A University of California, Riverside engineering graduate student has been selected as one of five students out of hundreds who applied to launch a global campaign this month during a student conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
Other winning students will launch campaigns in the categories of peace, oceans, equality and youth. Piqueras and the four other student delegates were selected from 400 submissions.
At the conference, Piqueras will give a presentation about his campaign, called fAIR4all, and those in attendance will be able to sign on to join the campaign.
The basics of the campaign are to empower the conference attendees to take action, especially in developing countries, and mobilize global citizens to secure safe air all parts of the world.
The end goal of the campaign is to establish clean air as a basic human right and to implement it within the international pantheon of essential public health services akin to clean water, vaccinations, family planning and primary care.
UCR and Bourns College of Engineering are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s Catalyst for Innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas, research, and scholars.
When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense. The solar cells – made often of silicon or cadmium telluride – rarely cost more than 20 percent of the total cost. Solar energy could be made cheaper if less land had to be purchased to accommodate solar panels, best achieved if each solar cell could be coaxed to generate more power.
A huge gain in this direction has now been made by a team of chemists at the University of California, Riverside that has found an ingenious way to make solar energy conversion more efficient. The researchers report in Nano Letters that by combining inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules, they have succeeded in “upconverting” photons in the visible and near-infrared regions of the solar spectrum.
This research is an extraordinary example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, and UC Riverside is at the forefront. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support research and exploration in the scientific community. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, nation, and world to follow.
A team of students from the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering recently won two awards at an international design competition for a material composed of rice husks that they created as a less costly and more environmentally friendly alternative to particleboard.
In the students’ design, the rice husks, which contain termite-resistant silica, replace wood chips found in traditional particleboard. The students then use environmentally friendly binding materials instead of traditionally used glues that contain formaldehyde, known to emit harmful gases into the air.
Initial cost estimates compiled by the students show four-by-eight-foot rice husk boards would cost about $18. Currently, four-by-eight-foot particleboard sheets sell for about $25 in the United States. While the main focus of the project is to create a building material for relief structures in the Philippines, the students believe there could be a market in the United States to use the boards for furniture.
“What we are creating is a really a win-win situation,” said Joel Sanchez, a senior chemical engineering major and a member of the team. “It will last longer, be environmentally friendly and cost less.”
In addition to Sanchez, the team consists of Lamees Alkhamis, Colin Eckerle, Jeniene Abugherir and Chris Yang. All except Eckerle expect to graduate in June. They are advised by Kawai Tam, a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering; Michael Rust, a distinguished professor at the Department of Entomology; and David Kisailus, an associate professor at the Department of Chemical and Enviornmental Engineering.
The team, called Husk-to-Home, won two awards, including the Intel Environmental Innovation Award, the top award, and $5,000 at the WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development competition in Las Cruces, N.M.
The idea for the project came from one of Tam’s former students, whose father-in-law’s brother runs a nonprofit, the International Deaf Education Association, in the Philippines that builds temporary housing after natural disasters.
One problem the nonprofit has is that its building materials, such as coconut wood, bamboo and plywood, are susceptible to termite damage.
Since the Philippines is one of the world’s largest producers of rice and previous research has shown that rice husks and rice straw are termite resistant the idea was to develop a particleboard-like material with the waste products of rice.
Initially, this was a makeshift project, in large part because the students didn’t have much money to put into it.
That wasn’t a problem with regard to the rice husks, which they purchased at a feed store. A 45-pound bag sells for $12. The rice husks are typically used as bedding for farm animals.
But the students needed $10,000 for a hot press that would allow them to assemble the risk husk boards in a uniform manner. They improvised, using a combination of nine-by-thirteen baking pans, spring form baking pans, ovens and blow torches.
They also built a makeshift humidity chamber to simulate conditions in the Philippines. The team built the chamber using a plastic container the size of a large shoebox, small fan, heating lamp, humidifier and humidity and temperature sensors. They drilled holes for air and the sensors.
The other challenge the students faced was acquiring termites. They said they were more expensive than expected – $1 to $1.50 per termite – if ordered through the mail and there was no guarantee they would arrive alive.
So the students worked with Rust to collect termites. But, they faced an additional problem: termites are dormant from roughly November to March.
Initially, the students used epoxy, a not-so-environmentally-friendly material, as the binding agent. Now, they are focused on using tannin, a compound naturally found in plants, and casein, a protein found in milk. For the casein experiments they use nonfat instant dry milk they buy at a grocery store.
By March, the students had raised $10,000 to buy the hot press. Once the press arrived, they immediately began experimenting with risk husk boards made with tannin and casein.
