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Our Mission

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The mission of the Center for Energy and Environment is to develop technology for improved energy systems and to advance fundamental science that promotes understanding of the impacts of energy technologies on the environment and human health.

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Recent News

Person with face mask in smoggy city.
October 9, 2017

Study will Explore Air Pollution’s Impact on the Developing Fetus

New research will seek to understand the biological mechanisms that are triggered by exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and lead to lower birth weight in newborns, placing them at greater risk for chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease and hypertension later in life.  The research will be conducted in Beijing by an international team of researchers, including David Rich, Richard Miller, and Sally Thurston of the CEE.

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Stratification in Tibet sediment. Climate variations are reflected in color variations with the red sediment typically indicating a wetter climate and the white indicating a drier climate. Credit: Qingquan Meng
April 11, 2017

Tibet sediments reveal climate patterns from late Miocene, 6 million years ago

Past climate patterns offer clues for future climate effects

Carmala Garzione, director of the CEE and professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Junsheng Nie, a visiting research associate, surveyed sediment samples from the northern Tibetan Plateau's Qaidam Basin and constructed paleoclimate cycle records from the late Miocene epoch of Earth's history, which lasted from approximately 11 to 5.3 million years ago. Reconstructing past climate records can help scientists determine both natural patterns and the ways in which future glacial events and greenhouse gas emissions may affect global systems.

Photo credit: Qingquan Meng

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William D. Jones
February 8, 2017

State of Energy with New Administration

William D. Jones, the Charles F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry and Associate Director of the CEE, was interviewed by New 8 reporter James Gilbert. Professor Jones commented on the possible changes for clean energy under the new presidency.

See the interview >

News Archive

The Hidden Threat from Using Wood Pellets: CO off-gassing and the solution

UR photo

December 1, 2017

3:00 pm

108 Goergen Hall, University of Rochester River Campus

Philip Hopke, PhD

Adjunct Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester Medical Center,

Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Institute for a Sustainable Environment and Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Clarkson University


ABSTRACT:
The off-gassing of carbon monoxide (CO) from stored wood pellets has been identified as a significant problem potentially resulting in adverse occupational and residential exposures. The mechanism for the production of CO from wood pellets has not been fully identified. In this study, a multiple step process has been hypothesized. The reaction is initiated by the autoxidation of unsaturated compounds including fatty acids and terpenes by molecular oxygen.  As a byproduct of these reactions, hydroxyl radicals are formed.  Then, the bulk of the CO results from the reactions of hemicellulose and hydroxyl radicals. To understand the mechanistic pathway of CO off-gassing, a number of experiments were conducted in which CO was measured and evolved organic compounds were analyzed using GC-MS. These studies identified a number of short and long chain aldehydes from the evolved gases that indicates the autoxidation mechanism. However, there is insufficient mass of these unsaturated compounds in wood to support the mass of off-gassed CO.  The role of hydroxyl radicals was investigated using a radical scavenger and its role in CO production was confirmed.  Thus, if the autoxidation initiation can be eliminated, then CO off-gassing from pellets would be substantially reduced.  Destruction of the reactive compounds with ozone led to a suppression of CO formation suggesting an approach to process the wood fiber that would result in low or no CO emission wood pellets. The process has now been tested at both laboratory and production scales and no-emissions pellets are now possible.


Dr. Philip K. Hopke is the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Clarkson University and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.   He was the founding Director of the Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science (CARES), and the Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment (ISE).  Dr. Hopke was the Chair of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), President of the American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR), and was a member of the more than a dozen National Research Council committees and a recent member of the NRC’s Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology.  He is a fellow of the International Aerosol Research Assembly, the Association for the Advancement of Science and AAAR.  He served as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the State Department during the 2008-09. Professor Hopke received his B.S. in Chemistry from Trinity College (Hartford) and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from Princeton University. He came to Clarkson in 1989.

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Request for Proposals: Pilot Projects

The University of Rochester Center for Energy & Environment (CEE) has funds to support a limited number of pilot projects. The objective of the pilot project should be to further interdisciplinary research supporting the mission of the CEE, namely to develop technology for improved energy systems and to advance fundamental science that promotes understanding of the impacts of energy technologies on the environment and human health.

Applicants may request a maximum of $15,000 for the duration of one year.

Deadlines:

Proposals are due by Monday, December 4th at 5:00 pm. PIs are encouraged, but not required, to contact CEE director Carmie Garzione at carmala.garzione@rochester.edu or at 275-3042 about proposal concepts. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of CEE faculty, and awards are expected to be made within four weeks of the final submission and must be expended within one year. Only in rare instances can funding be carried over for a second year, and must be approved by the center directors.

The full RFP is available in PDF format. The application form is available in Word format.