Tag Archives: UC Riverside

Novel Pretreatment Could Cut Biofuel Costs By 30 Percent Or More

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in UCR Today on February 23, 2015.)

Charles Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside. Photo Credit UCR Today
Charles Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside. Photo Credit UCR Today

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have invented a novel pretreatment technology that could cut the cost of biofuels production by about 30 percent or more by dramatically reducing the amount of enzymes needed to breakdown the raw materials that form biofuels.

As partners in the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC), the team from the Bourns College of Engineering Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) have shown that this new operation called Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation (CELF) could eliminate about 90 percent of the enzymes needed for biological conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels compared to prior practice. This development could mean reducing enzyme costs from about $1 per gallon of ethanol to about 10 cents or less.

The BioEnergy Science Center is a U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center focused on enhancing science and technology to reduce the cost of biomass conversion through support by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the Department of Energy Office of Science..

“As recent months have shown, petroleum prices are inherently unstable and will likely return to high prices soon as expensive sources are taken off line,” said Professor Charles Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside. “We have created a transformative technology that has the potential to make biofuels an economic sustainable alternative to petroleum-based fuels.”

“These findings are very significant because they establish a new pretreatment process that can dramatically reduce enzyme loadings and costs, thereby improving the competitiveness for biological conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels,” said Wyman, who has focused on understanding and advancing biofuels technologies for more than 30 years. “Understanding the mechanisms responsible for achieving these intriguing results can also suggest even more powerful paths to improving the economics of converting non-edible biomass into sustainable fuels.”

This advancement in biofuels is an outstanding model of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst 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.

For the full article, click here.

Sophomore Girls Learn The Power Of STEM With Inspire Her Mind Conference

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in the RUSD news feed on March 2, 2015.)

Photo Credit: RUSD
Photo Credit: RUSD

About 150 sophomore girls from across RUSD had the chance to explore possibilities available to them in the STEM fields through the Inspire Her Mind program. This unique program, held at Bourns Engineering, included a special presentation by Dr. Pamela Clute, a longtime mathematics professor who currently serves as special assistant to the chancellor at UC Riverside. The event also included a chance for girls to learn about the unique ways that science contributes to the world and see first-hand the ways that math and science impact the world around them – like how a green screen works in film. They also heard from a panel of women in science who encouraged them to try out these fields for themselves.

Riverside’s initiative to promote and encourage STEM education is a model of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar.  STEM education plays a vital role in strengthening our community’s workforce and job growth.  Riverside works around the clock everyday to improve the quality of life for all through intelligent growth.

New Paper-like Material Could Boost Electric Vehicle Batteries

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in UCR Today on February 17, 2015.)

Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan, both professors in the Bourns College of Engineering. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan, both professors in the Bourns College of Engineering. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries. It has the potential to boost by several times the specific energy, or amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery.

This paper-like material is composed of sponge-like silicon nanofibers more than 100 times thinner than human hair. It could be used in batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics.

The findings were just published in a paper, “Towards Scalable Binderless Electrodes: Carbon Coated Silicon Nanofiber Paper via Mg Reduction of Electrospun SiO2 Nanofibers,” in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. The authors were Mihri Ozkan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, Cengiz S. Ozkan, a professor of mechanical engineering, and six of their graduate students: Zach Favors, Hamed Hosseini Bay, Zafer Mutlu, Kazi Ahmed, Robert Ionescu and Rachel Ye.

Scanning electron microscope images of (a) SiO2 nanofibers after drying, (b) SiO2 nanofibers under high magnification (c) silicon nanofibers after etching, and (d) silicon nanofibers under high magnification. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Scanning electron microscope images of (a) SiO2 nanofibers after drying, (b) SiO2 nanofibers under high magnification (c) silicon nanofibers after etching, and (d) silicon nanofibers under high magnification. Photo Credit: UCR Today

The nanofibers were produced using a technique known aselectrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), a chemical compound frequently used in the semiconductor industry. The nanofibers are then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.

Conventionally produced lithium-ion battery anodes are made using copper foil coated with a mixture of graphite, a conductive additive, and a polymer binder. But, because the performance of graphite has been nearly tapped out, researchers are experimenting with other materials, such as silicon, which has a specific capacity, or electrical charge per unit weight of the battery, nearly 10 times higher than graphite.

The problem with silicon is that is suffers from significant volume expansion, which can quickly degrade the battery. The silicon nanofiber structure created in the Ozkan’s labs circumvents this issue and allows the battery to be cycled hundreds of times without significant degradation.

“Eliminating the need for metal current collectors and inactive polymer binders while switching to an energy dense material such as silicon will significantly boost the range capabilities of electric vehicles,” Favors said.

