Dr. Jennifer Sklarew appears on Emerald Planet TV

(program begins approximately 49 secs in)

On May 14, 2017, Dr. Jennifer Sklarew appeared on the Emerald Planet TV program to
discuss the hydro-power micro-turbine project she is leading at Mason. When placed in
pipes for drinking water or storm water runoff, these turbines can promote potable water
and storm water management, while concurrently bolstering local electricity supply. Dr.
Sklarew, who teaches energy policy courses in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP), explained how the project contributes to innovations for a smart energy future. It does so, she said, by examining urban hydro-power micro-turbines’ potential to enhance resilience of both energy and water systems. The project leverages these systems’ inter-dependencies, rather than viewing these linkages as barriers to each system’s resilience. During the program segment, Dr. Sklarew discussed the project’s focus on defining and overcoming challenges to such micro-turbine deployment in urban areas facing acute energy and water insecurity. She emphasized that successful application of micro-turbines requires understanding of the technical, geographical, ecological, institutional, and socioeconomic
barriers to their use. Reflecting her expertise in energy and environmental
institutional analyses, Dr. Sklarew highlighted local communities’ education and long-term
commitment as key to addressing all of these types of challenges.

A seed grant from the College of Science funded initial collaboration on two
complementary assessments of micro-turbine deployment challenges. First, using
existing data from other pilot projects, a paper study evaluates the challenges facing
micro-turbine installation, operation, and maintenance, as well as applications for storm
water management and electricity generation. Second, water quantity and speed sensors
deployed on Mason’s Fairfax campus are generating predictive calculations of the water
flow needed to generate electricity for small-scale applications. This analytical and
technical groundwork informs the project’s next phase, a pilot deploying two microturbines
in storm water runoff pipes on Mason’s Fairfax campus. The project team will
use the pilot’s energy output to test and assess small-scale urban applications, such as
emergency lighting and cell phone charging stations. Analysis of the project’s challenges
and successes will launch a much larger international initiative to deploy the technology
in Ghana or India and analyze and address challenges there.

The lead PI for the project is Dr. Jennifer Sklarew, and co-PIs include Dr. Dann Sklarew of the ESP department, Dr. Paul Houser of the Geography and GeoInformation Science department (GGS), and Dr. Colin Reagle, Dr. Viviana Maggioni, and Dr. Celso Ferreira of the Volgenau School of Engineering (VSE). Students from ESP, Sustainability Studies, Global Affairs, and VSE will work with the faculty team to design, deploy and analyze the project’s data on challenges and solutions affecting storm water management and electricity output.