IDOE backs UMaine's biofuel initiative
The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded more than
$1.5 million to the University of Maine to advance ongoing efforts to
develop methods for converting biomass from Maine's forests into fuels
and valuable chemicals. The state will contribute 50 percent in matching
funds to the multifaceted project through the Maine Economic Improvement
The funding through the DOE's Experimental Programs
to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) will be added to the $6.9
million the Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative received in a 2006
National Science Foundation EPSCoR award.
The UMaine initiative is a multidisciplinary
collaboration of scientists from educational institutions and businesses
across the state who are working to develop effective and efficient
methods for transforming waste products from paper processing and other
wood-based enterprises into fuels, plastics and other materials.
"This project adds the thermal conversion pathway to
our earlier biochemical conversion focus for the utilization of woody
biomass to produce biofuels and other coproducts," says Hemant Pendse,
chair of UMaine's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.
"Together, these projects put UMaine in the position of strength to deal
with the entire spectrum of technical issues involved in biomass
Supporting 12 researchers across the state, the new
research cluster will allow UMaine to expand its efforts to overcome the
technological barriers faced by Maine companies working to develop
techniques for producing wood-based fuels and chemicals within the wood
products industry's infrastructure.
College students involved in emotionally charged
movements like campus-based antirape campaigns often describe their
activism as nonpolitical, but avoiding politics can limit the potential
to bring about social change, according to a University of Maine
Even actions that appear at first glance to be
apolitical have political consequences for movements and their
participants, according to Amy Blackstone, assistant professor of
sociology, writing in the journal Sociological Spectrum.
Politics has to do with power who has it, who wants
it and how it is negotiated, given or taken away. While very personal,
sexual violence also is an important social problem linked to broader
relations of power and inequity in society. Volunteers' self-effacing
characterizations of their efforts as above or below politics can limit
the transformative potential, says Blackstone.
Helping people is arguably the most important aspect
of the antirape movement. Activists and volunteers Blackstone
interviewed and observed emphasized that their work is done, in part, to
be with other like-minded people and, especially in informal settings,
to have enjoyment and camaraderie. At the other end of the spectrum,
volunteers see activities such as Take Back the Night marches and vigils
as solemn, almost sacred. In both cases, they perceive the emphasis on
emotion superseding the focus on social change.
Whatever participants' reasons for wanting to avoid
a political label, their involvement contributes to changing some aspect
of our social structure, and in so doing, they have found politics,
Fresh water in the gulf
Significant shifts in the marine ecosystems of the
northwest Atlantic in the past decade, including changes in the
abundance and seasonal cycles of phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish,
were the result of a dramatic increase in meltwater entering the ocean
due to climate change, according to two marine researchers.
In a paper published in a recent issue of the
journal Science, Andrew Pershing of the University of Maine School of
Marine Sciences and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and Charles
Greene of Cornell University's Ocean Resources and Ecosystems Program
suggest that the increase in low-salinity water entering the Atlantic
from the Arctic altered circulation and stratification patterns,
resulting in an ecosystem regime shift a large, relatively rapid
alteration in the ecosystem at multiple levels.
Dramatic changes in the abundance of herring, shrimp
and other species in the 1990s were reversed when saltier conditions
returned around 2001.
Breakfast and weight control
Maintaining a healthy weight starts with the right
breakfast foods that can increase satiety or a sense of fullness, often
reducing hunger throughout the morning and at lunchtime, according to
two University of Maine food scientists.
Delayed satiety contributes to overeating, which is
why it's never a good idea to skip breakfast, according to Professor
Mary Ellen Camire and dietetic intern Megan Blackmore, writing in the
journal Food Technology. The key to selecting good breakfast foods for
the greatest satiety involves knowing the effects of food volume,
proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and dietary fiber on appetite.
In their review of the literature, Camire and
Blackmore explored the options for increasing satiety through breakfast
foods. Those most satiating: oatmeal, followed by whole-grain bread,
high-bran cereal and eggs. Among the other points highlighted:
Expanding food volume without more calories by
whipping foods or adding water can increase the feeling of fullness.
High-protein meals delay stomach emptying and create
Fat-free breakfast foods may backfire because
satiety may be reduced.
An Australian study found a high-bran breakfast
reduced hunger and increased fullness and alertness most, compared to
meals of croissants, eggs and bacon, and cornflakes.
A green economy
From solid waste management companies to
nontraditional energy start-ups, environmental and energy technology
businesses and organizations in Maine generated
$574 million in sales, supported 5,269 jobs and
provided $222.8 million in employee earnings in 2006, according to a
survey by University of Maine School of Economics researchers.
The survey by resource economists Todd Gabe and
Caroline Noblet is the first comprehensive report on the economic
significance of Maine's environmental and energy technology sector.
