SJSU, Cal Poly Take Charge in Energy Innovation

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama called on America to advance clean energy research and technology. Obama said that investment in clean energy innovation holds the most promise for both our environment and economy.

San José State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo recently made announcements regarding their roles in such innovation: SJSU has launched a program to train students for the fast-emerging energy storage industry, and Cal Poly received a $1.3 million grant to help turn San Luis Obispo’s wastewater into energy.

Reducing our carbon footprint means making more powerful and longer-lasting batteries. Right now, there are roughly 40 battery-related companies in California—working to solve challenges that are critical to the electric vehicle sector, the solar sector, the wind sector, consumer electronics and more.

In an effort to educate the specialty workforce now needed for this rapidly growing industry, SJSU teamed up with energy storage innovation accelerator CalCharge to launch a “battery university.” The program’s courses are expected to be offered this summer through SJSU’s professional education program.

“The fast-emerging energy storage industry is key to the continuing success of the multi-billion dollar global clean energy economy,” said Jeffrey Anderson, interim executive director of CalCharge. “Ceding this important sector to another country would be a tragic and short sighted mistake.”

Cal Poly’s grant from the US Department of Energy will go toward the university’s involvement in the experimental raceway ponds at the City of San Luis Obispo Water Reclamation Facility—a pilot facility that has been invited to join the US DOE National Algae Biofuel Testbed program.

“Ultimately, we would like our research to help commercialize the use of algae in the wastewater recycling process and production of biofuel,” said Cal Poly civil and environmental engineering professor Tryg Lundquist.

Unlike fossil fuel, biofuel is produced by living organisms. Oils, carbohydrates or fats generated by microbes or plants are refined to create the green and renewable energy.

Lundquist and chemistry professor Corinne Lehr lead Cal Poly’s Algae Technology Group, which will coordinate the effort. The group is composed of faculty and students from six departments, including environmental engineering, chemistry, biology, animal science, food science, and electrical engineering.

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