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IN THE NEWS

Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

CEOE dean among ocean leaders to brief White House on Gulf oil spill
06/25/2010 -

As efforts to stem BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill continue, University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment Dean Nancy Targett headed to the White House. Targett visited Vice President Joe Biden's Domestic Policy Advisory Committee Tuesday, June 22, to discuss response to the disaster.

Targett and four other experts from the ocean science community briefed the committee's staff on the Consortium for Ocean Leadership's June 3 meeting in Baton Rouge, La., which convened the U.S. research community on the spill.

Kauffman elected to Partnership for Delaware Estuary advisory committee
06/21/2010 -

Gerald Kauffman, director of the Water Resources Agency (WRA), a unit of the University of Delaware's Institute for Public Administration (IPA), has been elected to the Scientific Technical Advisory Committee of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

Kauffman was one of two new committee members to be elected by a panel of their peers. This is a significant recognition of his contributions and stature in the water resources scientific community. For many years he had served in an advisory role to but was not on the elected committee.

Sparks to receive Liebig Medal from International Union of Soil Sciences
06/19/2010 -

This summer, Donald Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware and director of the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN), will receive the Liebig Award from the International Union of Soil Sciences for outstanding contributions in soil science research, revealing new discoveries, techniques, inventions, or materials related to soils and the environment.

The award, which consists of an engraved medal, a certificate, and honorarium, will be presented to Sparks on Aug. 5 at the 19th World Congress of Soil Science in Brisbane, Australia. It will mark only the second time the award has been given by the 150,000-member society, which was founded in 1924.

Day 59: UD site shows cities whose 115,000 cars could have been fueled by spill
06/18/2010 -

Buffalo, Las Vegas, Pasadena, Hartford, or Topeka -- all of the 100,000-120,000 cars in any one of these cities could have been fueled for a year by the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill as of June 17, day 59 of the catastrophe. See the full list of U.S. cities and counties on Prof. James J. Corbett's website at the University of Delaware.

The UD website calculates daily the number and kinds of transportation vehicles the spilled oil could have supplied. It also now includes a map showing the different cities and counties whose cars could have been fueled for a year.

Day 57: Updated figures show oil from spill could have powered 68,000 cars for year
06/16/2010 -

By day 57 (June 15), if all the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico had been used for fuel, it could have powered 68,000 cars, and 6,100 trucks, and 3,100 ships for a full year, according to University of Delaware Prof. James J. Corbett, who updates the numbers daily on his website.

That's based on the average estimated spill rate of 30,000 barrels of oil per day. On June 10, the science team analyzing the spill updated their estimates to range between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels per day, nearly double their original estimated flow rate. Corbett now includes calculations based on the new average on his website at UD.

Visitors to the website can choose the spill rate they believe is most accurate from a range of reported estimates, and the website will automatically calculate how many cars, trucks, and ships could have been powered for a year, based on Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

06/16/2010 -

The University of Delaware and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today announced they will collaborate on offshore wind research and work to facilitate the testing of commercial wind turbines off the Delaware coast.

Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement worth $500,000 over the next five years, UD will work with federal and state agencies to identify and meet criteria for establishing any potential offshore test sites. Public involvement is expected to be a key part of the process.

Commercial offshore wind turbine components can be tested separately on land, but before installing multiple full-scale commercial turbines, it is prudent for researchers and industry to study one or a small number of complete turbine systems at sites that will expose the turbines to typical offshore conditions, such as salt water and mist, wind gusts, and weather events such as northeasters.

University, Gamesa commission coastal wind turbine
06/15/2010 -

Culminating years of planning and study, the University of Delaware and Gamesa Technology Corporation held a ceremony Friday, June 11, to commission a 2-megawatt wind turbine at UD's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.

Several dignitaries joined in the celebration, including U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Collin O'Mara, City of Lewes Mayor James Ford, and Deputy Director Michael Robinson of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Wind Technology Center.

The project is part of a joint venture, First State Marine Wind, between UD-owned Blue Hen Wind and Gamesa Technology Corporation. The City of Lewes and Sustainable Energy Developments Inc. (SED) are also key partners.

Environmental engineering professor's work incorporated into EPA criteria and applied to Gulf oil spill
06/11/2010 -

Like most of us, Dom Di Toro cringes when he sees photos of oil-slicked pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico and tar balls in the sugary sand along the shoreline. But he is just as worried about what he can't see -- the toxic effects of oil on the water and sediment environments.

“It's easy to see the direct, or physical, effects,” Di Toro says, “while the chemical effects tend to be invisible. However, what's going on below the surface can be just as devastating as the oil slicks that we can see on the surface.”

An expert in water quality and sediment quality criteria models for organic chemicals, metals and mixtures, Di Toro is the Edward C. Davis Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware.

Oil from spill could have powered 38,000 cars for year, UD researcher says
06/09/2010 -

For a video report on Prof. James J. Corbett's work, see the YouTube page.

As of today (Wednesday, June 9), if all the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico had been used for fuel, it could have powered 38,000 cars, and 3,400 trucks, and 1,800 ships for a full year, according to University of Delaware Prof. James J. Corbett. That's based on the estimated spill rate of 19,000 barrels of oil per day.

Corbett, a professor of marine policy in UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, works on energy and environmental solutions for transportation. He has launched a website that reports the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in terms of lost uses of the lost fuel on a daily basis.

UD researcher says chicken feathers may help in oil spill mitigation
06/08/2010 -

Researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware have developed a method to mitigate oil spills using chicken feather fibers. Prof. Richard Wool has discovered that when the fibers are cut to an optimal size, surface tension forces drive them to form self-assembled percolating networks that attract and trap oil spilled on a water surface.

Preliminary tests have yielded promising results, and a provisional patent application has been filed on the technology.

The U.S. poultry industry generates 5 to 6 billion pounds of feathers annually, an amount that Wool says could handle an oil spill covering some 200,000 square miles, or the entire economic zone of the Gulf of Mexico.