- MSU-EPRI N20 Offsets Methodology Wins Key Approval
- Fish Oil May Improve Immunity
- DOE Renews Funding for Biofuels Research Partnership
- MSU’s New $2.4M Fund Will Develop High-Value Products From Bio-Based Feedstocks
- First-Ever MSU Science Festival Begins April 12
- MSU Board Approves Bio Engineering Facility Project
- Michigan’s Status as Hotspot Grows
MSU-EPRI N20 Offsets Methodology Wins Key Approval
New Verified Carbon Standard Methodology Gives Farmers Access to the Economic Benefits of Carbon Finance
Contact: Phil Robertson
Principal Investigator and University Distinguished Professor
PALO ALTO, Calif. – The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Michigan State University (MSU) announced today the approval of its nitrous oxide (N2O) offsets methodology for use in the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets program.
The methodology, developed jointly by EPRI and MSU, makes it possible for farmers to participate in carbon markets by creating GHG offsets by reducing the amount of nitrogen used to fertilize crops. Agricultural use of nitrogen fertilizer results in N2O emissions, a potent GHG, to the atmosphere. The offsets can be sold to other carbon market participants to meet GHG emission reduction targets or requirements.
EPRI and MSU developed this methodology as part of a two-year collaborative research project. Similar methodologies have also been approved under the Climate Action Reserve and the American Carbon Registry.
GHG offsets can be an option for electric generators and other industries to reduce GHG emissions more cost-effectively than would be possible as state and federal environmental regulations are adopted. As a compliance option, offsets allow companies to substitute lower-cost GHG offsets for more expensive internal emissions reductions or buying CO2 emissions allowances.
“When farmers reduce their nitrogen fertilizer use, they can generate carbon offset credits, which can then be sold to other participants in the carbon markets,” said Adam Diamant, technical executive at EPRI and co-author of the methodology. “This innovative approach is a way to achieve a benefit for farmers and for industries that may be required to reduce their GHG emissions.”
Nitrogen fertilizers represent one of the largest sources of GHG emissions from global agricultural production resulting in significant emissions of N2O, a GHG with approximately 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2).
“Reducing N2O emissions in row-crop agriculture like corn and wheat is one of the most promising approaches to reducing agricultural GHG emissions in the United States and abroad," said Phil Robertson, principal investigator and MSU distinguished professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences.
The science that underlies the offsets methodology comes from two decades of research conducted by MSU at the Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research site, which Robertson directs, and on scientific data developed by MSU through farm-field testing conducted from 2008 – 2010 in collaboration with EPRI.
“This methodology helps farmers optimize their use of nitrogen fertilizer and make money at the same time,” said VCS Chief Executive Officer David Antonioli. “By applying less nitrate based fertilizer, farmers can generate offset credits and sell them on the open market, thereby benefiting the environment and their bottom line.”
The VCS approved version of the MSU-EPRI N2O offsets methodology is referred to as VCS methodology VM0022: Quantifying N2O Emissions Reductions in Agricultural Crops through Nitrogen Fertilizer Rate Reduction. All supporting documents to this methodology can be downloaded on the VCS website. Additional background information on the methodology is available for download from EPRI’s website.
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, www.epri.com) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. EPRI's members represent approximately 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to more than 30 countries. EPRI's principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.
About Michigan State University
Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.
About Verified Carbon Standard
Founded in 2005 by the Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association, the World Economic Forum, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Verified Carbon Standard has become one of the world’s most widely used carbon accounting standards. VCS has revolutionized the market developing trusted and innovative tools, as well as pioneering efforts to develop standardized methods that will streamline the project approval process, reduce transaction costs and enhance transparency. Across the world, projects using the VCS Standard have issued more than 118 million credits.
Fish Oil May Improve Immunity
Jenifer Fenton, assistant professor in MSU's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Courtesy photo.
