Nevada’s renewable energy expertise stretches to many areas, including:
- Nevada researchers in the College of Engineering, led by Amy Childress, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, have created novel methods using osmosis and forward osmosis to treat wastewater for potable reuse or for power regeneration. The method not only reduces the footprint of current power regimes, it could also revolutionize how large municipalities in the country effectively optimize their use of water as a power source.
- The Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research is home to some of the nation’s most important large-scale structures laboratory and a unique world-renowned earthquake simulation facility. Using the largest earthquake shake tables in the nation, numerous earthquake simulations on the bi-axial shake tables have helped improve the design and structural stability of large-scale structures throughout the country. The structures group, led by Ian Buckle, is already leading infrastructure and earthquake mitigation research across the nation. Their efforts are complemented by a cadre of talented seismology scientists in the College of Science that specializes in the study of earthquakes.
- The Western Regional Superpave Center, under the direction of Peter Sabaaly of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, is one of the nation’s leaders in promoting the implementation of pavement and asphalt technologies. Researchers have evaluated the tolerance of different paving materials for roads in areas that are prone to extremes in temperature, and provide high-tech, low-cost solutions to paving projects throughout the state and the nation.
- Kwang Kim, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has pioneered heat transfer enhancement techniques in condensers for use in geothermal power plants, as well as thermal compression of hydrogen utilizing geothermal energy. Kim’s research is helping close the gap between the possibility and the reality of making geothermal energy less costly and more viable for the nation.
- At the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy, led by Lisa Shevenell, Nevada researchers are collecting and synthesizing key data through GIS technology in an effort to produce favorability maps of the state’s geothermal potential.
- At the Redfield Renewable Energy Center on the University’s Redfield Campus, classrooms and research space are being utilized in teaching undergraduate and graduate students about renewable energy through the University’s new renewable energy minor.
- Researchers in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources are at the forefront in the next key evolution in biofuels and their use in Nevada. In the laboratory of John Cushman, professor of biochemistry, microalgae has been developed for biodiesel feedstock, as a sequester of carbon dioxide from coal and gas-fired power plants, and as a way to produce biomass, which can be used for heating pellets.
- In addition to these projects, Nevada researchers continue to work closely with the faculty of its Nevada System of Higher Education partners, the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). DRI has national and worldwide expertise in such key areas as hydrology, atmospheric science and renewable energy. Of particular note, DRI’s Renewable Energy Center has ongoing projects focused on wind energy, hydrogen application and bioenergy.