Leading the News
Joint US-European Project Turns Power Plant Carbon Emission Into Stone.
The Los Angeles Times (6/9, Khan) reports that scientists, describing their findings in the journal Science, were able to “turn more than 95 percent of [power plant] carbon dioxide injected into the earth into chalky rock within just two years” at a European-US pilot program in Iceland called CarbFix. Roger Aines, a geochemist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who was not involved in the study said, “Nobody had ever actually done a large-scale experiment like they’ve done, under the conditions that they did it.” The Times explains that the project injected water and dissolved carbon dioxide deep into a layer of basaltic rock where it leaches minerals and recombines to form carbonate rocks.
The New York Times (6/9, Fountain, Subscription Publication) reports that with carbon capture and sequestration having a “spotty record so far,” new research by scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and other institutions have found an alternative method with results “beyond all our expectations,” according to Edda Aradottir of Reykjavik Energy, who manages the project. Scientist found that 95 percent of the 250 tons of CO2 they took was converted into calcite in less than two years.
Senate Panel Scheduled To Vote On Year-Round Pell Language.
The Politico (6/9) “Morning Education” blog reports that the Senate Appropriations Committee was scheduled to “consider the funding bill that restores year-round Pell Grants,” noting that higher education advocates “are strongly pushing back on the bill because it would also tap about $1.2 billion of the estimated $7.8 billion funding surplus in the Pell Grant program to pay for other, non-student-aid items in the budget.”
NYTimes Hosts Debate On GI Bill For For-Profit Colleges.
The New York Times (6/9, Subscription Publication) runs a “Room for Debate” feature on the controversy over whether “colleges that charge exorbitant fees but provide poor training and job placement” should be eligible for GI Bill funds. Contributing essayists include Mark Schneider of the American Institutes for Research (6/9, Schneider, Subscription Publication), Joyce Raezer of the National Military Family Association (6/9, Raezer, Subscription Publication), Robert Shireman of the Century Foundation (6/9, Subscription Publication), and Shawn A. Mann of Thomas Edison State University (6/9, Mann, Subscription Publication).
Campaign To Eliminate $1,300 Medical School Exam Gaining Support.
The Washington Post (6/9, Douglas-Gabriel) reports a campaign to eliminate a $1,275 exam that medical students are required to take is gaining support. The campaign began with a group of Harvard Medical School students in March, but now has the support of over 15,000 students, residents, and physicians from over 130 medical schools. The Michigan State Medical Society and the Massachusetts Medical Society have both voted to raise the issue at an American Medical Association meeting in June. The article suggests that the campaign is gaining momentum amid a larger debate about the high cost of medical education.
Connecticut Seeks To Attract Massachusetts College Students With In-State Tuition.
The Connecticut Mirror (6/9, Thomas) reports Connecticut public college officials are sending postcards to 80,000 potential students living in Massachusetts offering them in-state tuition rates at Asnuntuck Community College, as part of an effort to increase enrollment.
Research and Development
3-D Food Printing Profiled.
Sophia Hollander writes in a column in the Wall Street Journal (6/9, Hollander, Subscription Publication) about 3-D printed food. Pioneer Hod Lipson, an engineering professor at Columbia University, is working on improving the technology, including a printer that cooks as it prints. He has developed recipes with chefs at what is now the International Culinary Center. The technology could particularly make a difference in nursing homes and hospitals, where patients may be only able to eat mush, but frequently reject it. There, the printers could create attractive, edible meals with nutrition customized to the patient. However, Dave Arnold, founding director of the technology department at the International Culinary Center, argues such printers are limited by their small nozzle sizes. Each ingredient must be ground into small particles and will clog when dealing with foods such as pepper, garlic, or herbs.
Designer Of Underwater Turbines Profiled.
Bloomberg News (6/9, Parks) profiles Herbert Williams, who created the “design for one of the first commercial-scale turbines meant to convert tidal energy to electricity.” The patents were bought by . Irish company OpenHydro and used “to create the first and still-biggest source of tidal power sold to consumers through the U.K. grid.” His story starts when he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison because the clients he agreed to design and build a superfast catamaran for turned out to be drug smugglers. During his time in prison, “a fellow inmate taught him technical drawing” and he became “a full-time inventor.”:
Grant Awarded For Mobile App Development Curriculum.