New findings from a Michigan State University-led study suggest a possible role for fish oil in improving immunity among people with certain health conditions.
The fatty acids contained in fish oil are thought to be effective at reducing inflammation. That’s good, says MSU AgBioResearch’s Jenifer Fenton, because inflammation contributes to rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders in which the immune system attacks the body’s healthy cells.
But inflammation is a sign of increased immune system activity – it’s why wounds get red and puffy as they heal – so it’s widely thought that if fish oil fights inflammation, it may also influence overall immune function.
A team led by Fenton, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, examined that influence by studying how the B cells of mice respond to fish oil. B cells are white blood cells that produce antibodies and call other immune cells to join the fight when infections occur.
For five weeks, one group of mice was fed a regular diet while the others had a diet supplemented with fish oil rich in a fatty acid called DHA. The researchers found that mice in the fish oil group had B cells that produced more antibodies and more of the chemicals that alert other cells to threats.
“Our data showed that the B cells not only weren’t suppressed – which would be the dogma – but that fish oil even enhanced their function,” Fenton said.
While more research is needed before the mouse study’s implications for humans become clear, Fenton pointed out that boosting B-cell activity may be good for some people.
“For example, the complication and mortality rate from influenza is higher among obese individuals, so that could be a situation where enhancing B-cell function could be useful,” she said.
Fenton collaborated with colleagues from the lab run by East Carolina University researcher S. Raza Shaikh.
DOE Renews Funding for Biofuels Research Partnership
At MSU's Kellogg Biological Station, GLBRC researchers are evaluating the performance of a variety of novel bioenergy crop production systems for crop yield and quality, impacts on microbial-plant interactions, biogeochemical and biodiversity responses and water use. Courtesy of Kurt Stepnitz
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University (MSU) $125 million to continue their work on advanced biofuels.
The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, housed at UW-Madison and includes a major partnership with MSU, will use the five-year grant to continue its work providing the basic scientific foundation for the sustainable, large-scale production of advanced cellulosic biofuels technologies to help meet the nation’s growing energy needs.
“GLBRC researchers, in partnership with the state of Wisconsin, the state of Michigan and affiliated industries, have made substantial progress toward developing the next generation of advanced biofuels,” said Tim Donohue, GLBRC director and UW-Madison professor of bacteriology.
“Renewal by the Department of Energy permits us to build on these scientific breakthroughs and accelerate our efforts to develop sustainable biofuels strategies, from growing plants for use as energy feedstocks to exploring novel ways to convert the non-edible components of plants into fuels for the automotive, diesel and aviation sector,” he said.
Rather than focus its effort on designing an ideal biomass crop or a single conversion platform, the GLBRC is taking a holistic “field to fuel approach,” that evaluates the energy efficiency, sustainability and economic viability of several technologies.
“This approach allows farmers or fuel producers in different parts of the country to select the pieces of our technology that work best for their crops, climate or fuels,” said Ken Keegstra, GLBRC scientific director, MSU AgBioResearch scientist and MSU Distinguished Professor of plant biology and of biochemistry and molecular biology.
Since its 2007 launch, the GLBRC has coordinated 60 invention disclosures and 58 patent applications, and is working with outside companies on 17 potential licenses or options. In 2012, the center celebrated two significant milestones: the first U.S. patent and the licensing of GLBRC technology to Hyrax Energy – the first company to emerge from the center.
“MSU is proud of the expertise and experience we bring to this effort, from our world-renowned plant research to our faculty in engineering, agricultural economics and education, as well as the scientists at the scale-up facilities at MBI,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “The GLBRC has provided unprecedented opportunities for us to collaborate across campuses and disciplines, and we know that this integrated approach will drive the most powerful solutions to our energy challenges.”
MSU’s New $2.4M Fund Will Develop High-Value Products From Bio-Based Feedstocks
Thanks to a $1.09 million grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, plus matching funds from Michigan State University (MSU), several bio-based MSU and MSU AgBioResearch projects will be fast-tracked for commercial development over the next three years.
