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Clean-Energy Research Accelerates

10-22-12

Caltech clean-energy research is accelerating thanks to the renovation of the Earle M. Jorgensen Laboratory. Transformed into a cutting-edge facility for energy science, the lab unites two powerhouse programs: the Resnick Sustainability Institute and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP). "Our researchers are working with Caltech's chemists and chemical engineers to challenge the status quo and translate scientific discovery into clean-energy innovations that will directly benefit society for generations to come," says Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech Release]

Tags: energy research highlights Caltech infrastructure Jorgensen Renovation

Number One Engineering and Technology University

10-04-12

For the third year the Times Higher Education world university rankings has ranked Caltech as number one in engineering and technology. [View Rankings] [Caltech Feature]

Tags: APhMS EE GALCIT MCE CMS ESE Graduate school rankings

Self-Contained, Photovoltaic Powered Domestic Toilet

08-15-12

Michael Robert Hoffmann, James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science, and his team of graduate students Asghar Aryanfar, Clement Cid, Kangwoo Cho, Daejung Kwon, and Hao Zhang, along with post doctoral scholar Yan Qu have won the Reinventing the Toilet Challenge issued by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Their winning proposal was to build a toilet that uses the sun to power an electrochemical reactor. The reactor breaks down water and human waste into fertilizer and hydrogen, which can be stored in hydrogen fuel cells as energy. The treated water can then be reused to flush the toilet or for irrigation. [Caltech Feature] [CNN Ideas]

Tags: energy research highlights MCE ESE Michael Hoffmann Asghar Aryanfar Clement Cid Kangwoo Cho Daejung Kwon Hao Zhang Yan Qu

New Insight into Acid Rain Chemistry

06-13-12

A multidisciplinary team led by Dr. A. J. Colussi, comprising of graduate student Himanshu Mishra, and Professor Michael Hoffmann along with Dr. Robert J. Nielsen and Professor William A. Goddard III from the Materials and Process Simulation Center, has shown that the dissociation of nitric acid on thin layers of water, such as those in contact with air or biological membranes, is dramatically different from the similar process inside water. They have found that the molecules of nitric acid do not dissociate when they collide with water unless its surface contains at least 1 anion per million water. This work explains how minute concentrations of anions might subtly participate in acid rain chemistry, the cycling of nitrogen oxide pollutants on urban haze, and in the charging of protein surfaces that drive enzyme activities. [The PNAS Article]

Tags: research highlights ESE William Goddard Michael Hoffmann A. J. Colussi Himanshu Mishra Robert Nielsen

Using Stalagmites to Study Past Climate Change

05-04-12

By analyzing stalagmites, Jess F. Adkins, Professor of Geochemistry and Global Environmental Science, and colleagues have determined that the climate signature in the tropics through four glacial cycles looks different in some ways and similar in others when compared to the climate signature at high latitudes. The results suggest that Earth's climate system might have two modes of responding to significant changes. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE Jess F. Adkins

Professor Seinfeld Wins 2012 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

03-21-12

John H. Seinfeld, Louis E. Nohl Professor and Professor of Chemical Engineering, and past Engineering and Applied Science Division Chair has recieved the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, an honor regarded as the top prize of environmental science, environmental health, and energy. He has won the prize for "his groundbreaking work leading to the understanding of the origin, chemistry, and evolution of particles in the atmosphere." [Caltech Feature

Tags: honors ESE John H. Seinfeld

New Computer Model Explains Lakes and Storms on Titan

01-05-12

A new computer model of the atmosphere and methane cycle of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, explains baffling observations of its lakes and storms. "We have a unified explanation for many of the observed features," says Tapio Schneider, the Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering. "It doesn't require cryovolcanoes or anything esoteric." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE Tapio Schneider

Number One Engineering and Technology University

10-14-11

For the second year the Times Higher Education world university rankings has ranked Caltech as number one in the subject of  engineering and technology. [View Rankings] [Caltech Feature]

Andrew Thompson Joins ESE Faculty

08-29-11

Andrew Thompson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, joined the Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences in August 2011. His research focuses on eddies in the ocean which are important for mixing the ocean and transporting heat, chemicals, and biological elements. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE Andrew Thompson

Solar-Powered Sanitation System

07-19-11

Michael R Hoffmann, James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science, has received a $400,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a solar-powered portable toilet that could help solve a major health problem in developing countries. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights health ESE Michael Hoffmann