The Henrietta (NY) Post (6/9) reports the Rochester Institute of Technology received an $820,504 grant from the National Science Foundation to “develop a new curriculum for mobile app development” for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The money “will be used to develop a new mobile app curriculum for all students, with teaching techniques tailored to the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students at NTID.”
Northrop Grumman, NEC Partner On Japan Cyber Range.
Defense Daily (6/9, Abott) reports Northrop Grumman and NEC Corporation are partnering to deliver the Japan-Cyber Operations Research, Training and Experimentation (J-CORTEX) system, a “private, cloud-based cyber range” used for emulating systems environments for testing and training.
Engineering and Public Policy
Industry Leaders Call For New NRC Approval Framework For Advanced Reactors.
Bloomberg BNA (6/9, Kern) reports that the NRC “needs to develop a regulatory framework specifically for advanced nuclear reactors and review applications for them efficiently, vendors that are developing the next-generation nuclear reactors told the agency.” Companies developing “advanced non-light reactors” say the current regulatory framework “doesn’t apply to their technologies, which are cooled by substances other than water—such as sodium, gas, molten salt and lead—and have safer profiles than existing reactors.” According to Eric Loewen, “chief consulting engineer at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, which is building the PRISM, a high energy sodium-cooled reactor, the current regulatory framework ‘is unworkable for any advanced reactor.’” At an NRC and DOE workshop June 8 Loewen “said the current NRC processes have led to cost and schedule uncertainties, making these advanced nuclear projects difficult to complete.” In fact, “GE has been working on the PRISM reactor since 1985, when it first received DOE funding.”
Pipeline Work Begins After Iowa Board Approval.
The AP (6/9, Pitt) reports that, according to Lisa Dillinger with Texas-based Dakota Access, “work has begun in Iowa on an oil pipeline despite repeated attempts by landowners and environmental groups to stop it.” She said “the Iowa Utilities Board signed a final order Wednesday allowing construction on the $3.8 billion, 1,150-mile pipeline that spans four states, and work began shortly after that.” However, the company “has not received permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers for river crossings and other federal land in Iowa, including a parcel that is under investigation as a possible Native American burial site.”
DOE To Soon Unveil Plans To Overhaul SPR.
Reuters (6/9, Gardner) reports the US boasts the “largest stash of emergency oil supplies” in the world “yet the country’s ability to influence global crude markets with releases from that reserve has waned.” The White House hopes to address “that problem with an overhaul of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve” and “details about its plans should be revealed in coming weeks.” DOE “is expected to send Congress a report detailing a proposal to modernize the SPR.” Reuters adds that “it remains to be seen exactly how the Obama administration will approach the overhaul, and the next president…may have different ideas.” Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz “has indicated one priority, since pipelines are clogged, is to build additional terminals and docks at the SPR so more ships can move oil.” Bloomberg News (6/9, Wingfield) also provides coverage of this story.
Clean Coal Effort Stalls In Texas.
The Texas Tribune (6/9, Malewitz) reports on former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller’s effort to promote clean coal technology statewide, an effort that “hasn’t gone as well.” Miller now works for Summit Power Group which has yet to begin construction of a gasification plant in West Texas. The US Department of Energy “froze funding” for the project “earlier this year while the agency’s inspector general was conducting a highly critical audit.” Total projected costs had risen from $2 billion to $3.9 billion, “with the agency on the hook for $450 million.” Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, said, “This is a tough time in the world of carbon capture” because the “market fundamentals are out of whack.” While DOE continues to support the carbon capture concept, “They are years behind milestones,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told the Tribune last month.
Sen. Inhofe Says EPA’s Clean Power Plan Could “Restructure Every Industrial Sector.”
