FORE: Renewable energy at Mines

As energy demands continue to soar, Mines’ Renewable Energy course (ENGY320) hosted its annual Forum on Renewable Energy (FORE). FORE showcased the students’ semester long projects on energy awareness among various companies ranging from ski resorts to local pizzerias.

As part of his project, Edward Godsell, a petroleum engineering student and member of ENGY320, investigated the eco-friendly aspects of the Winter Park Ski Resort in Winter Park, Colorado. What Godsell discovered is that the ski resort is concentrating their efforts into conserving energy while increasing efficiency. Winter Park started their Connexion Program in 2006 which, according to their website, “Focuses the energy of the employees and puts an emphasis on sustainability and ecologically-friendly practices throughout the resort and community.”

Simply, that means that the resort has installed high efficiency light bulbs, toilets, ski lifts, faucets, and replaced other energy intensive appliances to increase efficiency. Winter Park has also installed a computer system that regulates the temperature of the lodges and lift cabins to maximize energy efficiency. They recycle everything from regular paper and plastic to anti-freeze and scrap iron. These are but a few of the ways that Winter Park has become more efficient.

Godsell’s classmate, Scott McClary, did not have to travel as far to research his topic, which analyzed the energy consumption of Woody’s Pizza in downtown Golden. McClary found that Woody’s composts about 95% (40,000 gallons) of their food waste each year. If this food waste were buried instead, it would decompose anaerobically and produce methane, whereas composting it decomposes the trash aerobically, creating an eco-friendly waste.

But beyond food waste, Woody’s decreases their energy and water usage through the usage of LED lights, CFL lights, and “state of the art” water machines. But the best part, according to McClary, is the simple fact “that Woody’s makes great food while being environmentally friendly.”

While the eco-friendly policies of certain companies are intriguing, Mines students are always interested in employment openings. As a result, FORE also highlighted the research and job opportunities across the campus, particularly the Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (REMRSEC).

Research at REMRSEC covers a wide range of renewable energies, including the development of photovoltaic and opto-electronic technologies and membrane materials associated with fuel cells. And while many are struggling with the nationwide job shortage, REMRSEC encourages students, explaining that “the field is just hopping… most estimates indicate an impending shortage of scientists and engineers in the renewable energy sector.”

As a result, REMRSEC offers unique opportunities to students through their summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program that, according to their website, “Includes cutting edge research, seminars on energy topics, field trips to NREL, and interactions with renewable energy companies.” The REU program invites exceptional math, science, and engineering students to participate in a ten-week summer program, researching the science and technology of renewable energy.

REMRSEC’s REU involves the synthesizing, processing, and characterizing of materials while performing non-destructive, in-situ microscopy under a range of extreme conditions. It is open to all engineering, materials science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, chemical science, and computer science undergraduate majors. Visit http://remrsec.mines.edu/ for more details.

Mines is a phenomenal place for environmentally friendly-based research that encourages the growth of renewable energy technology while raising awareness at the same time. FORE highlighted just a few of the many excellent opportunities that are offered across the campus.

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