University of Delaware
delware environmental institute


Environmental news from Delaware and the surrounding region.

Global issues in nutrient management:  UD to host symposium on nutrient management science, technology, policy
06/01/2011 -

The fourth annual international symposium addressing global issues and trends in nutrient management will be held at the University of Delaware, Aug. 21-24. The symposium focuses on how agricultural management practices, technological advances and global or regional priorities affect both nutrient use efficiency in the food chain, and the quality of our environment in different regions of the world.


Water works:  Create a backyard rain garden and help the region's bays
05/25/2011 -

Want to do your part to help local rivers and bays? Create a backyard rain garden.

It’s fairly easy to build your own rain garden and it can pay big dividends for nearby watersheds.

Stormwater runoff is one of the leading sources of pollution in waterways, according to Valann Budischak, a horticultural associate with University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. But rain gardens can be a great way to manage stormwater. Rain gardens are shallow depressions, planted with perennials and woody plants, which collect water from roofs, driveways, other impervious surfaces and turf grass (which, like a driveway, is lousy at absorbing water).

Rain gardens slow down and reduce runoff and thus help prevent flooding and erosion. In addition, the garden’s soil and plants filter pollutants in rainwater. (Full article)

When fueling up means plugging in: Limited range, long charging time remain concerns for potential electric vehicle customers
05/18/2011 -

Want a Nissan Leaf? Join the 20,000 people on the waiting list to get one. The Chevy Volt got your eye? General Motors ramped up availability earlier this year to try and meet demand. With the latest generation of electric vehicles gaining traction, new findings from University of Delaware researchers are informing automakers’ and policymakers’ decisions about the environmentally friendly cars.

Results of one study show the electric car attributes that are most important for consumers: driving range, fuel cost savings and charging time. The results are based on a national survey conducted by the researchers, UD professors George Parsons, Willett Kempton and Meryl Gardner, and Michael Hidrue, who recently graduated from UD with a doctoral degree in economics. Lead author Hidrue conducted the research for his dissertation. (Full article)

Stormwater runoff: CANR fights stormwater runoff to help White Clay Creek
05/17/2011 -

After the storm has passed, the damage isn’t done. In fact, for White Clay Creek, the destruction is just beginning.

Much of the University of Delaware's campus, including the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) farm, drains into Cool Run, a tributary of White Clay Creek. Because the creek has been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, a designation spearhead by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., a UD alumnus, the University now has the distinction of being one of only two universities in the country to have a National Wild and Scenic River run through its campus. Because of this, there is an urgency to quell the impact of stormwater runoff into the creek.

Stormwater runoff, unfiltered water that reaches bodies of water by flowing across impervious surfaces, enters White Clay Creek through multiple sources throughout the city of Newark and the UD campus. Because of this, CANR has teamed with partners from across the University and the city to see what can be done to help reduce the University’s contribution to the problem, activity that has led to the formation of the University of Delaware Watershed Action Team for Ecological Restoration (UD WATER). (Full article)

05/13/2011 -

Contact: Cathy Rossi, Director of Communications, Office of the Governor, 302-577-5224, or Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Gov. Markell promotes economic growth, health and environmental protection

Proposes significant investment in brownfield redevelopment; online Delaware Brownfields Marketplace database launched

WILMINGTON (May 13, 2011) – Governor Jack Markell today proposed a significant investment in brownfield redevelopment and environmental cleanup projects that would create shovel-ready opportunities for development, while making our communities safer and healthier. The Governor wants to allocate $4 million from recent increases in projected state revenues to Delaware’s Hazardous Site Cleanup Act (HSCA) fund for brownfield and other environmental cleanup projects, and restore $1 million a year for the next two years to HSCA that had been diverted to the state’s General Fund. The Governor also announced the launch of a new interactive website which lists brownfield sites that have been cleaned up, environmentally certified and are ready for redevelopment.
“Redevelopment makes environmental and economic sense,” Gov. Markell said. “Investing in brownfield and environmental cleanup projects will transform abandoned, blighted and contaminated properties into safer, healthier revitalized communities. Wilmington’s riverfront area is a testament to the potential for brownfield redevelopment to play a critical role in Delaware’s economic prosperity. Environmental stewardship and revitalization can go hand-in-hand. ”