Initial results show that tannin boards are strong enough but not water resistant, while casein boards are water resistant but not strong enough.
The students are experimenting with adding coatings or other materials to the mixture. Options include adding shrimp shells, which are abundant in the Philippines. They also plan to add a water resistive coating to eliminate problems with the particleboard falling apart in the humid environment. In addition, they want to incorporate rice straw, which could increase strength and flexibility.
Creating a new way to make particle board is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial idea, research, products, and scholars. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
Insects destroy a very large fraction of the global agricultural output – nearly 40 percent. The spotted wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), for example, feeds on ripening fruits. A nuisance especially in Northern California and Europe, it lays its eggs inside ripe berries, and, when its larvae emerge there, the fruit is destroyed. As a result, each year D. suzukii causes hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of agricultural damage worldwide.
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside have now identified a safe repellent that protects fruits from D. suzukii: Butyl anthranilate (BA), a pleasant-smelling chemical compound produced naturally in fruits in small amounts. In their lab experiments, the scientists found BA warded off D. suzukii from blueberries coated with it. The finding, when extrapolated to other agricultural pests, could provide a strategy for controlling them and increasing the productivity of crops and fruit.
Study results appear June 22 in Scientific Reports, an online and open-access Nature publication.
“Toxic insecticides are often risky to use directly on fruits – especially when they are close to being harvested,” said Anandasankar Ray, an associate professor of entomology and the director of the Center for Disease Vector Research at UC Riverside, whose lab performed the research project. “A safe and affordable repellent such as BA could provide protection and reduce use of toxic chemicals.”
“The natural repellents discovered by Dr. Ray are particularly promising for supporting multiple possible applications,” said Michael Pazzani, the vice chancellor for research and economic development. “The safe and inexpensive compounds are not only effective for the protection of fruit and agricultural produce from pests, but also from biting insects that transmit disease to us and livestock.”
This discovery is an outstanding representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The students and staff at UCR cultivate and support ideas, research, and products that accelerate the common good for all. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
When Wells Middle School student Yuly Quintero heard about Norte Vista High School’s newly minted Green Construction Academy, she knew it was where she wanted to be.
“It just seemed so cool to do things other girls don’t do,” she said.
Quintero, now 15 and a sophomore at the Riverside high school, said the academy has exceeded her expectations. She has designed and built miniature replicas of buildings and bridges, and learned how to use hand and power tools.
And on a recent Tuesday, Quintero and about 39 of her academy classmates were put through the paces by trained professionals during a daylong boot camp at the Electrical Apprenticeship Training Center in San Bernardino. They learned to use a defibrillator in a CPR class, fashioned metal conduits, ran wires and learned some of the “hair-raising” aspects of electrical safety.
Now wrapping up its third year at Norte Vista, the academy is a school within a school that blends academic and career technical education to engage students who lack motivation or are at risk of dropping out to help them prepare for careers in the building trades or college – or both. Programs like this are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation and intelligent growth pillars. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support programs that help improve our already outstanding quality of life.
“We’re reaching a student population that maybe we overlook,” said Gary Packler, the academy’s coordinator. “The academy is a way to connect them to school.”
The program is funded by a California Department of Education grant with support from the Alvord Unified School District and business partners. It focuses on jobs in clean technology and renewable energy in industries such as solar energy and wind energy.
Other Inland schools with grants for Green Construction academies are: Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino and Desert Hot Springs High School in the Palm Springs Unified School District.
Norte Vista’s Green Academy started in 2012 with a freshman class of 30 students recruited from the district’s four middle schools.
Students in that initial class – who will be seniors in fall – and from subsequent years take four classes per day together and advance through the academy as a group.
“It creates a smaller learning environment,” Packler said. “It promotes a connection between teacher and students.”
Students take academic courses including English, mathematics and science. Mixed in are a freshman class of wood shop, and sophomore and junior construction technology courses.
Students also observe and work at a solar panel installation work site, Packler said.
On May 5, 40 academy students gathered at the San Bernardino apprenticeship center, where they got a taste of what to expect if they opted to try for a spot in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ apprenticeship program instead of going to college.
“It’s a very demanding program,” said Jim Rush, the Brotherhood’s business representative, who helped organize the boot camp.
Rush said applicants need a high school diploma or GED, must pass an exam that tests their math, reading and writing comprehension skills and be interviewed by the apprenticeship committee.
In the five-year training program, apprentices work five days a week with a contractor and attend school two nights a week.
The payoff can be substantial, Rush said. He earns about $100,000 per year.
Sophomore Johnny Conriquez, 16 said he heard about the Green Academy at Loma Vista Middle School and thought it would suit him for a couple of reasons.
