BAE Students Awarded at 2015 ESPP Research Symposium

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Photo of Gina Masell presenting her posterPosted on November 10, 2015

BAE undergraduate student Gina Masell took home first prize at the 2015 Environmental Science & Policy Program (ESPP) Research Symposium after presenting her project "Small Scale Anaerobic Digestion and Electrical Generation in Ghana."  Dr. Dana Kirk is advisor to the project.  

Many small communities in Ghana have minimal access to basic amenities such as wastewater treatment and electrical generation. Family homes in these communities often have 8 or more people living in them who currently use conventional pit latrine toilets that have adverse environmental impacts including eutrophication of local water sources and emitting greenhouse gasses that are released directly into the atmosphere. These communities can benefit from a sustainable anaerobic digestion technology to treat their wastewater and produce a value added biogas containing methane that can be converted into electricity and sent to a local micro-grid. Electricity is needed in these communities to provide basic lighting and charging applications for cell phones and computers. Implementing an integrated wastewater treatment and electrical generation system will allow for a sustainable use of waste streams and provide sanitary wastewater disposal. In order to apply this design to multiple communities with varying parameters, a fully integrated excel spreadsheet was developed wherein a user can input site specific parameters and output an anaerobic digestion design applicable to their needs which allows for widespread design application and ease of use.

BAE graduate student Mauricio Bustamante wins honorable mention for poster presentation for his project "Clean Energy Production in Rural Central America Using On-site Solar-Biopower Generation."

Economical on-site renewable energy systems using agricultural waste streams would help rural communities in Central America increase access to affordable clean energy, advance development of low emission and high efficiency energy technologies, and alleviate environmental impacts of the waste streams. The purpose of the study was to develop and deploy an integrated small-scale self-sustained waste-to-clean energy generation system producing value-added by- products such as fertilizers for local farming applications and reclaiming water. The specific objectives are: 1) Optimize local thermophilic anaerobic microbial consortia on mixed waste streams; 2) Design and implement the integrated portable solar-biopower generation system on mixed waste streams at UCR; and 3) Evaluate technical and economic performance of the system for various rural scenarios in Central America. Correspondingly, a small-scale portable demonstration solar-biopower generation system has been successfully developed to convert agricultural waste streams such as animal manure, crop residues, and food wastes into clean electricity and heat, reclaim the wastewater, and produce valuable byproducts.