(a) Schematic representation of the electrospinning process and subsequent reduction process. Digital photographs of (b) as-spun SiO2 nanofibers paper, (c) etched silicon nanofiber paper, and (d) carbon-coated silicon nanofiber paper as used in the lithium-ion half-cell configuration. Photo Credit: UCR Today
(a) Schematic representation of the electrospinning process and subsequent reduction process. Digital photographs of (b) as-spun SiO2 nanofibers paper, (c) etched silicon nanofiber paper, and (d) carbon-coated silicon nanofiber paper as used in the lithium-ion half-cell configuration. Photo Credit: UCR Today

This technology also solves a problem that has plagued free-standing, or binderless, electrodes for years: scalability. Free-standing materials grown using chemical vapor deposition, such as carbon nanotubes or silicon nanowires, can only be produced in very small quantities (micrograms). However, Favors was able to produce several grams of silicon nanofibers at a time even at the lab scale.

The researchers’ future work involves implementing the silicon nanofibers into a pouch cell format lithium-ion battery, which is a larger scale battery format that can be used in EVs and portable electronics.

The research is supported by Temiz Energy Technologies. The UC Riverside Office of Technology Commercialization has filed patents for inventions reported in the research paper.

This advancement in battery technology is an outstanding model of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst 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.

For the complete article, click here.

Rivera Conference To Look At Health Issues

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Suzanne Hurt and published in The Press Enterprise on Feb 16, 2015.)

The 27th annual Tomás Rivera Conference at UC Riverside will explore healthcare for some of society’s most vexing concerns – mental health, addiction and aging – and Latino medical workers and artists who use film, theater, music and comedy to spotlight health challenges and promote healing.

The conference, whose theme is “Community and Wellness: Latinas/os, Medicine and the New Health Humanities,” will be on Friday, Feb. 20, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in UC Riverside’s Highlander Union Building 302, according to a UCR news release.

The 27th annual Tomás Rivera Conference is set for Friday, Feb. 20, in honor of Rivera, who died in 1984, five years after becoming UC Riverside's chancellor. Photo Credit: UC Riverside
The 27th annual Tomás Rivera Conference is set for Friday, Feb. 20, in honor of Rivera, who died in 1984, five years after becoming UC Riverside’s chancellor. Photo Credit: UC Riverside

Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside; and conference Director Tiffany Ana López, a UCR theatre professor and the university’s Tomás Rivera endowed chair, will make opening remarks.

Playwright/actor Luis Alfaro will perform his solo play “St. Jude,” about his experience taking care of his father at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, 3834 Main St. in Riverside.

The conference will include theater and music performances, a screening of the documentary “Code Black,” workshops, discussions and a roundtable. The workshops will be led by health professionals, artists, activists and scholars.

The conference is free, but reservations are required by the morning of the conference to reserve lunch and a place in an afternoon workshop, where space is limited. Parking costs $6 to $8.

As a community, we promote health and wellness in all forms. This attention to health and wellness makes Riverside a Location of Choice for people seeking a healthy lifestyle.

For the complete article, click here.

UCR Launches Initiative To Deal With Inland Poverty

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Fielding Buck and published in The Press Enterprise on February 10, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Carrie Rosema
Photo Credit: Carrie Rosema

A strategy to study, teach about and deal with Inland poverty was announced Tuesday at UC Riverside.

The UCR School of Public Policy will launch the Blum Initiative on Global and Regional Poverty this fall.

The announcement was made during an appearance by former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who was on campus to talk to public policy students and attend the screening of a documentary about him.

Reich praised Riverside as a “roll-up-your-sleeves” kind of community and UCR as a school that provides opportunities for students with financial needs. Exemplifying Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar, Riverside and UCR both demonstrate that we’re a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

“There’s probably no place that I know of that better exemplifies what higher education ought to be doing,” Reich said.

Reich is a senior fellow of the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley, which is working with UCR on the intiative.

Richard Blum, Photo Credit: UCR Today
Richard Blum, Photo Credit: UCR Today

It was launched by a gift of $250,000 from the center’s founder, UC regent Richard C. Blum, who is married to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

UCR chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and UC President Janet Napolitano both matched the gift out of their budgets, according to a UCR press release.

The initiative will be interdisciplinary and results oriented, according to Anil Deolalikar, founding dean of the school. It will include partnerships with local non-governmental organizations.

“Poverty is not unique, right?” he said in an interview before the announcement. “Every place in the work has poverty and there are many places in the world that have tackled the problem of poverty with good results. We will be trying to glean lessons from around the world so that we can use some of those lessons to solve poverty problems here in the Inland Empire.”