MSU recently received the funding from the Michigan Translational Research Acceleration and Commercialization program as part of a state-wide initiative to invest in research areas that have shown promise in the laboratory, but need further development in order to become successful in a competitive market.
With MSU’s matching funds, a total of $2.44 million will be focused on MSU biotechnology and bioprocessing innovations with the potential to create superior value-added products and materials from agricultural-based feedstocks, such as:
- • Converting biomass feed stocks to chemical intermediates, high value oils, monomers, and polymers
- • Developing “trait genes” that selectively promote high-value downstream products
- • Developing microbes and algae for production of chemicals and biofuels
- • Developing technology to pre-treat and process biomass to upgrade the feed stocks and dramatically improve the economics of downstream processing
- • Developing agricultural technologies to reduce the environmental footprint and resource requirements (water, nutrients) in farming
During the next three years MSU researchers will be able to apply for funding to help drive laboratory technology toward commercialization, including support for scale-up services in fermentation technology, biochemical synthesis, separations and purification offered through MSU’s affiliated process and scale-up facilities: MBI in Lansing and the MSU Bioeconomy Institute in Holland.
“The bio-based chemical industry is expected to grow to more than $450 billion by 2025,” says Richard Chylla, executive director of MSU Technologies. “With a targeted investment like this, the State of Michigan is leveraging the rich pipeline of MSU’s basic science and research in this sector – which includes more than 34 principal researchers and 111 pending and issued patents – to produce materials, energy, and end-use products from sustainable sources that benefit society.”
First-Ever MSU Science Festival Begins April 12
The MSU Science Festival will touch on a host of science subjects, from astronomy to human behavior to robotics to zoology. Photo courtesy of MSU Today.
The Michigan State University Science Festival, a first-of-a-kind celebration of the science that touches people’s everyday lives, will run April 12-21 on the East Lansing campus and feature presentations by MSU AgBioResearch scientists.
The 10-day event, free and open to the public, will have something for everyone – children, teens, adults and seniors – with subjects spanning the science spectrum, from astronomy to human behavior to robotics to zoology.
The events are presented by members of the Michigan State University scientific community – faculty, staff, and students – as well as a number of science and technology community participants.
“Our goal is to share the curiosity and excitement that motivates the quest for new knowledge and ignite that same passion, adventure and awe with festival attendees,” says Hiram Fitzgerald, associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement.
There will be hands-on activities for families, science enthusiasts and learners of all ages. The festival will feature an expo tent, seminars, demonstrations, discussions, lectures, tours and open houses at various locations across campus.
“With more than 150 presentations on science, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, we want to convey the scientific wonders in our world and inspire the curiosity of all lifelong learners,” says Renee Leone, festival coordinator.Fast facts about the festival:
• An expo tent sponsored by the Lansing State Journal is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. during festival weekends, April 13-14 and April 20-21.
• April 19 is School Expo Extravaganza Day. More than 1,300 mid-Michigan youth will visit, representing 19 area K-12 schools.
• There will be shuttle bus transportation on weekends. The website and print program contain details.
• Flyers and posters are distributed around mid-Michigan. Program booklets with a complete schedule, event descriptions and campus map will be available at the Information Tents near Auditorium Field, near the MSU Museum, and near the
• Biomedical and Physical Sciences building on campus.
• Sponsors include: Lansing State Journal Media, Johnson Controls, Consumers Energy, Meijer, Delta Dental, Dominos, Wolverine, MSUFCU and a number of MSU colleges and departments. In-kind supporters include Impression 5, WKAR, Information Technology Empowerment Center and Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau.
MSU Board Approves Bio Engineering Facility Project
The construction of the new Bio Engineering Facility on the Michigan State University campus came a step closer to reality today as the MSU Board of Trustees gave its approval to the project.