Based on statistics from government and industry sources, the report
outlines a growing sector with nearly 700 Maine business and
organizations. More than half employ one or two workers.
Although these businesses can be found throughout
Maine, Cumberland and York counties are home to a combined 45 percent of
environmental and energy technology industries.
Funded through a cluster enhancement award from the
Maine Technology Institute and conducted in cooperation with the
Environmental and Energy Technology (E2Tech) Council of Maine, the study
provides a definition of the sector and a way to track growth.
Gabe and Noblet also expect to provide data
regarding operating conditions for businesses in the sector in Maine.
Insight lite: Too much of a good thing
How does your garden grow?
Hopefully a good summer growing season is yielding a bountiful crop of
fresh vegetables. It's about this time of year when the fresh veggie
harvest is continuous, bordering on overwhelming. The sustainable
agriculture students of the Black Bear Food Guild know all about growing
the freshest vegetables for their community-supported agriculture (CSA)
shareholders. They also have creative suggestions for coping with
copious amounts of produce that come on all at once, including profuse
zucchini. As in past years, this season's guild members Hayley
Williams, Britta Jinson and Elonnai Hickok offer CSA subscribers
recipes for using bumper crops of fresh produce. They also have general
Freeze those fresh veggies to enjoy summer produce
Try out different recipes on family and friends.
Ever had zucchini or beet chocolate cake?
Have a creative vegetable cook-off with friends to
come up with fun, innovative dishes.
Try juicing your favorite veggies in nutritious,
delicious drinks or dry produce to use in soups and other dishes.
Can fresh produce to preserve the taste of summer
for home use or gift giving.
Mercury in Acadia
A seven-year study of mercury contamination in
Maine's Acadia National Park has documented that fish, amphibians and
even tree swallows have high concentrations of the metal in their
In a series of papers published in a special issue
of the journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment,
researchers from the University of Maine, Plymouth State University, the
U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service and Harvard University
demonstrated why concentrations of mercury in the environment are higher
in some places than in others.
Ten lead scientists traced mercury as it moved from
the sky to the mountains of Acadia, down through the forest canopy, and
into streams and lakes, where it built up in zooplankton, insects, fish
and fish-eating wildlife.
The researchers found evergreen forests of spruce,
fir and pine act as air filters, raking mercury from the air. As a
result, the amount of mercury that falls through the forest canopy is
much higher than that detected in rain alone. The mercury is washed to
the ground with rain, snow, and falling needles and twigs, where it
collects in the soil, and eventually moves into streams and lakes.
Walpole and the White Sea
Researcher Alexander Tzetlin, a professor of biology
at Moscow State University and director of the White Sea Biological
Station (WSBS), visited the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center
in Walpole, Maine recently to discuss possible collaborations and to
learn more about marine laboratory administration from center director
Located on the Arctic Circle along the shores of the
White Sea, WSBS is one of the most remote marine laboratories in the
world. Accessible only by boat or snowmobile, the facility is one of
five marine stations in Russia. The fauna of the White Sea is very
similar to that of the Gulf of Maine.
Tzetlin hopes to increase the international
visibility and research use of WSBS, and sees the Darling Center as a
model. He spoke at length with Eckelbarger regarding operations,
affiliations, funding and marketing. The meeting also helped lay the
foundation for possible collaborations between UMaine marine scientists
and Moscow State University researchers. Moscow State has the largest
marine science program in Russia.
Optimizing Atlantic cod
An advantage of land-based aquaculture is the
ability to manipulate water temperature, an important factor affecting
growth, survival and feed efficiency of fish. That's particularly
pertinent when raising Atlantic cod and trying to reduce time to market
as cost-effectively as possible.
The key is in finding a balance between maximizing
feed efficiency achieved at lower temperatures and growth rate in warmer
waters, according to University of Maine aquaculture researchers,
writing in a recent issue of the journal Aquaculture.
UMaine aquaculture nutritionist Linda Kling, and
graduate students Adrian Jordaan and Jennifer Muscato Hansen conducted
two, four-week growth trials on juvenile Atlantic cod to determine
optimal temperature for best growth and feed efficiency. Among their
latest findings: Juvenile cod have good growth rates and minimal loss of
feed efficiency when raised in water temperatures up to 14 degrees C.
In documenting the relationship between growth, feed
efficiency, temperature and survival for juvenile cod, the researchers
found fish gained weight best in waters 14 and 16 degrees C, but fed
less efficiently than if the water was 10 degrees C. In addition,
cannibalism was generally higher in the warmer water.
A pellet twice the size of the 1 millimeter used in
the first experiment was fed in the second. A 2-millimeter pellet is
considered large for other fish species of this size, but appears to
greatly reduce the cannibalism that usually plagues cod hatcheries.