As good as gold: Pyrite nanoparticles from hydrothermal vents are a rich source of iron
05/11/2011 -

Similar to humans, the bacteria and tiny plants living in the ocean need iron for energy and growth. But their situation is quite different than ours — for one, they can’t exactly turn to natural iron sources like leafy greens or red meat for a pick-me-up.

So where does their iron come from? New research published by Nature Geoscience points to a source on the seafloor: minute particles (called nanoparticles) of pyrite, or fool’s gold, from hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean.

Scientists already knew the vents’ cloudy plumes emitted from the earth’s interior include pyrite particles, but they thought they were solids that settled back on the ocean bottom. A University of Delaware team has shown that the vents emit a significant amount of pyrite as nanoparticles, which have a diameter that is one thousand times smaller than that of a human hair. Because the nanoparticles are so small, they are dispersed into the ocean rather than falling to the bottom. (Full article)

See also the NSF news site.

A renewable twist on fossil fuesl: UD chemist wins award for novel renewable energy research
05/06/2011 -

Pulling valuable fuels out of thin air? It sounds like magic, but Joel Rosenthal, a chemist at the University of Delaware, is working to transform carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, into gas for your car and clean-energy future fuels.

Such a feat could help reduce the rising CO2 levels implicated in global warming and also offer a new method of renewable energy production. (full article)

Going with the wind:  Students certified to facilitate research at top of wind turbine
05/05/2011 -

Graduate students DeAnna Sewell and Blaise Sheridan have taken the idea of “hands-on learning” to a whole new level. Literally. The pair earned certification to climb the University of Delaware’s 2-megawatt wind turbine and recently completed their first ascent to the top of the 256-foot-tall machine.

After climbing the ladder that scales the tower’s interior, a process that took about an hour, they poked their heads out the top of the nacelle, which houses the turbine’s mechanical and electrical components. Stretching out below them was UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus, a wide swath of brown marsh, and miles of Delaware Bay obscured by the clouds of an early spring day.

"I’m not really afraid of heights," Sheridan said. "But you certainly found that out when you were sitting on top of the nacelle." (full article)

An award for cold, hard research:  Nelson receives lifetime achievement award for permafrost work
05/05/2011 -

Growing up, Frederick “Fritz” Nelson dreamed of traveling to exotic places. Over the years, the University of Delaware geography professor has ventured to Alaska, Canada, Russia, Mongolia, and places in between, to examine perennially frozen ground called permafrost and the implications of its thawing for society.

Along the way, Nelson helped to establish the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) network, which now consists of some 200 sites in 15 countries. The network is producing a long-term record of permafrost behavior to document how this frozen ground responds to snow cover and other climatic “drivers,” and to evaluate the performance of climate models.

In recognition of his contributions, the Association of American Geographers (AAG) presented Nelson with the Francois Emile Matthes Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cryospheric Science on April 14, at the AAG annual meeting in Seattle. The society, founded in 1904, has more than 12,000 members representing over 60 countries. (full article)

05/03/2011 -


DOVER (May 3, 2011) – In anticipation of its restart, the Delaware City Refining Company has received permits from DNREC and begun a series of projects that are expected to improve the environmental performance of the facility, as part of its commitment to the state to reduce the refinery’s emissions below all previous years of operation from day one.

Over the past year, DNREC has been in constant communication with the refinery’s new owner and management team to ensure that the turnaround activities proceeded in compliance with environmental regulations; that all required permits have been obtained, and that environmental obligations are understood and fulfilled since PBF Energy LLC purchased the refinery from Valero last year.