Home Local News UPR gets NASA funds for C02 research
Issued : Thursday, November 22, 2012 10:25 AM
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UPR gets NASA funds for C02 research

By CB Online Staff

The University of Puerto Rico will get part of $12.6 million in NASA funds awarded to colleges and universities to conduct research and technology development in areas important to the agency’s mission.

The selections are part of NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR. The program helps develop partnerships among NASA research missions and programs, academic institutions and industry. It also helps the awardees establish long-term academic research enterprises that will be self-sustaining and competitive, and contribute to the jurisdictions’ economic viability and development.

Seventeen proposals were selected for funding in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina (in conjunction with the U.S. Virgin Islands), South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont. Winning proposals were selected through a merit-based, peer-reviewed competition.

Researchers at the UPR’s flagship Río Piedras campus will use the latest EPSCoR funding to work to produce nanoporous materials capable of providing low volume/pressure carbon dioxide (C02) storage with on-demand delivery and minimal energy input.

“This proposal aims at enhancing NASA’s capabilities for long-term exploration missions, specifically those related to human life support and in situ resource utilization,” according to UPR researchers.

“One of the greatest challenges that NASA faces is loop-closure of life support systems. To accomplish this efficiently, the processes encompassing these systems need to provide uninterrupted service with minimal energy consumption,” according to the UPR team, which includes Gerardo Morell, Arturo Hernández-Maldonado, Maria Curet-Arana and Raphael Raptis.

The UPR scientists will be working with John Hogan of NASA’s Ames Research Center and James Knox of the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center

In addition to research and technology development, the awards enable faculty development and support higher education students.

The graduate students, undergraduate students and postdoctoral fellows that will be involved in this project will receive training in a cutting-edge technology development and will acquire skills transferable to industrial and academic settings.

The UPR team envisions that the scope of this project will be eventually expanded to include terrestrial applications, potentially in efforts to counter global warming.

“Efficient CO2 storage methods will be of utmost necessity for climate change mitigation, mine safety, atmospheric control in enclosed spaces, military applications, and synthetic fuel and high value chemicals production,” UPR said.

The award to UPR came on the same day the United Nations weather agency said concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant in the world’s air, reached a record high in 2011.

The World Meteorological Organization says the planet averaged 390 parts per million of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, up 40 percent from before the Industrial Age when levels were about 275 parts per million.

WMO officials said Tuesday there was a 30 percent increase in the warming effect on the global climate between 1990 and 2011, mainly due to carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said the 350 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere since 1750 “will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth.”

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