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About The Imagine Energy Traveler

Imagine Energy

While in the midst of fundraising, planning, and designing a new mobile demonstration trailer in 2013, the Iowa Renewable Energy Association was approached in early 2014 by Dr. Craig Just to assist with deployment and educational outreach efforts of a comparable mobile demonstration trailer his students were working on, also in the pre-design phase. Dr. Craig Just is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. In reviewing the separate but remarkably similar in-development designs, it became clear we had to work together!

The build-out and deployment of the demonstration trailer project, now dubbed “Imagine Energy Traveler“, is funded through an Iowa EPSCoR grant. The traveler features and demonstrates an assemblage of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Imagine Energy will be deployed across the State of Iowa at various events and locations in an effort to educate Iowans about the technologies we can all employ to make energy efficiency and renewable energy the primary source of energy in Iowa!

Iowa Renewable Energy Association is honored to participate in this ‘once-in-an-organizational-history’ opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Craig Just, Iowa EPSCoR, three Regent universities, Iowa’s community and private colleges, K-12 schools, state agencies, and regional businesses.

It is also with extreme gratitude that IRENEW thanks both the Bill Leighty Foundation and the Iowa Foundation for Education, Environment, and the Arts for seed money applied to early planning and pre-design of the traveler. As for this summer and beyond, we bring to all Iowans the product of many minds in collaboration, the Imagine Energy Traveler!

About Iowa EPSCoR and the Grant

The University of Iowa is among several institutions participating in a 20 million, five-year grant program to build Iowa’s research capacity in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The grant was awarded by The National Science Foundation in 2011 as part of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a federal program designed to improve the research capacity of eligible states or regions, making them nationally competitive for future grants.

Iowa’s designation as an EPSCoR jurisdiction has generated new opportunities for extramural funding for research at Iowa’s Regents Institutions. The Iowa Power Fund, a state program supporting energy innovation and independence, has also granted the project $2 million to pay for research equipment.

The core of the research project is being conducted at Iowa’s three public universities – Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa. The program also includes partnerships with the state’s community colleges, private colleges, school districts, government agencies and industries.

The research program’s vision is to establish Iowa as a leader in the worldwide transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The program will be built on four major platforms:

1. The bioenergy platform will investigate the challenges of sustainably producing large quantities of biomass (such as corn stalks) and using thermochemical processes to quickly heat the biomass to produce liquid or gas products suitable for generating electric power or upgrading to
transportation fuels.

2. The wind energy platform will use advanced engineering principles – including fluid dynamics, machine design and control theory – to improve the reliability of wind turbines. Research initiatives include establishing an outdoor laboratory to collect wind speed and turbulence data, studying the reliability of turbine blades and improving the designs of turbine drivetrains.

3. The energy utilization platform will study building energy science and how human behavior influences energy conservation decisions. The platform recognizes the role that the social sciences will play in understanding how people change their energy habits so renewable energy sources can replace fossil fuels.

4.The energy policy platform will explore ways for engineers and economists to collaborate and advise lawmakers on renewable energy and energy efficiency issues. The platform will establish an Energy, Economics, and Engineering (E³) program to train engineering and economics faculty
to work together on energy issues.

The grant project will also create a statewide Future Leaders in Advancing Renewable Energy (FLARE) Institute designed to develop the careers of junior faculty in renewable energy fieldsand broaden the participation of women, under-represented minorities and first-generation college students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The goal is to help
the state create a workforce that can meet the needs of Iowa’s emerging green economy.

The grant supports:
• Hiring five new faculty members to improve energy research at Regent universities
• Improving Iowa’s information technologies for energy studies engaging Iowans in energy issues
• Transferring campus energy inventions to private companies

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