Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory
Title: Experimental learning projects address contemporary issues related to energy, environment, and sustainable agriculture Authors
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 21, 2011
Publication Date: July 14, 2011
Citation: Nagchaudhuri, A., Mitra, M., Marsh, L., Schwarz, J., Daughtry, C.S. 2011. Experimental learning projects address contemporary issues related to energy, environment, and sustainable agriculture [abstract]. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, University of Alberta. 2011 CDROM. Technical Abstract: The “Bio-Fuel, sustainability, and geospatial information technologies to enhance experiential learning paradigm for precision agriculture project”, recently funded by USDA extends the environmental stewardship archetype of the preceding project titled “Environmentally conscious precision agriculture: a platform for active learning and community engagement”. During the initial phase of the new endeavor the project team have demonstrated the production of biodiesel using waste vegetable oil(WVO)from campus dining services. Under the supervision of the project leaders, the participating students from “STEAM”(science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics) majors have worked in teams to collect, dewater, and filter the WVO, and supported the acquisition of supplies and installation of the biodiesel processor. Subsequently, the students have performed necessary titrations and laboratory tests on the WVO, and operated and monitored the 48-hour production and wash-cycle of the processor. The process produces glycerin as a byproduct, which the students have used to make soap. Students have tested the ‘gelling’ tendency of different biodiesel blends, and are currently working with the university farm manager to identify farm equipment for biodiesel use, and the university safety officer to refine safety considerations. The broader scope of the project includes extending use of biodiesel, a carbon neutral energy source, as an alternative transportation fuel, to help address issues related to carbon footprint, climate change, and sustainable energy. Furthermore, the project will continue to focus on the use of remote sensing and advanced geospatial information technology tools to optimize the use of nutrients, water, and other resources for sustainable production agricultural practices.