Plans include to establish an undergraduate minor in poverty and a focus area in public policy master degree program.

For the complete article, click here.

Providing Leadership Training for High School Girls

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in UCR Today on January 27, 2015.)

About 150 high school girls from the Riverside Unified School District will learn about leadership and the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at a Feb. 5 event led by a University of California, Riverside educator.

The event, billed “Inspire Your Mind,” is being led by Pamela Clute, who has been a mathematics educator for more than 40 years and is currently special assistant to the chancellor at UC Riverside. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Bourns, Inc. in Riverside.

Pamela Clute, special assistant to the chancellor. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Pamela Clute, special assistant to the chancellor. Photo Credit: UCR Today

The girls, who are sophomores, were selected by their mathematics and science teachers. Their teachers and parents, as well as members of the media are also invited to attend.

The Inspire Your Mind program aims to inspire and motivate students to pursue and stay engaged in STEM subjects in high school, a time when girls often lose interest in those fields. The ultimate goal is to develop the next generation of female thinkers and doers through meaningful interaction with role models and mentors.

“There are many great STEM things happening in the Inland Empire for elementary and middle school students,” Clute said. “Strengthening STEM experiences for high schools girls will be a welcome addition.”

RUSD, Athena of Riverside and Bourns, Inc. are collaborating on the program, which will emphasize person and professional success and leadership development.

At the event, the girls will receive a “pep talk” from Clute, hear from a panel of women in STEM fields and take part in hands-on, science fair type activities that relate to STEM fields. The UCR Science Ambassadors, a group of undergraduate students in the university’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, will help with the activities.

Lynn Carmen Day, RUSD’s chief academic officer, said she is excited about how the program can expose young women to the possibilities available to them in the sciences. Programs like this exemplify Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar, by bringing people together around a common interest of inspiring young girls to become leaders in STEM fields.

“RUSD believes in a strong district wide STEM program for all students,” she said. “‘Inspire Your Mind’ provides young high school women the unique opportunity to engage in a deeper focus on post-secondary and career pathways for females in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.”

To read the full article, click here.

UCR Program Aims To Close Racial Gap In Science Education

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sandra Stokley and published in The Press Enterprise on February 1, 2015.)

Photo Credit: David Bauman, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: David Bauman, The Press Enterprise

On a recent sun-drenched Saturday morning – when most teenagers were playing sports, hanging with friends at the mall or sleeping in – a group of Inland middle school students sat in a UC Riverside classroom pondering the concept of spatial relationships.

Under the tutelage of retired aerospace engineer Michael Batie, they used graph paper, scissors and glue sticks to construct 3-D models to help them visualize how objects relate to each other in space.

They are the first students in the 10-week pilot University STEM Academy that offers instruction and mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to sixth- through ninth-graders. The goal is to boost interest in those subjects and improve academic achievement. The program is aimed at, but not limited to, African-American students.

Programs like the University STEM Academy are great examples for Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Riversiders collaborate and work together to build our community and accelerate the common good for all.  We are a caring community that has great compassion and engages with one another for a better life for all.

“We need this type of program for all kids, but particularly for black kids,” said Carolyn Murray, UC Riverside psychology professor and executive director of the academy.

One floor up from the classroom, the students’ parents listened closely and took copious notes as Ann Smith Hickman explained the importance of familiarizing themselves with their child’s cumulative record, which follows students from elementary school through high school graduation.

Parent participation was a requirement for students to enroll in the academy.

Riverside County Office of Education data shows that African-American students lag behind their white and Latino peers in math and science, are less likely to graduate and more likely to drop out of school, Murray said.

The academy is the outgrowth of a dialogue by Inland community activists, educators and clergy on how to address that racial achievement gap, Murray said.

The academy was launched in September with seed funding from UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox and money Murray raised at a Shrimp and Grits Champagne Brunch.

Students meet for six hours on every other Saturday from early October through mid-March.

To read the full article, click here.

UC Riverside Applications Up Almost 10 Percent

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by David Bauman and published in The Press Enterprise on January 13, 2015.)

UC Riverside's mascot, Scotty, will likely have a record number of students to energize next year. The school received a record number of applicants. (Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise)
UC Riverside’s mascot, Scotty, will likely have a record number of students to energize next year. The school received a record number of applicants. (Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise)

 

Student applications for admission to UC Riverside this fall are up nearly 10 percent over last year. An increase was seen at campuses across the UC system, but Riverside’s 9.8 percent rise was well ahead of the 5.8 average for all campuses. Only UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz had higher increases.

Riverside led all campuses with its increase in student transfer applications. That number was up 7.9 percent.

