February 2008 Newsletter

Dear Friends of CITRIS:

Let's hope the first decades of this century will be remembered for our success at diluting our dependence on carbon-intensive fossil fuel with cleaner, safer, more efficient alternatives. Here at CITRIS we have numerous partnerships and projects promoting innovative ways to get a grip on the energy crisis and its environmental, strategic, and economic aspects.

On the conservation front, among other things, we are expanding our work with the California Energy Commission (CEC) by building inexpensive wireless sensors and sensor networks for energy efficiency and demand-response. At a CITRIS Research Exchange luncheon at Berkeley in late January, LBNL researcher Mary Ann Piette described her research on automating demand-response in large commercial environments (http://www.citris-uc.org/RE-Jan30). And, as mentioned last month in a NYT article, the CEC is adopting another CITRIS-developed technology to help avoid peak-use related blackouts. Programmable Communicating Thermostats (PCTs) will likely be employed to allow the temporarily resetting of home appliances, like water heaters, air conditioners and refrigerators, when the system is peaking out.

On the production side, we are working hard with a growing list of energy industry partners. We were recently honored by a visit from representatives of StatoilHydro, the Norwegian energy company interested in our biofuel and nanoscience programs. One of the articles below features another of our efforts: developing white papers for small-footprint boiling water reactors that may one day both power the energy grid and make carbon-neutral liquid fuel from domestic resources such as tar sand, coal, and biomass.

Until then, however, our last-century energy practices are filling California's Central Valley with pollution, causing health problems for asthmatics and others. The second newsletter article in this issue describes UC Merced's Shawn Newsam's experimental work employing a network of cameras that may be able to provide real-time, localized information about the concentration and size of particulate pollutants in the air. And the same technology may aid the coordination of efforts to shift some of the power grid's burden to solar by giving PG&E up-to-the-minute data about solar irradiance in specific regions. In that way, Newsam's cameras may do more than help us live with our pollution problems; they may also help us to innovate our way out of them.

Keep up the good work.

Professor Paul K. Wright
Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society
C-GRACE International Meeting in Copenhagen
In June 2008, CITRIS is organizing C-GRACE, one of several mission-critical meetings leading up to the next U.N. Climate Summit.

Student competition deadline: $25K in prizes
CITRIS is proud to announce the third annual CITRIS White Paper competition, which will give away $25K in cash prizes for the best ideas that demonstrate the ability of IT to address a major societal challenge.

Craigslist to establish first endowed faculty chair in new media
UC Berkeley has announced plans to establish the first endowed faculty chair at the Berkeley Center for New Media with a donation of $1.6 million from craigslist, one of the most popular Web sites in the world.

Joint Nokia research project to capture traffic data
Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Nokia recently tested technology that could soon transform the way drivers navigate through congested highways and obtain information about road conditions.

CITRIS Research Exchange schedule for the spring
The spring schedule for the popular CITRIS Research Exchange series is now out. These talks are all free, open to the general public, broadcast live online and archived on our website. Please see the flyer for a complete list of speakers and topics at http://www.citris-uc.org/RE-spring2008

Carbon calculator honored in California magazine
To assist consumers, researchers at Berkeley Institute of the Environment are developing an online carbon-tracking calculator that produces a summary of all the greenhouse gases produced by specific consumer goods.

Berkeley researchers make thermoelectric breakthrough in silicon nanowires
Energy now lost as heat during the production of electricity could be harnessed through the use of silicon nanowires synthesized via a technique developed by CITRIS-associated researchers at UC Berkeley.

Winston awarded UC Presidential Endowed Chair
Professor Roland Winston now holds the Presidential Endowed Chair at UC Merced. Winston spoke on his pioneering work in solar energy and solar collectors at CITRIS last spring (http://ucberkeley.citris-uc.org/CRE-Feb28-2007).

CITRIS welcomes new staff members
• Heidi Hallet joins us at the CITRIS HQ as leader of the business aspects of CITRIS on all four campuses.
• Sonia Rivera is the new program manager at CITRIS Davis and brings valuable experience and capabilities to our CITRIS family.
• Tammy Tooley-Chelossi is the new administrative manager at CITRIS Santa Cruz and has an extensive background in development.