IUPUI/Purdue Gets Major Award for Renewable Energy

Good news for the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, and its efforts to educate tomorrow’s leaders about renewable energy. Westcommonline explains the school is the only one in the state to be selected to take part in the Department of Education industrial efficiency training program:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI has been selected to receive a $1.3 million Department of Energy award to train undergraduate- and graduate-level engineering students in manufacturing efficiency to help them become the nation’s next generation of industrial energy efficiency experts. The award will help the university provide practical training on core energy management concepts through the DOE’s Industrial Assessment Center Program. IUPUI is the only university in Indiana selected to receive this award.

“This industrial efficiency training program opens the door to good jobs in a growing, global sector for thousands of energy-savvy students while promoting real, boots-on-the-ground progress toward our transition to a clean energy economy,” said Secretary Chu. “The Centers will provide a boost to the next-generation of American workers as well as to the businesses with which they work.”

Through these university-based Industrial Assessment Centers, engineering students will receive extensive training in industrial processes, energy assessment procedures and energy management principles, which will be put to use working directly with small and medium-sized industrial and manufacturing facilities in the surrounding communities. Under the program, the School of Engineering and Technology will train at least 10 to 15 students per year, conduct approximately 20 energy assessments annually and perform extensive follow-on reporting, tracking, implementation, and management-improvement activities.

“The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI is making significant investments in energy engineering education and research,” said Dr. David J. Russomanno, Dean of the School. “Our new B.S. degree in energy engineering, recent additions of experienced faculty members and our Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy are investments that will enable us to significantly contribute to the goals of the DOE’s Industrial Assessment Center program.”

The School will be utilizing the resources of its energy engineering experts and the Lugar Center for Renewable Energy to form industry partnerships in the Indianapolis community. These partnerships will lead to increased research and scholarship support for undergraduate and graduate students.

Coal Making Comeback for Some Businesses

America’s new likely Energy Secretary, nominee Steven Chu, is on record saying coal is his "worst nightmare." Well, he obviously hasn’t been locked in solitary with a stereo looping that migraine-inducing terror of a song, "Bad Day." That is my worst nightmare, and I’d contend it’s far worse than anything coal will ever provide.

But Chu’s (and Obama’s) aversion to coal is hardly music to the ears of the nation’s coal producers, namely the top five producing states (Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Texas). This is likely why the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council has a different take on coal:

For good measure, coal is affordable. On December 27, the New York Times ran a fascinating story titled "Burning Coal at Home Is Making a Comeback". While still a tiny fraction of the market, the story explained how the number of homes using coal as a heating fuel has risen. Coal consumption as a heating fuel, it was reported, hit a low in 2006, then rose by 7 percent in 2007 and more than 10 percent during the first eight months of 2008.

Opportunities have expanded for some small businesses. For example: "Dean Lehman, the plant manager for Hitzer Inc., a family-owned business in Berne, Ind., that makes smaller, indoor coal stoves, said his stoves were on back order until March. And Jeffery Gliem, the director of operations at the Reading Stove Company and its parent, Reading Anthracite, in Pottsville, Pa., which supplies coal and stoves to 15 states in the Northeast and Midwest, said the uptick in interest was the largest he had seen in 30 years. ‘In your typical year you might have five, six, seven thousand stoves being sold,’ Mr. Gliem said. ‘This year it was probably double that.’"

To get an idea on the cost differential, consider the following: "Coals vary in quality, but on average, a ton of coal contains about as much potential heat as 146 gallons of heating oil or 20,000 cubic feet of natural gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. A ton of anthracite, a particularly high grade of coal, can cost as little as $120 near mines in Pennsylvania. The equivalent amount of heating oil would cost roughly $380, based on the most recent prices in the state – and over $470 using prices from December 2007. An equivalent amount of natural gas would cost about $480 at current prices." 

UPDATE: The Heritage Foundation just released this series of questions for Chu, as well.