LOGAN -- A new laboratory at Utah State University will help researchers develop alternative renewable energy sources.
Utah State recently established what it calls EDL, the Energy Dynamics Laboratory, which focuses on the development and application of biofuel research, as well as the design and implementation of green, renewable energy and environmental solutions for government and commercial customers.
While the USU Biofuels Center and USU Center for Advanced Sensing and Imaging focus on early-stage research to create biofuels from algae and other new environmental methods, the EDL takes it one step further by creating larger-scale prototypes and methods to implement the technologies that come from the Utah Science, Technology, and Research initiative research.
"There is enough activity to warrant the university getting involved in all aspects of the research," said Jeff Muhs, executive director of USU energy ventures.
An example of the process is the Logan Lagoons project.
Ron Sims, director of engineering at the USU Biofuels Center, recently conducted USTAR-funded research at the wastewater lagoons to determine if high oil-producing algae can remove phosphorous and produce biofuels. If unchecked, phosphorous discharged into streams can have devastating effects on downstream ecosystems.
After determining the concept is viable, Sims enlisted the help of the USU Biofuels Center, the Municipal Environmental Department of Logan, and USU's College of Engineering, to design and develop a wastewater and environmental remediation system.
The pilot facility at the lagoons will harvest algae that consumes nitrogen and phosphorous while producing biofuels.
"It's a win-win situation for everyone," said Ned Weinshenker, vice president of strategic ventures and economic development.
"The biofuel created at the facility will be used to power facilities and vehicles. This alone will save taxpayers and the City of Logan thousands of dollars a year."
The EDL is funded by a $500,000 USTAR grant. EDL's projected revenues in the first year of operation total more than $4 million with the potential to go beyond, Muhs said.
The benefits already are evident at the Biofuels Center. More than 60 people are involved with the center, which has nearly matched the original USTAR investment of $6.5 million in new grants and contracts.
The EDL will focus its work in four primary areas including advanced biofuels, intelligent end-use energy systems, clean fossils and energy innovation.
"EDL's focus areas will improve America's energy," Weinshenker said. "New forms of alternative energy will allow us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, and reduce our overall carbon footprint. The innovations will also create jobs and increase tax revenues."