Rensselaer Research Review Fall 2010
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Renewable and Alternative Energy
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* Akibbutz in the southern Arava region

The Rensselaer team visited several sites while in Israel, including a kibbutz in the southern Arava region that grows algae in tubular reactors for the purpose of producing a red pigment that is marketed worldwide. The tubular reactors are used to enable control over algae feeding and protection from disease and competitors.

Rensselaer researchers and students are creating alternative energy and sustainable solutions for staple crop production, solar energy for schools in Haiti, and novel “green” systems for air filtration.

Seeding an Agricultural Oasis

A team of Rensselaer faculty, commissioned by Samuel Josefowitz ’42, is exploring partnerships with leading Israeli universities and organizations to develop a next-generation, engineered “agricultural oasis” for arid lands.

The project concept involves an integrated system of alternative energy and desalination technologies for the specific purpose of staple crop food production — a basic need not only in developing nations, but in all nations that depend heavily on food imports.

Rensselaer faculty led by David Rosowsky, dean of the School of Engineering, recently met with researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. They also met with Eitan Yudilevich ’88, executive director of the BIRD Foundation (the acronym refers to Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development), whose mission is to promote industrial research and development of mutual benefit to both nations.            

The Rensselaer team included Georges Belfort, Russell Sage Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Professor Michael Jensen and Associate Professor Yoav Peles, both of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering, and Associate Professor James “Chip” Kilduff of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

The multidisciplinary project is expected to involve solar energy and its storage and control systems; water treatment using nanofiltration and reverse osmosis; agricultural engineering including controlled environments and irrigation; agricultural economics for crop selection and marketing; and business planning and development. Rensselaer engineering expertise lies in the areas of renewable energy, water treatment, membrane processes, fluid mechanics, and hydraulics. Israeli partners and specialists will assist in greenhouse engineering, crop selection, and agricultural economics.

“Our trip was productive across the board,” says Rosowsky. “We had very good discussions with the Israelis, and the prospects are good for future research collaborations, especially in biotechnology and nanotechnology.

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“Renewable and Alternative Energy”
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