The Rutgers Energy Institute is engaged in four principal areas of activity: education of undergraduate and graduate students; pioneering research; outreach to the community to share information and engage the public; and policy advice to government, business, and civic leaders who require current knowledge about energy use, alternatives, and innovations to guide decision-making and public planning.
Each of these four areas is critical to the overall mission of the institute: to foster both fundamental and applied scientific research and policy research to develop sustainable energy production compatible with economic growth and environmental vitality.
2015 REI Energy Contest Winners
The Rutgers Energy Institute annually challenges Rutgers undergraduates to develop implementable plans for reducing energy consumption on campus. The three winning entries were awarded prizes at the 2015 REI Annual Symposium on May 5th
1st Place Tie for $1,750: A Proposal For a Inductively Charged Wireless Electric Bus System
Major: Biotechnology Minor: Biochemistry Abstract: One of the most pressing issues of today is that of Global Warming. Greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of devastating floods, hurricanes, droughts, and other freak weather events across the world. Scientists predict that unless a drastic change is made to our fossil fuel consumption, we will cause irreversible
change to our atmosphere that could cause "dust-bowl like" conditions across the world. In order to prevent this problem, a wireless inductively charging bus system can be implemented at Rutgers, saving an estimated 1.5 million dollars a year in gasoline cost and reducing Co2 emissions by 40,000 tons.
1st Place Tie for $1,750: SkyTran at Rutgers
Major:Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior Minor:Agroecology Abstract: This proposal is to help Rutgers find a way to reduce its transportation fuel use and costs on campus. The bus system will soon become outdated as new technologies, including the one I am suggesting here, arise. Our bus system is very energy intensive, pollutes the air, costs the university millions of dollars every year, and exacerbates traffic in the city. It is also an inconvenience for students. Bus travel is time consuming and socially uncomfortable. I propose we build a SkyTran demonstration project on campus to try a new technology that might alleviate all of these problems and lead us into the future. SkyTran is a NASA patented personal rapid transportation system that has the potential to save us millions of dollars, dramatically reduce our carbon footprint, save students time, and make the Rutgers experience overall more positive.
2nd Place for $1,500: RUPOOL: A Social-Carpooling Application for Rutgers Students
Major: Environmental Policy Institutions and Behavior Minor:Spanish Abstract: Because more than half of America’s CO2 emissions come from vehicles, encouraging students to carpool can target this direct source of pollution and encourage continued positive behavior. Decreasing vehicle emissions, traffic congestion and addressing transportation inefficiency, a university wide car-pooling initiative would positively serve the Rutgers student body. By reducing the number of cars, carpooling or sharing rides with multiple passengers would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy. In addition, local traffic may be reduced by the eliminated of some cars from the road. By sharing rides with fellow students, participants can also save money. In addition, carpooling gives students opportunity to meet new friends. By participating, students use a carpooling application called RUpool to support a communal effort to commute sustainably and incorporate environmental practices into their everyday lives.
3rd Place for $1,000: A Multi-Faceted Approach to Minimize Waste from Rutgers Dining Services
Joe Woo, Matthew Lu, Moiz Rauf
Major(s) Materials Science & Engineering (all) Abstract: Food-related waste is a massive problem in the United States, accounting for $40 billion lost from commercial service operations alone. Additionally, environmental implications extend far upstream and downstream as well. Despite recent initiatives to reduce student produced food waste, Rutgers dining services is still a major contributor to this problem. This proposal therefore takes a multi-pronged waste reduction approach to minimize Rutgers' dining services footprint in this area. In part I, it is shown that installing preconsumer food waste tracking technology in kitchens can result in over 438,000 pounds of food saved each year. This corresponds to $333,216 in savings, or 3.74 million kilowatt-hours and 5.1 million pounds of CO2 reduced. In part II, it is shown that a small change in take-out packaging practices can produce a substantial change in the environment to save 350,000 pounds of CO2 emissions and 80,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. For a mere $230, a combined 3.6 million units of Rutgers’ styrofoam cups and containers and plastic bags is saved from landfills each year. In total, the two parts together combine for a total annual savings of $332,986, 5.45 million pounds of CO2 emissions, and 3.82 million kilowatt-hours of energy.