Here's the latest news from AirUCI — our events, our people, our science.



Wednesday, February 3, 2021

AirUCI faculty Jack Brouwer is quoted in an article on the potential of green hydrogen to generate power while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The article in Bloomberg Law discusses this as an important option in the transition from carbon-based power sources while dozens of major companies are signing on to back hydrogen as a source of clean energy.  Jack has been advocating that the Biden administration consider repurposing existing—and in some cases abandoned—natural gas pipelines to transport hydrogen. 
Making that transition would not be technically difficult because most natural gas pipelines are capable of carrying hydrogen, with minor tweaks.  “This is what the federal government should be responsible for doing,” Jack said.  “This is a shared infrastructure.  It enables long-duration storage, it lets you transmit it across mountains—it’s got a lot of features that we like.”  Read the article

Monday, February 1, 2021

AirUCI faculty Steve Davis is quoted in an article on Grist on the challenge of de-carbonizing certain industries.  For shipping, flying, long-haul trucking, and manufacturing materials like steel and cement, among others, it's often not technologically or economically feasible for these companies to use cleaner sources of energy.  Add to this the fact that they also emit large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, they are proving difficult to de-carbonize.  However, Steve is proposing methods for capturing and sequestering the carbon they generate, as well as moving toward utilizing substitute ingredients in the manufacture of such products as steel and cement.
Changing these formulas is risky, since steel and cement underpin the built environment. “We don’t really want to play around with the recipe and then see a building fall down,” said Steve, adding that demonstration projects are key.  Read the article

Friday, January 29, 2021

An article in Yahoo Finance quotes AirUCI faculty Jack Brouwer on the topic of repurposing natural gas pipelines for transporting hydrogen.  With the Biden Administration's new emphasis on sustainable energy, these pipelines will be used less and less but could be converted to moving hydrogen for use in transportation fuels.  However, mixing natural gas molecules with hydrogen molecules creates problems that Jack says can be overcome by replacing compressors and steel pipes, which may become brittle and crack over time when exposed to hydrogen.
“We must investigate this for every single pipe we put hydrogen into,” said Jack, “but it’s a phenomenon we can manage because it’s slow.”  Problem pipes and compressors could be replaced over the course of years, he said. Or pipes could be protected with coatings applied from the inside by robotic devices called pigs that are currently used for pipeline inspection and maintenance.  “Just put some spray-painting equipment on that same device, and there you go, right down the whole pipeline,” Jack said.   Read the article

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A January 27th article in UCI News details a recent study by AirUCI faculty Steve Davis and his team, notably postdoctoral scholar Chaopeng Hong, who have conducted the most thorough inventory yet of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and other land use practices.  In their paper published in Nature, they document problems in cultivation and other agricultural practices, but also found many opportunities for mitigation around the world.  Read the article


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Environment and Engineering News published an article on December 8th quoting a new paper from AirUCI faculty Steve Davis on the true costs of wildfires.  Official death tolls count only those killed directly by wildfires, but exponentially more deaths are attributed to the smoke and air pollution they generate.  The paper also counts tens of billions of dollars in economic disruption and health costs that are not included in official estimates of $24.7 billion in damage, which tallies only property that was destroyed or damaged.
The study represents an expansive way of calculating disaster costs that is essential for the public to grasp as climate change intensifies events such as wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding, notes Steve. "It's been a challenge for people arguing to take action on climate change," he said. "It's very easy to know the benefits of using fossil fuels, but it's a lot harder to tally up all of these diffuse costs that the climate changing is having.  This is just one step in trying to do that."  Read the article

Thursday, December 3, 2020

AirUCI faculty Steve Davis is among the most highly cited researchers in the world.  Last week, Clarivate, an analytics company, announced its annual list of highly cited researchers. To make the list a researcher’s publications need to be in the top one percent of citations in a field in a given year.  Twenty UCI researchers are on the list, and 10 are from the School of Physical Sciences, including Steve — many congratulations!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

AirUCI grad student Annie Rohrbacher (Finlayson-Pitts research group) has been awarded an academic scholarship from the Southern California Timing Association, an association in which she participates in motorcycle land speed racing.  The SCTA-BNI Scholarship Program assists dedicated students that are an asset to the sport of Land Speed Racing. The SCTA is the sanctioning body of the world’s fastest speed trials. Annie participates with Anderson Miller Racing, which has achieved three land speed records at the Ohio Mile and the Bonneville Salt Flats. Well done, Annie!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

AirUCI faculty Jack Brouwer is quoted in a New York Times article on the increasing use of hydrogen as a fuel, especially for transportation.  Jack is director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center, AirUCI partner organization at UCI, which has experimented with hydrogen for years and formed partnerships with local governments and major corporations to popularize its use in Southern California.
Jack does not think hydrogen will become the dominant energy source soon, but he argues that it has great potential as a fuel for vehicles, power plants, and appliances.  Hydrogen, he said, will complement the use of lithium-ion batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and natural gas.  “Almost any objective analysis for getting to zero CO2 emissions includes hydrogen,” said Jack,  Read the article

Monday, November 2, 2020

AirUCI faculty (and Chemistry Professor Emeritus) Benny Gerber has been awarded the Gold Medal of the Israel Chemical Society (ICS) "for his fundamental contributions to the structure and dynamics of polyatomic molecular systems and deciphering mechanisms of atmospheric reactions".  This prize is the ICS's highest honor, drawing on Benny's decades of groundbreaking work in Israel, in Irvine, in Finland, and elsewhere.  Congratulations, Benny!  Additional details

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

AirUCI faculty Jim Smith has been nominated for the Innovator of the Year award presented by the UCI Beall Applied Innovation Center.  The center, with generous support from Don and Ken Beall, created awards to recognize UCI researchers who are actively working to promote commercialization of university intellectual property, which supports industry growth and moves inventions from the lab to market to benefit humankind.  The awards will be announced at a virtual event on October 27, 2020.