Monday, November 19, 2012

IDEASS Students Inspired by NASA Ames Innovative Projects

Article by Hanna Haas, Student Outreach Coordinator for IDEASS

The IDEASS (Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability Through Student Service) class had the pleasure of touring the NASA Ames Center this month, where they learned about innovations in green building technologies, research on renewable energy micro-grid systems, and an engineering project that converts algae into a biodiesel fuel stock while simultaneously sequestering harmful carbon emissions and cleaning up wastewater. 
IDEASS Class at NASA Ames Center
NASA Ames recently completed construction of a new building called the Sustainability Base, where students were able to learn about topics such as net zero energy use, and bloom fuel cells, which convert natural gas into electricity through a chemical reaction rather than traditional combustion, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For more information about the design of the sustainability base, click here.


IDEASS also toured research facilities linked to an onsite microgrid, which is used to make predictive models that will support consistent energy delivery for its users. This is in particular interest to a few of the IDEASS students who will be working on a five-year effort to create micro grids in Santa Cruz. 

Additionally, the class was given a presentation by a former IDEASS student who is working as a research assistant to convert algae into fuel. Algae can be grown as a crop that is very high in oil content. Thus, algae can be converted into "clean energy" biofuels that cleans waste water, removes carbon dioxide from the air, and retain important nutrients. NASA plans to integrate this technology into bio refineries to produce renewable energy products, including diesel and jet fuel. For more information on this project, click here

Though many IDEASS projects focus on other topics than those demonstrated at the NASA Ames Center, all of the students who attended the tour were inspired by these projects that show the possibility of innovation. 

Interested in enrolling in IDEASS for Winter Quarter? 
There will be a few spots available for winter enrollment on select projects concerning select projects. If interested, please email ideass@ucsc.edu for more information.

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