Georgia Southern University has received two grants totaling $105,000 in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition for Sustainability. Mechanical Engineering students won for their design using alcohol and biofuel to power a diesel engine and lower emissions.
The students and Valentin Soloiu, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering and the Allen E. Paulson Chair of Renewable Energy, received the award in April during the competition on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; however, they were just notified about the grant money that will be used to further develop their design and bring it to the marketplace.
“Students will work on formulating new biofuels and hybrid combustion technologies,” explained Soloiu. “They will develop hands-on projects in which they will use engineering-specific tools and analyses and report their results in a technical poster and a scientific paper. The project will include increasing participation of female, minority and other students underrepresented in engineering research careers.”
The University won a $15,000 EPA grant after the first stage of the competition to further develop their prototype. Students spent three years in the Renewable Energy and Engines Lab working to improve the design of Low Temperature Combustion (LTC) diesel engines which already reduce nitrogen oxide and soot emissions by more than 50 percent. Their award-winning diesel engine operates on n-Butanol and cottonseed oil which are biofuels produced from sustainable sources.
“This competition plays an important role in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers to better understand, and through innovation and ingenuity more effectively solve, our world’s complex environmental problems,” said Lek Kadeli, principal deputy administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The P3 program gives this nation’s students the opportunity to apply their creative ideas to real world situations and protect our nation’s environment in a more sustainable fashion.”
The Allen E. Paulson Chair of Renewable Energy at Georgia Southern University, Valentin Soloiu, Ph.D., has been awarded a $360,000 Research for Undergraduates (REU) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The University program, under Soloiu’s direction, will start next summer and be available to students across the country to explore solutions to energy problems.
“This puts us in an extraordinary position to reach out to undergraduate engineering students nationally and help boost their interest in research with hands-on learning,” said Soloiu. “The program that I have designed will allow students to perform research on our campus, and they will work on formulating new biofuels, hybrid combustion technologies, renewable energy, automotive engineering and many other areas.”
Georgia Southern will collaborate with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) to recruit participants for the program. Ten students will be selected to spend ten weeks on campus every summer for the next three years. They will rotate through work stations in the Renewable Energy and Engines Lab while broadening their horizons about engineering careers.
The program titled “Undergraduate Research in Green-Engineered New Transportation Technologies (URGENTT)” aims to increase students’ interest in conducting research, expand basic understanding of interdisciplinary concepts through hands-on-learning, enhance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) problem-solving skills and develop an ability to apply those topics to a research problem.
Eight Georgia Southern faculty will also support the summer program including the College of Engineering and Information Technology, the College of Science and Technology and the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship. The Department of English will offer assistance in teaching students to write reports and communicate effectively during presentations.
“We want to do everything we can to prepare the next generation of scientific leaders,” explained Soloiu. “I expect this grant will continue to elevate us to a national level and generate a lot of interest in what we have to offer at Georgia Southern. Maybe these undergraduates who spend their summers with us will return to our campus and pursue master’s degrees.” Learn more about the Renewable Energy and Engines Lab by visiting http://cec.georgiasouthern.edu/engine/.