Today's Earth Week feature highlights three cross-disciplinary research centers where Caltech scientists and engineers collaborate on projects that will have a positive impact on energy, the environment, and Earth's sustainable future.
This evening at 11 p.m. EDT, a team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) will start unloading CHIP—or the "Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype" house, Caltech and SCI-Arc's entry in the biennial Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C.—from a flatbed truck and will begin the time-consuming process of reassembling the structure on the National Mall.
On September 6, after five months of 60-plus-hour weeks of construction—and another two years of planning and design—CHIP, the high-tech house built by a joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), will finally hit the road, en route to Washington D.C. for the biennial Solar Decathlon competition.
For Andrew Thompson, assistant professor of environmental science and engineering who joined GPS in August, growing up in Rhode Island gave him a natural affinity for the ocean. Now, he studies physical ocean science, focusing on eddies. While Thompson studies the way sea storms move things around, new faculty member and alum Victor Tsai, assistant professor of geophysics, is busy measuring the seismic noise produced by the movements of the ocean—partly from the crashing of waves onto the shore.
Environmental scientist and engineer Michael Hoffmann of Caltech has received a $400,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a solar-powered portable toilet that could help solve a major health problem in developing countries.
A joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) are working 60-plus-hour weeks this summer to complete construction of a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient house for the Solar Decathlon, a biennial competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that will be held from September 23 to October 2 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The power output of wind farms can be increased by an order of magnitude—at least tenfold—simply by optimizing the placement of turbines on a given plot of land, say researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) who have been conducting a unique field study at an experimental two-acre wind farm in northern Los Angeles County.
The world is taking note of the innovative work being done at Caltech—not just in the labs, but also in the unique renovations of our research spaces. The spring issue of Solutions Journal, a magazine of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), features an in-depth profile of the Linde + Robinson Laboratory, an astronomy facility built in 1932 that has undergone extensive renovations and will be the nation's first LEED Platinum laboratory.
For biochemist and chemical engineer Frances Arnold, the road to success has not been straight and narrow. In fact, she has often bucked the academic tradition of rigorous, time-consuming pre-experiment methodology for a more fast and furious approach to research.
When geologists survey an area of land for the potential that gas or petroleum deposits could exist there, they must take into account the composition of rocks that lie below the surface. Previous research had suggested that compaction bands might act as barriers to the flow of oil or gas. Now, researchers led by José Andrade have analyzed X-ray images of Aztec sandstone and revealed that compaction bands are actually more permeable than earlier models indicated.
Caltech scientists have concocted a recipe for a thermoelectric material—one that converts heat energy into electricity—that might be able to operate off nothing more than the heat of a car's exhaust. In a paper published in Nature this month, G. Jeffrey Snyder and his colleagues reported on a compound that shows high efficiency in a temperature range of around 260 to 1160 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, the heat escaping out your car's tailpipe could be used to help power its electrical components.