By M. Therese Shakra
March 30, 2009
Casenya Groner, an Oregon State University student in Chemical Engineering, competes in NMSU’s 2008 International Environmental Design Contest, which focuses on energy, environment and water issues. She worked on Task 5, Separation of Water from Emulsified Oil. The 2009 Institute for Energy and the Environment design contest will be at the Pan American Center April 5-8.
As part of the federal government’s stimulus bill, almost $39 billion is to be spent by the U.S. Department of Energy with an emphasis on developing clean, secure, energy technology through scientific research, commercial development, and infrastructure improvements. New Mexico State University’s Institute for Energy and the Environment in the College of Engineering has for 19 years followed a similar directive in global energy, environment and water challenges through its International Environmental Design Contest, which will be held this year April 5-8 at the Pan American Center on NMSU campus.
The highly competitive event this year features 31 teams from 21 universities, all working on design tasks that focus on technologies to tackle renewable energy systems, including solar and wind energy, and water issues. Water, one of IEE’s subject areas, is a defining issue as it becomes to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th century, a priceless commodity. According to Environmental News Service, the World Water Forum opened in turkey this week to scarcity fears and protests. Factors cited for driving the demand for water include population growth and mobility, rising living standards, changes in food consumption, and increased energy production by hydropower and food crop biofuels.
“We started the Environmental Design Contest almost 20 years ago to address sustainability issues in energy, environment and water quality and availability. The best and brightest university students from around the globe continue to impress me every year with their ideas, discipline and vision,” said Abbas Ghassemi, executive director for IEE>
The majority of this year’s teams are taking on water-related tasks, including sulfate removal from groundwater, brackish water pre-treatment, and wind-to-water energy conservation for water treatment. Task 3, developing and demonstrating a low-cost energy efficient, simple and reliable system for use in brackish water, is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and is also relevant because IEE is doing similar research at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in the Tularosa Basin in Alamagordo. This work is particularly important in the Southwest as groundwater is often contaminated with high concentrations of salt.
The students in Las Cruces next week for the contest must present a poster and oral presentation, a written report and a bench-scale demonstration to a subset of about 50 judges. teams have the chance to win cash prizes, academic and professional recognition, as well as Intel’s Environmental Innovation Award. In addition to AWWRF, the Intel Corp., other sponsors include the DOE, Office of Naval Research, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold, Wolfram Research Inc. and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The public is welcome and encouraged to attend the contest on Tuesday, April 7 in the Pan American Center and Admission is free.