SIPI wins 2nd national renewable energy contest

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: 23-2: Climate Commitment, Tribal College News

SIPI WINS CHALLENGE. The SIPI Bio-Fuel Team included (front row, from left) Vernetta Long (Diné), Josh Begay (Diné), Advanced Technical Education department chair Dorothy Wester, Dr. Nader Vadiee and (back row) Dr. Massoud Ahghar, Monique Mousseaux, Felipa DeLeon, and Ralph Kelly. Not pictured is John David. BIA photo

The bio-fuel team from the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI, Albuquerque, NM) won first place in the 2011 Indian Education Renewable Energy Challenge. The SIPI Bio-Fuel Team’s project was chosen as the best collegelevel conversion process.

The challenge is sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), the Indian Affairs Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED), and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL).

This is the second year in a row that the SIPI team has taken the championship in the competition. In the 2010 college-level competition, the SIPI Wind Turbine Team tied for first place with the College of Menominee Nation (CMN, Keshena, WI).

The SIPI Bio-Fuel Team, including faculty sponsors and mentors, was invited to attend a BIE-ANL award ceremony at the Argonne National Laboratory and have its project results prominently displayed at the laboratory. This year’s SIPI Bio-Fuel Team student members are Monique Mousseaux (Oglala Sioux), Felipa DeLeon (Oglala Sioux), John David (Laguna Pueblo), Josh Begay (Diné), and Vernetta Long (Diné). Faculty team members are Dr. Nader Vadiee and Dr. Massoud Ahghar. The University of New Mexico mentor is Ralph Kelly.

Vadiee noted, “SIPI had an excellent team of students who worked on the challenge.” “We are very proud of our bio-diesel team and their accomplishments; our faculty and students are top notch,” added SIPI President Dr. Sherry Allison (Diné).

The 2011 competition was conducted in three steps. During Phase One, contestants submitted process designs (one per team) for a biomass-to-diesel fuel conversion process according to the following specifications. Teams could use any biomass material they wished. They also had to indicate how their process design ensures safety with the flammable product and the properties of any chemicals that may be used in its production.

During Phase Two, contestants with qualifying designs were notified in December 2010 and provided with $3,500 for implementation. These funds could be used for student stipends and project materials. A diesel-powered generator was provided to each team.

For the contest’s final submissions, students had to create one narrated video showing the process by which bio-diesel fuel had been made from biomass material and another narrated video showing the generator in operation fueled by the bio-diesel and powering some appliance. They also had to prepare a 100-milliliter sample of the produced bio-diesel fuel to be shipped in a container provided by Argonne National Laboratory.

The focus of the contest was to promote renewable energy development for Indian Country among students and teachers at the high school and college level. Students learned from preparing a proposal, feasibility studies, background research and team work, time management, budget management, communications, and partnering with other research and development entities.

The team produced a two-part video on the project that can be viewed on YouTube: zjd6p3e1T2Q and watch?v=Aa2uysY4Sa0.

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