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Nearly all food and agricultural waste in the U.S. enters landfills, making it the largest contributor of material entering these sites. Biological pre-treatment of large organic molecules by fermentative organisms lowers the high organic carbon load in waste, lowers wastewater treatment costs, and can produce bioenergy to partially offset costs. Conceivably, microbes that grow best above 80°C, or so-called ‘hyperthermophiles’, could be used to consolidate wastewater heat treatment and organic remediation in a single step to decrease costs while producing H2 as an energy product.

The Building Energy Extension Program conveys current energy efficiency, renewable energy, and building science information to stakeholders including those in the building trades, design professionals, state government agencies, and building owners and occupants through workshops, web publication, and consulting. Applied research in building energy systems and is conducted to respond to perceived stakeholder need.

Project Goal: To investigate the potential for large-scale energy storage in the Massachusetts electrical supply as the penetration of non-dispatchable renewable energy sources increases.

Sustainable design and construction techniques for the United States housing sector are the most economically-effective strategies for preserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating future energy security. More than 90-percent of the housing built in the Northeast is constructed from wood harvested from forests in New England. In the United States, 55-percent of timber production goes into the production of buildings.

 All food crop varieties, regardless of species, must meet certain quality standards related to their role in food production. Humans have achieved these quality standards through millennia via the processes of domestication and breeding for improvement. Because use of plants for fuel is relatively recent, energy crops lack similar quality standards. There is a desire to create energy crops that will provide high biomass and high fuel yields while growing with few inputs on marginal land.

UMass Clean Energy Extension is coordinating with DOER and the State Geologist Stephen Mabee and Five College Professor Michael Rhodes, Department of Geosciences, to conduct geological explorations to identify potential near surface bedrock for direct geothermal heating in Massachusetts.

The Clean Energy Extension has reached out to MassDEP and received its public database of over 7000 boiler and turbines permitted across its four state regions.  The extension will use this database to develop a GIS depiction and analysis of the boilers to target businesses and institutions for CHP, renewable thermal, and district energy opportunities.

Project Goals: (1) To motivate the use and development of data center facilities, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to support the IT and knowledge economies, by quantifying the energy savings from using newer data center technologies that are emerging. (2) To suggest simple ways to improve the energy-efficiency hosting servers on campuses or in office settings, either by improving the efficiency of existing server closets or using a prototype of a free air cooling system. 

Massachusetts has over 1,000 growers producing greenhouse crops in 12 million square feet of protected growing space (2002 Census of Agriculture). Most of Massachusetts’ greenhouses are heated with either fuel oil or liquid propane. While there are no firm figures available, we estimate that total use of fossil fuels for greenhouse heat is equivalent to nearly 1 million gallons of fuel oil, with emissions in the range of 22 million pounds of CO2 annually.

Project Goal: This project will promote energy efficient operations and management practices in educational and public/commercial buildings in Massachusetts by improving and calibrating control strategies for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

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