The Hill (6/9, Cama) reports that Sen. James Inhofe (OK-R) told a congressional committee hearing that he fears the EPA’s Clean Power Plan could give it power to regulate the entire industrial sector. He said, “If EPA can convince the courts to uphold their approach to regulating the utility industry through the means Congress never authorized, then they will take these same arguments and use them to restructure every industrial sector in this country.” Sen. Ben Cardin (MD-Ds) disagreed with Oklahoman senator, and said that because Congress has failed to pass new environmental laws, the EPA is working to address climate change as best it can.
Company Says Wind Tax Discussion In Wyoming Creates “Uncertainty” For Projects.
The AP (6/9) reports increasing the tax on wind generation in Wyoming “could derail a proposed 1,000-turbine wind farm in Carbon County, a representative of the company behind the project said.” Power Company of Wyoming vice president Roxanne Perruso said, “The discussion of increasing the taxes on wind puts the project at risk. … It’s another uncertainty.” Members of the Joint Revenue Committee in the legislature “are discussing two proposals that would raise wind taxes.” The discussion is taking place “as Power Company of Wyoming continues to seek permits for its proposed Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project south of Rawlins.”
Maine Officials Asked By Businesses To Protect Solar Net Metering Policy.
The AP (6/9) reports “a pro-solar group of rural business owners, environmentalists and a Belfast city official” yesterday asked the Public Utilities Commission in Maine “to protect a net metering policy providing owners with credits for unused solar power.” Two months ago, Gov. Paul LePage “vetoed a consensus bill that would have moved away from traditional net metering…and required the state to increase solar capacity through long-term contracts.” The governor “insisted the bill must protect ratepayers by instituting a price cap that solar advocates argued would tank the market.” But yesterday at a news conference, “solar owners and advocates asked the Public Utilities Commission to maintain current net-metering rules during an upcoming review of such rules.”
Kentucky DOE At Odds With ED Over Science Testing, Accountability.
The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal (6/9) reports that Kentucky Commissioner Stephen Pruitt has sent a “tersely worded letter” to Education Secretary John King in which he blasted ED’s “constant bureaucratic tinkering, pontification and dictatorial edicts” regarding ESSA implementation. A state official clarified that Pruitt is objecting to ED “taking issue with Kentucky’s science assessment and additionally requiring Kentucky’s new accountability system – or at least parts of it – to be in place sooner than initially expected in order to identify the state’s lowest performing schools for turnaround supports in the 2017-18 school year.”
ACT Survey: Common Core Isn’t Emphasizing Top Skills Needed To Prep Students For College, Career.
According to the 2016 ACT National Curriculum Survey, the Washington Post (6/9, Strauss) reports, many educators and workplace supervisors don’t think the Common Core State Standards reflect “what students and workers need to be successful in college and career.” The report found that “many workplace supervisors and employees believe skills necessary for success are not part of the Core,” including the top skill they think ensures success: “conscientiousness.” Likewise, college instructors place more emphasis on “the ‘ability to generate sound ideas – a skill applicable across much broader contexts’” – than on “analyzing source texts and summarizing other authors’ ideas as required by the Core.”
Young Engineers Being Development At Jefferson County Schools STEM Camp.
The Jefferson City (TN) Standard Banner (6/9, Clelland) reports that about 100 fourth through eighth graders attending four days of the Jefferson County Schools STEM camp are learning things such as cleaning up oil spills to programming robots. Jefferson County Schools STEM Coordinator Jan Coley said, “This is our fourth year to offer this amazing STEM camp for free…Our funding from the state grant, ‘Race to the Top,’ had ended. We could not have had this year’s camp without the generous support of the Niswonger Foundation.”
South Fayette Team In Second Place In International Robot Design Competition.
The Almanac (PA) (6/8, Funk) reports that is 1998, Denmark-based Lego Group partnered with US-based For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology to develop the FIRST Lego League which today has almost “a quarter of a million youngsters throughout the world participate in the league’s robotics competitions, including some South Fayette Township students who recently exhibited their technological expertise on a global stage,” and “won second place for robot design at the FLL Razorback Invitational International Tournament in May at the University of Arkansas.”
Thursday’s Lead Stories
• Research On Gene Drive Technology Has Potential To Eliminate Entire Populations Of Zika-Carrying Mosquitoes.