At its meeting, the board authorized the university administration to proceed with the project which, when completed, will stand four stories tall and contain about 130,000 square feet of laboratory and office space.
The goal of the project is to bring together research teams from the colleges of Engineering, Human Medicine and Natural Science to promote the development of bio-engineering and engineering health sciences.
“By housing faculty from several colleges in this facility – with complementary research talent – we will be able to make great strides in medical technology through daily collaboration,” said Leo Kempel, acting dean of the College of Engineering. “This not only benefits the research enterprise, but it also will provide new learning opportunities for our students.”
The building will facilitate any number of collaborative projects. For example, researchers from various disciplines – including chemical engineering, electrical engineering, physiology and radiology – could come together to work in new areas of research such as tissue engineering, Kempel added.
The facility will be located between the Life Science and Clinical Center buildings on the south side of the MSU campus. The building will be physically connected to the existing Clinical Center C-Wing and Life Sciences B-Wing, with proximity to the Radiology Building.
Total cost of the project is expected to be about $60.8 million. Approximately half of that amount would be covered by $30 million from the state of Michigan. Approval from the state is anticipated by the end of May.
Michigan’s Status as Hotspot Grows
Sarah Nicholls, MSU AgBioResearch expert on Michigan tourism and associate professor of Geography and Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (CARRS). Photo courtesy of the MSU Department of Geography.
Michigan’s reputation as a place to visit continues to grow, fueling a steady increase in tourist spending despite the sluggish economy, finds an annual report from two Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch tourism experts.
Tourist spending in the Great Lakes State increased about 6 percent in 2012 and should see a similar increase of 5.5 percent in 2013, according to MSU AgBioResearch’s Sarah Nicholls and Dan McCole, who presented their findings today at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Detroit.
Nicholls said The Henry Ford in Dearborn had a record year with visits up 25 percent, to 1.9 million. Visits to Michigan’s popular national parks – including Sleeping Bear Dunes, up 14 percent; Pictured Rocks, up 6 percent; and Isle Royale, up 5 percent – far outpaced the 1 percent average increase at all national parks across the country.
In the state’s hotel sector, 2012 saw the highest occupancy rates since 2000, added Nicholls, an associate professor who facilitated the creation of the Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan for 2012-2017.
“We can attribute these positive outcomes in 2012 to a combination of factors including the warm, dry summer and fall, a continued rebound in consumer confidence, relatively steady gas prices and the continuing influence of the state’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign,” Nicholls said.
The MSU researchers predict tourism volume – the amount of people traveling to and around the state – will increase by 3 percent in 2013.
While many people are still hurting economically, McCole said people who tend to travel the most are faring well financially and have continued to make vacations a high priority.
Dan McCole, MSU AgBioResearch tourism expert and assistant professor of CARRS. Photo courtesy of MSU Today.
McCole said a number of current tourism trends complement what Michigan offers as a destination. They include:
- Food- and beverage-based tourism: Travelers are increasingly interested in experiencing the culinary offerings of the places they visit. The word is getting out about Michigan’s local food movement and the state’s growing number of high-quality wineries and microbreweries.
- Touring: There are a growing number of people choosing to travel from place to place on their vacations, rather than staying in one spot.
- Nostalgia: Parents and grandparents want to share with their kids experiences they either had as a kid or wish they had. “The messages of the Pure Michigan campaign tie nicely into this trend,” McCole said.
- Social networks: People are increasingly making tourism decisions based on recommendations from friends and family, and Internet-based social networks such as Facebook have allowed them to spread the word more effectively than in the past. This means many new people are being introduced to Michigan through shared stories from trusted sources.
Despite the strong expectations for the year, there are always wild cards that could change things for better or worse.
“This year we’re waiting to see how the economy will fare when the effects of the sequester budget cuts set in,” McCole said, “but barring a disruption to the economic recovery, we’re expecting another great year for Michigan tourism.”