“I like working with my hands,” he said. “And I like that we’re helping the environment.”
The academy has been so successful that participants have asked to help recruit at middle schools, Packler said.
“Some of these students would never have volunteered to go to middle school,” Packler said. “But they have developed so much confidence and social skills.”
These are not your father’s residence halls. Just in time for Earth Day, the latest housing addition at UC Riverside has recycled materials, all the latest water management, energy efficiency, and environmentally friendly features like
Glen Mor II celebrated its LEED Gold Certification Wednesday. What does LEED mean? Well, it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is a certification program focused on sustainable buildings. Facilities receive points based on meeting environmentally friendly criteria. The first phase of Glen Mor, which opened in 2007, achieved the LEED Gold in December 2014. When well-maintained, the buildings will produce fewer waste products and are more energy efficient than they would otherwise be.
Glen Mor offers single-occupancy rooms in two- and four-bedroom apartment style floor plans. It is home to more than 1,300 residents (sophomores and up).
“It’s very impressive,” said Jean Weiss, a Riverside community member. “I love the multi-aspects of it all – the landscaping, parking structure, the market, it’s very scenic and at the same time conductive for the studious mindset,” she explained.
The certification was unveiled by Andy Plumley, assistant vice chancellor of UCR’s Housing, Dining, & Residential Services.
“Obtaining LEED Gold certification along with being the largest LEED Gold Group Property is quite a milestone for UCR,” said Plumley. “Housing, Dining & Residential Services is proud of the Glen Mor project and thankful for our dedicated campus partners (Architects & Engineers, Capital Program, Environmental Health & Safety, Transportation & Parking Services, Computing & Communications) who contributed greatly to help us reach this achievement.”
The public was given the opportunity to tour the new facility. Eric Shuler, Assistant Director of Facilities Management gave one of three tours around the new UCR Campus Apartment, highlighting the sustainable features, which include:
Rock landscaping: to minimize water use.
Solar panels: used for heating the water and building.
Furniture: all made in the U.S. and out of sustainably harvested and manufactured wood.
Appliances: all Energy Star rated.
Irrigation: controlled system, when it rains the system will automatically shut-off.
Lighting: interior is automatically dimmed and brightened according to existing ambient light. Exterior is energy-saving LED.
Housing, Dining & Residential Services will continue to develop a robust energy and sustainability program for UCR. The efforts will include:
Building level energy and sustainability improvements to meet or exceed LEED Gold standards, UCOP standards and State requirements.
Pursue additional LEED EBOM Certifications.
Pursue minimum of LEED Gold on all new building projects.
Develop programs for residents to educate on how they may contribute to the sustainability of their living environment.
Housing, Dining & Residential Services ultimate sustainability goal is to provide an optimized, balanced, living and learning experience with the least amount of impact on the environment.
UC Riverside’s green initiative is an outstanding example of the Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. By constantly improving their infrastructure, UCR has established it’s self as a leader in sustainability. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riverside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
This tree planting event is a partnership project between the City of Riverside Public Works Department and Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful.
Events like this not only help Riverside stay clean, but also creates a beautiful city for people to visit and live in. With our already outstanding landscape, year-round activities, and ample recreational options, Riverside has another reason for it to be a location of choice for people seeking a clean and beautiful place to live.
Have you signed up for the Great American Cleanup?
KRCB is recruiting volunteers for the Great American Cleanup (GAC) – a citywide cleanup throughout all 7 Council Wards.
Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015
Time and Place:From 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. volunteers work at their designated cleanup site.
From 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. volunteers return supplies and reports to City Hall and enjoy a celebration lunch!
Be a Team Leader: KRCB is seeking individuals to lead GAC volunteers in a community cleanup! View page 2 of the flyer or contact Ronald for more details.
Contact:Ronald Liu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951.682.7100 x 212 to confirm your participation in the:
Tuesday, May 5th – Team Leader Luncheon
11:30am – 1:00pSaturday, May 9th – Great American Cleanup
Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. CBU received notification last week that it received the honor.
To earn the distinction, CBU had to meet the five standards required by Tree Campus USA: establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.
Dr. Bonjun Koo, professor of environmental science, is on the CBU Tree Campus USA committee.
“California Baptist University is very proud to receive the 2015 Tree Campus USA recognition,” Koo said. “Our effort of conservation, sustainability and environmental stewardship is part of CBU’S core value. The passion of our students, faculty and staff is the reason for this achievement.” With the growing concern of climate change and pollution from fossil fuels, CBU is taking steps to reduce their foot print on the environment and promote the quality of life for all through intelligent growth of their campus.
