From Bacon to Biofuel

3/2/2009 - Brown grease - a nasty melange of leftover animal fat, pan scrapings and other gunky residue - is a sewer pipe's worst enemy. In San Francisco, a pilot project led by two Berkeley Engineering alumni is in the works to explore for the first time how wastewater treatment plants throughout California might turn the unappealing stuff into biodiesel fuel. "For the city, it's going to be a win-win situation," says Domenec Jolis (Ph.D.'92 CEE), a senior engineer at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the project's co-principal investigator.

A Concrete Response to Climate Change

11/2/2008 - Up to 5 percent of the globe's climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions result from manufacturing the durable and immensely popular construction material known as Portland cement, says Cagla Meral, a 27-year-old doctoral student in the civil and environmental engineering department. Convinced that cement is far too useful and ubiquitous to ever be replaced, Meral is working to develop a greener form of it. Her research explores how carbon dioxide can be "sequestered" or locked back into blended cement while maintaining strength and other important properties of cement-based materials like concrete.

A Remedy for Deadly Water

6/2/2008 - In Bangladesh last year, Johanna Mathieu saw unmistakable signs of the poisoning afflicting the impoverished country. “Everyone would show us their hands,” says the 26-year-old doctoral student in mechanical engineering. The painful and disfiguring sores, blisters and dark spots are telltale indicators of the deadly toll exacted by arsenic-laced water wells. Mathieu is working with an interdisciplinary group to develop a simple, inexpensive process for removing the toxic element from the water supply.

A Hub of Sustainability

5/2/2008 - There were plenty of clues around campus that April was Earth Month: tree plantings, conferences and summits, awarding of Sustainability Awards and granting of Green Initiative grants. But the maturity of UC Berkeley as a hub of sustainability awareness and action goes far deeper; Berkeley marks Earth Day every day, and its efforts are being felt on campus and far beyond.

A Passion for Clean

2/2/2008 - Rula Deeb (M.S.’94, Ph.D.’99 CEE), a senior associate at the environmental consulting firm Malcolm Pirnie in Emeryville, has helped water utilities, government agencies, industries and others cope with pollution in wastewater treatment plants and groundwater basins stretching from California to Tennessee. She specializes in bioremediation, a process that deploys naturally occurring microorganisms to attack and degrade hazardous contaminants.

Engineering Grad Brings “Fiat Lux” to Nicaragua

1/2/2008 - In remote villages along Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, the seemingly simple act of switching on a light is anything but simple. It’s usually impossible. Mathias Craig (B.S.’01 CEE) wants to change that. Craig, 29, is cofounder of blueEnergy, a nonprofit organization that is harnessing the power of the wind to illuminate homes, schools and rural clinics in an impoverished region where nearly 80 percent of the population have no electricity. Since 2004, blueEnergy has brought wind turbines to six Nicaraguan communities, providing electricity to some 1,500 people.