REFRESCH, an acronym for Researching Fresh Solutions to the Energy/ Water/ Food Challenge in Resource-Constrained Environments, is a Third Century Initiative project led by Prof. Johannes Schwank of the Energy Institute. The Third Century Initiative is a highly competitive $50 million, five-year funded research program developed by the Office of the Provost.
Mayors from across the Great Lakes region met this fall to discuss a response to this summer’s Lake Erie toxic algae outbreak that shut down the water supply for almost half a million people in Toledo and the surrounding suburbs. Bottled water ran out in stores across the area, and residents fled the city in search of clean water – an option not available to Lake Erie’s diverse and fascinating array of wildlife.
"If the shale-gas revolution succumbs to politics, we have a lot to lose. As a recent report from the University of Michigan notes: “Managed properly, the availability of low-cost shale gas could catalyze a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing, revitalizing the chemical industry and enhancing the global competitiveness of energy-intensive manufacturing sectors such as aluminum, steel, paper, glass and food.”
Earlier this week, UN Special Rapporteurs visiting Detroit labeled the city’s nearly 27,000 residential water shutoffs as contrary to basic human rights and disproportionately onerous on the city’s poorest and most vulnerable populations. The Rapporteurs drew these conclusions after a weekend of meetings with city officials and residents.
Global trade is, by and large, a good thing. Trade helps optimize the allocation of resources (materials, capital, labor, etc.) at the global scale. Today about one third of the global GDP comes from international trade. The value of traded goods and services today is about 50 times that of 1970, while the global GDP is only about four times that of 1970.
Is nuclear energy “sustainable”? Certainly it’s not categorized as such in any federal definition of the term. Nuclear power is not ballyhooed in pro-renewable montages of solar panels and wind turbines. The nuclear industry receives none of the tax incentives renewables do. But the argument for nuclear energy as an important part of any large-scale sustainable energy plan is a powerful one, and an urgent one to explore as climate change becomes an ever more pressing reality.
Electricity for rainforest villages in Gabon. Tent fabric that harvests solar energy for nomadic people in Kazakhstan. A modular greenhouse and fish farm in an unused industrial building in Highland Park, Michigan.
These are some of the goals and possibilities a team of 17 researchers will pursue with a new $3 million Third Century Initiative Global Challenges grant from the University of Michigan.
Renewable Portfolio Standards- the percentage of a given energy portfolio made up of renewable power sources- are a contentious issue in many states. In this blog entry, University of Michigan researcher Jeremiah Johnson describes his new study, which will describe in detail the various costs and benefits of adding more renewables to Michigan’s energy mix.