Students, faculty and other volunteers planted 10 trees on campus last November as an early Arbor Day observance and to meet some of the required standards. There will be a spring Arbor Day celebration on March 28, when 15 trees will be planted. Anyone interested in helping will meet at the front of the campus near the flag poles at 9 a.m. Planting will take place from 9:15 a.m. to noon.
What does replacing fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs have to do with solar-heated washing machines, energy audits, resin-hardened clothing or a color-coded map that illustrates air pollution? They’re all proposals from UC Riverside students to help the campus achieve the University of California’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2025.
The university received 38 proposals in less than three weeks for UC President Janet Neapolitan’s new Sustainability Student Fellowship/Internship Program, the most received by any UC campus, said UCR’s Director of Sustainability John Cook.
Napolitano’s office provided $7,500 to each of the UC’s 10 campuses in February to encourage students to get involved in the UC’s carbon neutrality and sustainability goals, which include getting each campus back to the same level of emissions it had in 1990. That’s a huge task for UC Riverside, Cook said, because the campus has grown from about 6,000 students in 1990 to more than 22,000 today, with expanded research programs and new schools of engineering and medicine that didn’t exist before.
“We have the biggest challenge of all the UCs, but we can figure it out,” Cook said. “We have the willpower and brainpower on campus to do it, and that’s what this fellowship does; it puts the brainpower and student engagement together, so we can all be a part of the solution and it’s not just something that happens at the physical plant somewhere. It’s the whole campus working together.”
The five winning proposals will each receive $1,500 to complete their projects by the end of 2015, said Matt Barth, UCR professor of electrical and chemical engineering and a member of the UC Global Climate Leadership Counsel. Barth and Cook helped choose the winning proposals along with UCR Professor of Geology Mary Droser, who sits on the education subcommittee of the UC Global Climate Leadership Counsel.
“I would definitely say all the applications were great,” said Barth. “We were extremely surprised to get so many applications with such a short turnaround period. This fellowship is giving students a chance to show off their ideas while helping us meet our sustainability goals, and they’ve given us some pretty good stuff.”
UCR’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 demonstrates what makes UCR and Riverside a catalyst for innovation. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
Lithium-sulfur batteries have been a hot topic in battery research because of their ability to produce up to 10 times more energy than conventional batteries, which means they hold great promise for applications in energy-demanding electric vehicles.
However, there have been fundamental road blocks to commercializing these sulfur batteries. One of the main problems is the tendency for lithium and sulfur reaction products, called lithium polysulfides, to dissolve in the battery’s electrolyte and travel to the opposite electrode permanently. This causes the battery’s capacity to decrease over its lifetime.
Researchers in the Bourns College of Engineeringat the University of California, Riverside have investigated a strategy to prevent this “polysulfide shuttling” phenomenon by creating nano-sized sulfur particles, and coating them in silica (SiO2), otherwise known as glass.
Ph.D. students in Cengiz Ozkan’s and Mihri Ozkan’s research groups have been working on designing a cathode material in which silica cages “trap” polysulfides having a very thin shell of silica, and the particles’ polysulfide products now face a trapping barrier – a glass cage. The team used an organic precursor to construct the trapping barrier.
“Our biggest challenge was to optimize the process to deposit SiO2 – not too thick, not too thin, about the thickness of a virus”, Mihri Ozkan said.
Graduate students Brennan Campbell, Jeffrey Bell, Hamed Hosseini Bay, Zachary Favors, and Robert Ionescu found that silica-caged sulfur particles provided a substantially higher battery performance, but felt further improvement was necessary because of the challenge with the breakage of the SiO2 shell.
“We have decided to incorporate mildly reduced graphene oxide (mrGO), a close relative of graphene, as a conductive additive in cathode material design, to provide mechanical stability to the glass caged structures”, Cengiz Ozkan said.
The new generation cathode provided an even more dramatic improvement than the first design, since the team engineered both a polysulfide-trapping barrier and a flexible graphene oxide blanket that harnesses the sulfur and silica together during cycling.
“The design of the core-shell structure essentially builds in the functionality of polysulfide surface-adsorption from the silica shell, even if the shell breaks”, Brennan Campbell said. “Incorporation of mrGO serves the system well in holding the polysulfide traps in place. Sulfur is similar to oxygen in its reactivity and energy yet still comes with physical challenges, and our new cathode design allows sulfur to expand and contract, and be harnessed.”
This advancement in battery technology is an outstanding model of Seizing Our Destiny’scatalyst for innovation pillar. The students and staff at UC Riverside cultivate and support ideas, research, and products that accelerate the common good for all. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riveside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.