Description

Abstract P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet A. Primary FON: EPA-G2014-P3-Q3 (Materials and Chemicals) Primary Research Area: Sustainable Chemistry (Chemistry in Agriculture) Secondary FON: EPA-G2014-P3-Q1 Energy; Secondary Research Area: Biofuels and Waste to Energy B. Project Title: Community-scale gasification and biochar retort hubs for rural areas: a closed loop system for sustainable agriculture and bioenergy C. Lead PI: Rolf U. Halden (School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State Univ.) E-mail:Rolf.Halden@asu.edu Website: http://labs.biodesign.asu.edu/halden/ Co-PI: Edward Kavazanjian, Jr. (School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State Univ.) E-mail:edkavy@asu.edu Advisors: Yeon-Su Kim (School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University) E-mail:Yeon-Su.Kim@nau.edu; Nigel W.T. Quinn (Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL)) E-mail:nwquinn@lbl.gov D. Student Team: ASU - Olga Epshtein (Lead, GRAD), Brian Knorr (GRAD), Steven Hart (GRAD), Dakota Tallman (UGRAD); NAU - Trevor Gonska (UGRAD) E. Institutions: Lead - Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona), Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, California) F. Student Represented Departments and Institutions: Arizona State University - Department of Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering; The Biodesign Institute; Department of Geology; School of Sustainability; Northern Arizona University - School of Forestry G. Project Period and Location: August 15, 2014 August 14, 2015; Maricopa County (Arizona) and Flagstaff (Arizona) H. Proposed EPA Project Cost: The total EPA project cost is $15,000 (direct - $9,709, indirect - $5,291). I. Total Project Amount: The total project amount is estimated at $15,000 (total contribution requested from EPA). All other contributions are in-kind. These include lab space, equipment, and personnel costs provided by the educational institutions (Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University); equipment provided by industry partners (AMARESCO); machinery, seed, water, labor, and agricultural land provided by a local farm; and personnel costs provided by government institutions (LBL). J. Project Summary Objective: The current reliance on fossil fuels, chemical agents, and mining of ancient nutrient deposits to draw adequate agricultural yields from marginal soils results in the accumulation of toxins in soils, water, air, and biota. In many developing countries, agricultural waste is managed by poorly-regulated disposal and incineration, leading to further environmental degradation. As a result, material and energy are lost but contamination is accumulated - putting human and ecosystem health and food security at risk. This project will address these technical challenges by developing a Best Practices manual for the integration into farming practices of community-scale gasification technology and its co-products (energy and biochar). Biochar is composed of pyrolyzed organic materials; in addition to being an effective method of carbon sequestration, the application of biochar has the capacity to increase soil fertility through pH depression, improved nutrient and water retention, and microbial fitness. Few studies dealing with the physical and biological characterization of biochar have been conducted at the field scale. Our technical approach will overcome not only this important limitation, but also introduce biochar into active crop rotation on a small, family-owned farm. Our suite of physical, microbiological, and operational experiments will better capture the in-situ feedbacks between biochar, legacy chemicals, soil microbial communities, farming practices, EPA-G2014-P3-Q3 2 and hydrologic processes. Building on these field-based experiments, we will develop scenario-based models of runoff, nutrient and fertilizer loading as well as landscape erosion under a variety of climate, vegetation, soil type, and biochar application rates.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/1/148/31/15

Funding

  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): $15,000.00

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energy
student
cost
engineering
nutrient
forestry
sustainability
farm
gasification
project
ecosystem health
alternative agriculture
bioenergy
crop rotation
Earth science
water retention
environmental degradation
incineration
food security
biofuel