2011 Sustainability Innovation Winners

Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge – 2011 Winners

Blue Boundaries: The Critical Role of Water Constraints on Energy Systems
Edward Spang
Ph.D. Candidate
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

My doctoral research focuses on the intersection of two critical resource systems: water supply and energy production, both of which are central topics of Dow’s 2015 Sustainability goals. While much research on the water-energy nexus has focused on estimating the water consumption of discrete energy technologies, my research synthesizes and expands the existing work in the field to explore the comprehensive water consumption of national level energy portfolios. To provide a new perspective on the topic, I calculated the energy sector water consumption for 177 countries and digitally mapped the results to create the first global representation of the geographic distribution of water-intensive energy systems. The next stage of my research will be to apply an econometric analysis to identify country characteristics that are closely linked to water intensive energy portfolios.

The objective of my research is to produce results that are directly relevant to improved policymaking in both the energy and water sectors. In the future, I hope to further expand my research to include the energy demand of water resource systems, as well as build and maintain an official global database of water-energy nexus data as a resource for future analysis.

A Novel Green Biosensor Platform for Low Cost Detection of Bacterial Endotoxins
Konstantinos Tsioris
Ph.D. Candidate
Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering

This proposal for the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge combines biology, physics and engineering in an interdisciplinary effort to develop a biological fluorescent sensor platform, which can be used to develop an alternative lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxin detection assay. This novel fluorescent LPS sensor addresses issues associated with the conventional gold standard limulus amebocyte lysate test. The proposed LPS biosensor provides improved stability, specificity and ease of use, while lowering the cost and environmental impact. The sensor design also directly addresses the Dow 2015 Sustainability Goals and the themes of protection of human health and environment. Initial results from a model biosensor are promising, due to the experienced shift in the fluorescent spectrum in response to a model analyte. This project is carried out by Konstantinos Tsioris (PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering) in a collaborative effort to access the knowledge of two laboratories at Tufts University, the Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics and Biophotonics Laboratory (UNOBio) led by Dr. Omenetto and the Biopolymer Engineering Laboratory led by Dr. Kaplan.

Urban Solar Powered Back-up System: Pilot Project in Lahore, Pakistan
Jonathan Torn
Masters Candidate
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Ahmed Malik
Master’s Candidate
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Pakistan has a history of energy shortages which has worsened in the past few years. In order to have power when grid electricity is not available, many households use Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS). This has the perverse effects of drawing more power from the grid, adding costs to the consumer and increasing the burden on the overall system. Additionally, the frequent fluctuations in electrical current damage and sometimes destroy the UPS inverter and/or batteries. The project proposal is to implement sustainable solar power backups in the urban areas of Pakistan to alleviate the situation, starting with Lahore.

The propagation of solar energy has historically faced challenges due to deficiencies in its financial viability as compared to existing power sources. The existing solar energy projects are operating in rural areas that do not have access to the grid. We will specifically target the urban population in order to reduce the load of current power consumption. We also believe that this project can be a pedagogical tool to introduce the use of solar energy to a demographic that is not usually targeted and promote the wider use of this sustainable technology.

2010-2011 Honorable Mentions
Ecology and Physiology of Green Roof Plant Communities
Colleen Butler, Ph.D. Candidate in Biology
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

A Methodology for Evaluating Coupled Pricing Policies that Stimulate the Agricultural Use of Treated Wastewater
Eric Vaughan, Master’s Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering
School of Engineering