In a statement, UCR’s director of undergraduate admissions, Emily Engelschall, said the school’s growing reputation is helping it attract more students.

“UCR is consistently ranked among the nation’s finest academic institutions, receiving special praise for the global impact of our research, our community service and our contributions to the public good,” Engelschall said. “These are some of the reasons that only begin to scratch the surface as to what attracts potential students to the UC Riverside campus.” UCR’s outstanding scholastic achievements have made UCR and Riverside a location of choice for many college students.

UCR received a record 47,669 applications for fall admission. Many students apply to multiple UC campuses; the average number is four. The school’s total enrollment this year is 21,700.

The campus had the second-highest percentage of Latino applicants. Those identifying as Latinos made up 42.3 percent of the 34,000 applicants.

For the full article, click here.

Riverside Ranks 5th For Cities To Live In For Empty Nesters

(The article contains excerpts from the article written by Ann Brenoff and published in The Huffington Post on January 8, 2015.)

mall at night

When the kids are gone and you no longer care about the quality of neighborhood schools, a new realm of possible places to live opens up. Rent.com compiled a list of the 10 top cities for empty nesters — their first — based on low crime, lower-than-average living costs, climate and convenient access to travel.

Rent.com’s Senior Brand Manager Niccole Schreck noted that there has been a cultural shift toward urban living among empty nesters. “For that reason,” she told The Huffington Post, “it is not surprising to see the cities that made our list are typically outside major urban markets with a plethora of activities, excitement and culture available to renters over 50.”

With the growing number of senior citizens in the U.S. it is important that cities

With the growing number of senior citizens in the U.S. it’s important that cities have great weather, apple recreational activities, and access to major highways. Being located in the heart of Southern California, Riverside provides all of those things at a reasonable price making it location of choice for not only senior citizens but for people of all ages.

5. Riverside, California
College towns make great retirement places because they come with a host of built-in cultural activities, not to mention pet sitters when you want to travel. UC Riverside is a great campus, and is also home to the Riverside Sports Complex. Riverside is also home to the parent Washington navel orange tree -– mother to millions of navel orange trees the world over and one of the two original navel orange trees in California.

To read the full article, click here.

 

Battle Of The Bugs: Good News For California Citrus Growers

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Iqbal Pittalwala and published in UCR Today on Dec, 9 2014.)

The first release of a new wasp drew a crowd, mostly people who are personally involved in raising wasps. Photo Credit: Michael Lewis
The first release of a new wasp drew a crowd, mostly people who are personally involved in raising wasps. Photo Credit: Michael Lewis

Toward the end of 2011, Mark Hoddle, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, first released into a citrus grove on campus a batch of Pakistani wasps that are natural enemies of the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the vector of a bacterium that causes Huanglongbing (HLB), a lethal citrus disease.

On Tuesday, Dec. 16, Hoddle, the director of UCR’s Center for Invasive Species Research, released the wasp Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis, a second species of ACP natural enemy, also from the Punjab region of Pakistan.  Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and others involved in rearing insects on and off campus helped release the tiny wasps from vials.

Photo Credit: Mike Lewis, CISR, UC Riverside
Photo Credit: Mike Lewis, CISR, UC Riverside

Successful biocontrol of citrus pests in California sometimes requires more than one species of natural enemy because citrus is grown in a variety of different habitats – hot desert areas like Coachella, cooler coastal zones like Ventura, and intermediate areas like Riverside/Redlands and northern San Diego County.

Hoddle’s lab has developed a release plan for Diaphorencyrtus. Initial releases will focus on parts of Southern California with ACP infestations in urban areas but whereTamarixia has not been released.

“This is because we want to minimize competition between these two wasp species in the initial establishment phase,” Hoddle explained. “Further, we will work closely with the California Department of Food and Agriculture on identifying places to concentrate our release efforts.”

Hoddle’s plan is to gradually transition production of the new wasp over to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) then onto private insectaries interested in rearing this natural enemy. For the first 12-18 months, UCR and then later the CDFA will be leading the rearing and release program for this new ACP natural enemy.

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.

About ACP-HLB:

ACP-HLB is a serious threat to California’s annual $2 billion citrus industry. This insect-disease combination has cost Florida’s citrus industry $1.3 billion in losses, production costs have increased by 40 percent, and more than 6,000 jobs have been lost as citrus trees have died and the industry has contracted.

When ACP feeds on citrus leaves and stems, it damages the tree by injecting a toxin that causes leaves to twist and die. The more serious issue is that ACP spreads a bacterium that causes HLB. Trees with HLB have mottled leaves and small bitter fruit.  Trees die within about 8 years of infection. To date there is no known cure for HLB.

To read the complete article, click here.