A collaboration between the Department of Environmental Science and the Department of Chemistry
The educational effort is lead by the PI Dr. Roberson through the Educational Initiative for a Sustainable Future HSI STEM award funded by the US Department of Education. This initiative will: 1) Strengthen Foundational Science and Renewable Energy Curricula via the creation of a Sustainability Center anchored with a "green" building and corresponding green technology laboratory as well as renovated science laboratories with up-to-date instrumentation and development of a Renewable Energy degree Specialization; 2) provide faculty development to incorporate Renewable Energy concepts in core courses of the College; and 3) develop academic support services to increase student success in STEM Courses.
Dr. Griebenow led the research efforts of the CRES in partnership with the University of Georgia (UGA), initially focusing on algae-based biofuels produced using thermochemical and anaerobic digestion processes with an award from the US Department of Defense titled "DoD STEM Research Center of Excellence in Renewable Energy". The award funded research and educational activities in several research and teaching laboratories shared between the Departments of Environmental Science and Chemistry at UPRRP, as well as satellite centers at the UPR Mayaguez (UPRM) Isla Magueyes Laboratory and the UPRM Department of Biology, our industry partner Biolipidos de Puerto Rico, and the UGA Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering. Key personnel include the PI Kai Griebenow (UPRRP) and K. C. Das (UGA), co-Director of the UGA Center. Co-PIs include Dan Geller and Ryan Adolfson at UGA; Gary Gervais, Loretta Roberson, and Liz Diaz at UPRRP; and Luis Ríos at UPRM. The award ended in August 2015.
Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainability Description
This living/learning laboratory represents a major new tool for teaching students in the College of Natural Sciences about not only critical principles in the field of renewable energy but also topics central to fundamentals of biology, chemistry, physics, math, and environmental science.
The Center will include an algal and microbial culture facility, a solar and wind energy production lab, a computer simulation lab, a biofuels lab, mentoring labs, and a unique pilot scale Green Energy Lab with more than 41,000 square feet that will allow students to experience and measure first hand whole-building energy use in the context of usage by the students themselves, adding an additional dimension and interest for the students.
The Green Energy Lab will be linked directly to core labs in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and environmental science for measurement and manipulation of real-time environmental variables such as room temperature, energy use per room, number of students in room, solar radiation, wind speed, and energy source that will be used in core course modules, the Botany and Ecology Labs, and the proposed biofuel energy systems and biogas production and use courses. In addition, students will be able to conduct independent research experiments on topics ranging from plant growth and photosynthetic rates to modeling energy yield of different biomass crops.