from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the newly renovated Kearney Hall, from 1-4 p.m. Visitors are also invited to the Kearney Hall grand opening celebration at 4:30 p.m. Parking is available in the OSU parking structure at 26th and Washington, with shuttle service to all the events.

These senior design projects featured at the Expo are the result of months of student work and a culmination of their engineering studies. Many of these projects are sponsored by business and government organizations in search of a solution to a particular problem. Students take what they’ve learned in years of classroom and laboratory instruction and work with their sponsors to turn that knowledge into functional new inventions.

All of the disciplines in OSU’s large and diverse College of Engineering are represented at the Expo, and a special exhibit in the Sustainability Showcase this year will focus on clean technology and “green” energy solutions. The Robo*Palooza event will include the TekBot Triathlon, OSU’s entry for this year’s Mars Rover Challenge, and FIRST robots from local high schools.

Among the many other displays and inventions at this year’s event:

• A “telebotic” arm control, a wearable machine that fits over your arm to provide robotic function;

• A new game teaches biology, where DNA is represented by ATCG building blocks;

• An interactive visualization tool is complete with National Football League statistics for drafting and managing a fantasy football team;

• A new operating room recycling process to reduce waste in hospitals, including Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis;

• A new system for laser welding polymer parts, for use in developing high-tech devices;

• A parachute that can be tossed out of an airplane with its payload and then navigated to a specific landing site.

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Renie Ashbaugh,

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2008 EXPO-7723

Electric motorcycle

OSU to harness the power of its students – literally

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Every day, thousands of college students determinedly hit the cardio machines, lowering their stress after a tough exam, getting in shape for spring, or working off those chocolate chip cookies that showed up in a care package from home.

But now Oregon State University and a private firm are teaming up to harness the fruits of this student labor by capturing the energy from their workouts – literally.

OSU will become one of the first universities in the country to tap the kinetic energy generated by people involved in daily workout routines and turn it into a form of renewable energy. Using a new technology developed by a company in St. Petersburg, Fla., called ReRev.com, LLC, OSU has retrofitted 22 elliptical exercise machines in its student fee-funded Dixon Recreation Center and already is collecting the power produced by students and feeding it back into the power grid.

The effort will produce an estimated 3,500 kilowatt hours of electricity in a year, according to Brandon Trelstad, the university’s sustainability coordinator.

“Its output could be equivalent to what is needed to power a small, very efficient house,” Trelstad said. “Our ultimate goal is to maximize both the real power output of the system and the learning opportunities gained by having it at OSU, where our students clearly care about renewable energy.”

In 2007, OSU students voted to impose upon themselves an $8.50 per student per term fee to purchase renewable energy for the campus. Since then, about three-quarters of the university’s electricity has come from renewable production.

“OSU students have demonstrated how big student power can be on campus,” said Matthew Pennington, chief of staff for the Associated Students of Oregon State University. “It was a grassroots movement that helped OSU turn green – and this project moves it forward even farther.”

The ReRev technology features a system that has a patent pending called ReCardio that captures and converts the otherwise counter-productive heat energy from exercise machines. Though some businesses or individuals have dabbled with this type of energy conversion, a program on this scale is unusual, Trelstad pointed out.

“A battery-free system like this, tied to the grid, is quite rare,” Trelstad said. “In fact, we’re informed by ReRev – which has done extensive market research – that this is the largest installation of its kind in the world.”

The project, coordinated by OSU’s Sustainability Office and Recreational Sports Department, was supported by OSU students through their student incidental fees committee and by the Energy Trust of Oregon.

“Capturing electricity from exercise machines represents a small, but potentially widely replicable source of energy,” said Jan Schaeffer, special projects manager, Energy Trust. “We’re happy to support OSU in demonstrating the capabilities of this technology. And it’s a perfect capstone for the Corvallis Energy Challenge we’ve promoted over the past year.”

Trelstad said the 22-unit installation just came online and will be officially launched during OSU’s Campus Wellness Week, Feb. 16-21 (info at oregonstate.edu/recsports/cww). The potential is there for future expansion of up to 40 machines with some additional hardware.

OSU’s popular Dixon Recreation Center is the ideal facility for the system, Pennington said, because of the existing number of machines and high usage rates per machine.

“The center’s workout volume, combined with the large amount of equipment, could eventually produce the same amount of electricity as a small solar photovoltaic system, placing students directly in the renewable energy production chain.”

When students are pedaling for power on these elliptical machines, a real-time display screen shows momentary power production, production to date, production peaks, and other information.

Trelstad said additional energy savings will be realized through lower summer cooling needs for the building. Instead of creating heat as most exercise machines are set up to do, usable electricity will be generated. The power generation will slightly reduce the electrical consumption of the building, much like how a small solar electric system operates, he pointed out.

More important, however, the project has the power – no pun intended – to bring sustainability and renewable energy awareness to students who may never have thought about it in such direct ways.

“This type of involved, hands on learning can be invaluable for students,” said Pennington. “This project will put green power, and new technology directly in contact with students that may have never seen it before. This type of project is one of those that students look at and it just makes sense.

“It has no learning curve, and is easy for anyone to comprehend.”

Editor’s Note: Here is the video of the celebration that OSU hosted on February 18th: http://oregonstate.edu/media/zqxqrl.

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Brandon Trelstad,
OSU Sustainability Coordinator,