LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 9, 2018) —
A $50,000 grant from Duke Energy will help make IU Bloomington one of the first universities in the U.S. to convert emissions from its heating plant into fertilizer to feed campus vegetation. The technology utilized to make this happen was invented and patented at UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER). Working with CAER engineers, IU Bloomington has installed a "cyclic flow" photobioreactor system on the roof of its Central Heating Plant. The system will convert carbon emissions from the natural gas boiler into fertilizer via photosynthesis, enhancing sustainability efforts already underway across the campus.
"I look forward to learning from the results in Indiana,” said Wilson, a senior research engineer at CAER. "Many colleges, universities and companies have power plants at their facilities. They also utilize fertilizers as part of their landscaping and beautification programs. If successful, this may provide a new avenue to create those products from a sustainable source, while reducing their carbon footprint."
Wilson credits the vision of IU’s Stephen "Chip" Glaholt for utilizing the project as a way to stimulate applied, multidisciplinary, undergraduate research across campus — essentially as a living laboratory. "It is a very exciting concept," Wilson said. "It creates a win-win-win, highlighting sustainability efforts, engaging students and advancing applied carbon utilization research."