A team of students from the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for a reusable storm drain filter that is less costly and more environmentally friendly than currently available models.
The key innovation is the calibrated indicator and filter system. The filter is made of 100 percent recycled textiles. The indicator is a 3-D printed device made with the same material as the filter and a translucent biodegradable plastic that includes a polymer that changes from a powder to a gel when it is saturated with oil and/or heavy metals and needs to be replaced.
The team received the $15,000 as a phase one winner of EPA’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) competition. Team members are: Franklin Gonzalez, Karim Masarweh, Johny Nguyen, Diego Novoa, Kenneth Orellana and Taljinder Kaur. With the exception of Kaur, who is an MBA student, all the students are seniors and either environmental or chemical engineering majors. Kawai Tam, a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering, advises them.
Bourns College of Engineering 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 ideas, research, and scholars.
Beetles not native to Southern California are causing much damage to trees, including those that bear avocados, a lucrative California crop. Scientists at the University of California-Riverside are fighting this problem with the help of 3-D printers.
The invasive beetles are from Southeast Asia, and scientists aren’t sure how they got to California. One guess is that they were in packing materials used in shipping products to California from Asia.
The beetle, technically known as the polyphagous shot hole borer, drills holes into a critical part of the tree, disrupting the flow of water from the roots to the leaves. It also carries a fungus in its mouth that harms the trees. The fungus grows and further clogs the vessels that carry nutrients and water to the tree, eventually starving it to death.
Entomologists have been trying different treatments to kill the beetles and the fungus. But it was time-consuming and difficult to learn whether the treatments worked until a 3-D-printed bug trap was developed to place over the holes in the trees.
If the beetle is still active, that means the pesticide is not working. Scientists say a 3-D-printed trap speeds up the data-collection process and makes the results reliable. The 3-D printer allows researchers to easily tailor their traps to the insects they are studying.
It’s a relatively inexpensive tool that can create new possibilities for researchers to help them get results.
The creation of this 3-D printed trap is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
The University of California, Riverside will participate in the Cool Campus Challenge, a systemwide UC event to get the word out about UC President Janet Napolitano’s carbon neutrality initiative.
“UC campuses are already leading the world in so many ways. Now we’re on our way to becoming the very first university system to wipe out our carbon footprint for good,” said President Napolitano. “It’s a daring goal, and one that we can only meet if we work together, which is why the Challenge is so important.”
Through commitment and dedication, UCR is always improving and making strides in becoming a green machine. Exemplifying Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, UCR values the cultivation and support of innovation within our community acting as a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
The Cool Campus Challenge is a friendly competition that begins on Tuesday, Oct. 6 and will run through Dec. 10. Between all the UC campuses, the challenge aims to motivate and reward staff, faculty and students for reducing their carbon footprint in support of the UC system reach its Carbon Neutrality goals – as well as create a culture of sustainability across campus.
A solar power project on Riverside’s closed Tequesquite landfill is now providing power to the city’s grid. With a 7.5-megawatt installation that’s up and running, solar energy provides more than 4 percent of Riverside’s power supply.
A 20-acre array of about 25,000 solar panels that now stretches across the closed Tequesquite landfill south of the Santa Ana River is one of the largest municipal solar projects in California, said Bill Kelly, vice president of SunPower, the San Jose-based company that built the project.
SunPower built the array as part of a 25-year deal under which Riverside Public Utilities will buy power the project generates. As of Wednesday, Sept. 9, the panels were plugged in and feeding power to the city’s electric grid, Riverside Public Utilities project manager Ron Barry said.
With the growing concern of climate change and pollution from fossil fuels, Riverside is taking steps to reduce their foot print on the environment and promote the quality of life for all through intelligent growth of their city.
A $250,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation will help fund hands-on experiences in the field of sustainability and health technologies for the chemical engineering department at California Baptist University’s Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering.
Dr. Mark Anklam, chemical engineering chair and professor, said a large portion of the funds have already been invested in purchasing new equipment to create additional chemical engineering labs.
These labs will allow students to work on sustainable technology projects such as CO2removal, reverse osmosis, fuel cells technology and purifying water, he said.
Grants like this help equip CBU’s engineering students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. CBU’s effort to develop programs that meet the needs of employers is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny intelligent growth pillar.
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.”