What's New


How EPA Calculates the Cost of Environmental Compliance for Electricity Generators
IEEE Spectrum - February 2017

"People pay for electricity directly, out of pocket, when they pay their electric bill. But they may also pay in an indirect way, when they bear the environmental and health costs associated with pollution from electricity generation. With a new EPA administrator recently installed, how these costs are calculated is under new scrutiny. The University of Texas Energy Institute’s Full Cost of Electricity Study includes estimates of these environmental pollution costs as one part of the full system cost of electricity."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


Students Harvest Success by Taking on a City’s Food Desert
Engineering360 - February 2017

"Engineering students from Rutgers University in New Jersey are part of an effort to end a food desert in one corner of the Garden State.

Led by Carson Hess and Jakub Chmiel, the undergraduate students are working in Camden, N.J., across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, to help residents there turn vacant lots into gardens. Altogether, some 4,000 lots are owned by the city, which turns them over to residents who agree to plant gardens and tend them."

Read more at Engineering360


'Forest Cities': The Radical Plan to Save China From Air Pollution
The Guardian - February 2017

"When Stefano Boeri imagines the future of urban China he sees green, and lots of it. Office blocks, homes and hotels decked from top to toe in a verdant blaze of shrubbery and plant life; a breath of fresh air for metropolises that are choking on a toxic diet of fumes and dust.

Last week, the Italian architect, famed for his tree-clad Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) skyscraper complex in Milan, unveiled plans for a similar project in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing."

Read more at The Guardian


City Solar Power Potential and Road Network Size Linked
IEEE Spectrum - January 2017

"Scientists could estimate a city's solar power potential by analyzing the size of its road network, a new study finds.

Inspired by studies on the relationships between blood vessel networks and a body's size and metabolic rates, study author Sara Najem, a physicist at Lebanon's National Center for Remote Sensing in Beirut, investigated what connections might exist between different elements of a city's infrastructure, such as its road network and its solar potential. "I am always seeking to draw analogies between living systems and cities," Najem says. Najem will detail her findings in the journal Physical Review E."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


Maximizing Solar Power: Not only a Matter of Cell Efficiency
Computing Now - January 2017

"Growing components of our global energy ecosystem, renewable energy sources generated approximately 23 percent of total worldwide electricity in 2015, according to the International Energy Agency. After hydro- and wind power, solar power — or photovoltaic (PV) energy — is the third-largest renewable energy source. According to SolarPower Europe, PV energy is helping power 25 million homes in Europe and is becoming increasingly cost-competitive worldwide. Beyond widespread employment in vehicles, homes, power plants, and satellites, PV energy is also increasingly being adopted as a form of investment—in which the economic benefit to investors is the most important aspect."

Read more at Computing Now


AI and Big Data vs. Air Pollution
IEEE Spectrum - December 2016

In 2016, the smog in Beijing and other Chinese cities was so thick that 1,200 factories were ordered to shut down or reduce production. To help reduce air pollution, the city government is using new tools that combine physics models and machine learning to more accurately forecast air-quality as well as estimate the consequences of shutting down factories so the city can better assess the impact it will have on economic growth.

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


Six places where renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels
Engadget - December 2016

"In the race to reduce the world's reliance on fossil fuels, cost is a huge factor. It's taken years, but advances in technology and increases in both efficiency and output have helped bring down the expense of renewable energy, which has in turn increased demand. Globally, fossil fuels are still cheaper than these alternative sources, but there are a few places around the world where clean energy is winning, dollar for dollar..."

Read more at Engadget


How to Create Clean Water with Less Energy
Engineering.com - November 2016

"Desalination through reverse osmosis (RO) has long offered one solution to help meet global water needs in the face of population growth, development and climate change. However, removing salt from water is energy-intensive. A team of MIT researchers has responded by creating new designs for reverse osmosis desalination that significantly exceeds the energy efficiency of other techniques..."

Read more at Engineering.com


An Internet of Frugal Things for Small Agriculture
IEEE Technical Community Spotlight - September 2016

"According to a study by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the United Nations Environment Programme, approximately 2.5 billion people live directly from agricultural production systems, either as full-or part-time farmers, or as members of farming households that support farming activities. These farms, run by “smallholders,” as they are called, face complications as there is no universally accepted definition of a “small farm.” According to the report, “Overall, smallholder farmers are characterized by marginalization, in terms of accessibility, resources, information, technology, capital and assets, but there is great variation in the degree to which each of these applies.” These variances are problematic across the globe; however, are particularly evident in Africa, where small-scale farms produce more than 70 percent of food supply, by recent estimates. Since so little is known and reported about these farms, including location, utilization of labor, operational challenges, and overall productivity, the lack of transparency regarding efficiency of each farm leads to leariness from investors and resellers."

Read more at IEEE Technical Community Spotlight


IEEE Green Tech Consensus Building — Smart Grid, Energy Efficiency and Communication Standards Meeting Renewable Energy Goals
Renewable Energy World - September 2016

A look at current IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) efforts under development to bring renewable energy solutions online. In addition to providing the interconnectivity for renewable energy in a sustainable Smart Grid ecosystem, IEEE-SA also addresses the application, communication, and management features necessary to ensure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

Read more at Renewable Energy World


Tackling Air Quality Prediction in South Africa With Machine Learning
IEEE Spectrum - August 2016

"Machine learning is nipping at the heels of conventional physical modeling of air quality predictions in more and more places. The latest is Johannesburg, South Africa, where computer engineer Tapiwa M. Chiwewe at the newly opened IBM Research lab is adapting IBM’s air quality prediction software to local needs and adding new capabilities. The work is an expansion of the so-called Green Horizons initiative, in which IBM researchers partnered with Chinese government researchers and officials, starting two years ago."

Read more at IEEE Spectrum


The Engineers Who Uncovered Wrongdoing in Flint, Mich., and at Volkswagen
The Institute - February 2016

"The Institute would like to pay tribute to the teams of engineers at Virginia Tech and West Virginia University that exposed big scandals in recent months.

Engineers at Virginia Tech in September were the first to detect alarming amounts of lead coming from Flint, Mich., water taps after officials there had switched the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River. After the change, lead and other contaminants leached from pipes flowing into homes. Lead exposure can cause developmental and other health problems, particularly in children. Many effects of lead poisoning are irreversible, according to the World Health Organization.

And after a team of engineers at West Virginia University, in Morgantown, examined Volkswagen diesel models, the German car giant admitted it cheated on tests to hide the amount of nitrogen oxide its vehicles were emitting. Nitrogen oxide causes air pollution and can lead to adverse respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased symptoms in people with asthma, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)."

Read more at The Institute