The Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment, a research center at Ohio University's Russ College of Engineering and Technology, was recently awarded a $1.9 million, four-year grant by the National Science Foundation to address alternative energy needs for future development of sustainable buildings.
According to a news release, the project, "Sustainable Housing through Holistic Waste Stream Management and Algal Cultivation," aims to develop the fundamental information needed for designing, constructing, optimizing and scaling up an algae-based power system to support the energy requirements and waste-stream management of houses or residential communities.
In the release, ISEE Director Ben Stuart, associate professor of civil engineering and principal investigator of the project, explained that "off-grid" housing is often limited to using solar PV arrays and wind power for meeting electricity demands, and solar thermal or ground-source geothermal for heating and cooling. Meanwhile, much of the current biofuels research is targeted toward transportation.
"In contrast, this project seeks to extend biofuels applications to residential housing by utilizing water and solid-waste streams – and applying carbon and nutrient recycling in the production of feed stocks for fuels, feed and food," Stuart said in the release. "This will promote sustainable, off-grid housing, including holistic management of natural resources with minimal environmental impact."
According to the release, the project is being supported by the NSF's Sustainable Energy Pathways (SEP) Program, part of a larger NSF initiative on "Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability."