1. Michael Caballero
  2. http://www.igert.org/profiles/4239
  3. Graduate Student
  4. Presenter’s IGERT
  5. Colorado State University
  1. Janine Stone
  2. http://www.igert.org/profiles/5269
  3. Graduate Student
  4. Presenter’s IGERT
  5. Colorado State University
  1. Jessica Tryner
  2. http://www.igert.org/profiles/5274
  3. Graduate Student
  4. Presenter’s IGERT
  5. Colorado State University

Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

  • Icon for: Ananth Iyer

    Ananth Iyer

    Judge
    May 20, 2013 | 10:34 a.m.

    Will your choice experiments focus on sustainable energy in general i.e., (battery, solar etc) or on the specific use of algae etc i.e., your approach to generating sustainable energy ?

  • Icon for: Janine Stone

    Janine Stone

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2013 | 02:51 p.m.

    Right now my work focuses on water use; specifically, consumers’ preferences for preventing agricultural water transfers and resulting “ag dry-up” that would hinder further potential for biofuel feedstocks to be grown in Colorado.

  • May 20, 2013 | 08:29 p.m.

    Can you explain briefly what is meant by “Discrete Choice Modeling”? This is a new term to me.

  • Icon for: Janine Stone

    Janine Stone

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2013 | 02:52 p.m.

    Discrete Choice Modeling is a method used to solicit consumers’ values for non-market goods or policies. It is based on random utility theory, the idea that the welfare a consumer receives is a function of the attributes/outcomes associated with a good’s consumption. To carry out a discrete choice experiment, policy options are broken down into attributes, and an experimental survey design is created where the respondent is asked which of a given combination of the attributes they would choose. These combinations are created in such a way to allow for estimation of econometric models, and the parameters estimated show how a change in the level of a given attribute impacts the welfare of the respondent. In short, it’s a way for us to determine how much consumers value policies, like preservation of water for agricultural use, and those values can be used to inform policy making.

  • May 21, 2013 | 06:32 p.m.

    Well described- thank you.

  • May 21, 2013 | 12:32 p.m.

    Could you comment upon the progress made in developing solid biomass cookstoves?

  • Icon for: Jessica Tryner

    Jessica Tryner

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2013 | 07:48 p.m.

    Many improved biomass cookstove designs have been developed and been shown to reduce emissions of pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and particulate matter, compared to a basic open fire. However, more work needs to be done to: 1) design stoves that reduce emissions even further to reduce health risks to users, 2) ensure that these new stoves are more efficient and affordable so that users will be able to purchase them and experience savings resulting from reduced fuel use, and, 3) ensure that these stoves are able to maintain low levels of emissions while performing whatever cooking tasks users need them to perform based on local culture and diet.

    We have decided to approach this problem by first seeking to better understand the combustion process occurring inside these stoves. Once we have gained a clear understanding of what is required to achieve low emissions and robust performance, we can work on combining these requirements with requirements related to cost and user needs.

  • May 22, 2013 | 08:16 a.m.

    Thank you

  • May 21, 2013 | 05:32 p.m.

    The three subtopics seem disconnected. Can you comment on how they are related to one another? Can dried algae be used to fuel cook stoves? Will semi-gasifier cook stoves impact public assessment over traditional cook stoves? Are there some connections that I am missing?

  • Icon for: Michael Caballero

    Michael Caballero

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 12:36 p.m.

    The diversity of the individual projects reflects on the fact that bioenergy is a regionally and politically defined enterprise. Bioenergy demands in the United States are different than those in Cameroon, and even vary within the respective nations. Our individual projects showcase this diversity. We are not proposing a linear production pathway; however, the broader implications of all of our efforts are united by environmental sustainability. A better understanding of photosynthesis can lead to major improvements in biomass productivities across photosynthetic taxa, subsequently minimizing the potential environmental damages associated with indirect land use change. Design of improved biomass cookstoves is largely driven by a desire to improve conversion efficiencies to ease increasing demand on forest or other local biomass resources. Large-scale projects such as bioenergy production are unsustainable over the long term without sound public support, and economic evaluation can help bridge the gap between technological opportunities and stated public goals, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental sustainability is the critical link between our experiments.

  • Icon for: Ian Harrison

    Ian Harrison

    Judge
    May 21, 2013 | 10:24 p.m.

    Here’s a really strange question for you! Some years ago I believe that the lagoon around Venice became loaded with algae so they dredged it out by the tons and let it dry up by the beachside whereupon huge swarms of flies ate it and multiplied so much that they were a real pest (http://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/13/world/now-ven...). How practical is algae as a biofuel if it has to be dried first and curing it under the sun is problematic because of insect population growth?

  • Icon for: Michael Caballero

    Michael Caballero

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 01:40 p.m.

    This is an interesting perspective! While some macroalgae have been cultivated for centuries for food purposes, they are not generally front-runners for algal biomass production. Nevertheless, dewatering and insect predation remain significant challenges for microalgae biomass production.

    Large-scale centrifugation can work for dewatering, but is energy intensive. Broad research efforts have tackled this problem. Biologically, engineered strains of cyanobacteria have been designed to secrete hydrophobic free fatty acids, which can aggregate at the surface of the media and can reduce the energy requirements for separation. Engineers have designed systems to condense cell densities before centrifugation, which reduces energy demands. These innovations could improve the practicality of algal biofuel production.

    Open production of microalgae can crash if insect grazers take hold of the culture. That being said, large-scale microalgae cultures have and continue to produce nutraceuticals using these open systems. More recently, separation of the culture from the environment has proven successful in preventing these crashes, but increase operating costs of the facility. Insect populations can compromise productivities, but may be managed by environmental or production facility conditions.

  • Icon for: Ian Harrison

    Ian Harrison

    Judge
    May 22, 2013 | 05:51 p.m.

    Thanks Michael, it was interesting to learn a bit more about how insects may interact with people’s algae crop.

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

Presentation Discussion
  • Icon for: John Field

    John Field

    Trainee
    May 22, 2013 | 06:22 p.m.

    People have been promoting 2nd and 3rd-generation biofuels in the developed world and improved household and distributed bioenergy technologies in the developing world for years, though progress has been slower than originally expected on both fronts. I’m curious what you think the ‘pinch points’ are for scaling up global bioenergy use in general. Do you think that sufficiently mature bioenergy technologies currently exist for either market and that policy impediments, environmental sustainability concerns, or consumer preference issues are the main hurdles to wider dissemination? Or is the demand framework generally already in place and just waiting for technologies to improve and costs to drop before the sector really takes off?

  • Icon for: Janine Stone

    Janine Stone

    Co-Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 08:32 p.m.

    Personally, I think a combination of these factors stall dissemination, but consumer adoption may be the primary limiting factor. Yes, technologies need to improve to the point where they are cost-competitive; however, we also see cases where consumers don’t adopt new technologies even when it would be economically favorable for them to do so. In these instances, we need to borrow from psychology, behavioral economics, and the energy/water conservation literature to understand how perceptions and habit formation impact consumer choice.

  • Icon for: Michael Caballero

    Michael Caballero

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 09:49 p.m.

    Overall, I would agree with Janine’s analysis. While technological improvements would presumably favor enhanced development of bioenergy projects by reducing costs, consumer preferences will dictate implementation. For example, while GM foods have been produced for decades, food-labeling advocates recently have been challenging the product’s supermarket anonymity. This may lead to a reduction of GM crops, despite productivity losses and increased environmental impacts. Positive social perception of a given technology is critical for large-scale development.

  • Icon for: Robert Opila

    Robert Opila

    Faculty
    May 23, 2013 | 02:33 a.m.

    Thanks—I like the mix of technology and policy in this IGERT

  • Icon for: Michael Caballero

    Michael Caballero

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 12:26 p.m.

    Thanks for your comment! Learning more about the interaction between technology and policy has been rewarding and has strongly influenced my perspective on communicating science.

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.