Research Projects


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County, OU collaborate to test water near injection wells

David DeWitt for The Athens NEWS Sep 14, 2015

CE3 Work Study Position Available Starting Fall 2015

Join the CE3 Student Team!

Elissa Welch Aug 11, 2015

Space studies team project harnesses space tech to monitor Ohio hydraulic fracturing sites

Pete Shooner for the Russ College of Engineering and Technology Aug 6, 2015

Waste to Fuel: Bioenergy Open House 

The OHIO Compost Facility on The Ridges, 7876 Blackburn Road, Athens 
Wed, Oct 7 2:00 PM


Southeastern Ohio Energy Business Inventory

The Voinovich School recently completed a southeastern Ohio energy business inventory as part of a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The online inventory used a Web-based survey to identify, build a database of, and build a map of energy‐related businesses in the region. Additional funding received from the U.S. Economic Development Administration complements this project to expand the inventory statewide. The evolving project Web site is: http://www.ohio.edu/ce3/resources/energylocations.cfm.

Wind Supply Chain Mapping

The Voinovich School is completing phase six of a Wind Supply Chain Mapping Project for the Great Lakes Wind Network (GLWN). This is a database and map of more than 300 companies that are building and supplying parts for the wind energy industry. The School built and maintains this site for GLWN. The map can be found at http://maps.glwn.org/wind/. The School is currently working to develop a similar database and website for Ohio’s solar supply chain.

Assuring Ohio’s Competitiveness in a Carbon-Constrained World

The Voinovich School and project partner, The Ohio State University, received a grant from the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) to develop a framework for appropriate and useful decision support tools for state policymakers relating to energy and climate policies. The project, entitled “Assuring Ohio’s Competitiveness in a Carbon-Constrained World,” 1) identified the state’s major contributors of GHGs in an emissions database; 2) conducted an analysis of federal climate legislative proposals and the opportunities and challenges the legislation may present to the state’s economy, 3) presented policy considerations for Ohio policymakers, and 4) modeled the economic consequences of climate change legislation and energy regulations on the state’s economy. The project findings can be found at www.ohioenergyresources.com.

PORTS Habitat Project

The PORTS Habitat Project, part of our PORTS Future contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, demonstrates the breadth of skills of the CE3 Land Team. The team is conducting detailed field assessments of 150 sample plots on the 3,700-acre DOE facility and some neighboring private lands. The result of this process will be a georeferenced database and land use map that can be utilized as a land planning tool and for wildlife management.

The Nonpoint Source (NPS) Annual Monitoring Initiative

The Nonpoint Source (NPS) annual monitoring initiative and on-line reporting system for water quality was created for ODNR’s Division of Mineral Resources Management in 2005. Voinovich School staff, faculty and students continue to evaluate the success of the acid mine drainage reclamation projects throughout the coal-bearing region of Ohio in term of stream mile recovery, acid load reductions, and project costs annually. All reports, maps, water quality data, and stream health maps can be accessed at www.watersheddata.com.

Comprehensive Land Use Plan Update

The GIS team worked with the Athens County Regional Planning Commission to provide the detailed mapping needed for a comprehensive land use plan update. Land use issues were identified with a corresponding mapping component. Key land use features that were mapped included: transportation infrastructure (rail, highway, bicycle, barge); natural hazards (landslip, flood, mine subsidence); utilities infrastructure (water, wastewater, major electric, major natural gas); demographics by township, village, and city; historic and cultural sites; critical facilities; watersheds; and government-owned property.

U.S. EPA Mercury Monitoring

The Center was recently awarded a highly-competitive U.S. EPA mercury monitoring project through the National Atmospheric Deposition Program. The Center’s researchers, two full-time research staff and graduate students, are currently engaged in studying the fate of mercury emissions from local power plants, as well as worldwide sources, to understand the economic and environmental value of implementing control systems on local power plants. Click here to view a recent presentation.

Carbon Footprint Analysis (Cleveland)

The Center received funding from the EPA to support a carbon footprint analysis for the city of Cleveland and has worked in northeast Ohio (with Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency), central Ohio (with Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission), and southwestern Ohio (with Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission) on a broad range of air quality issues.

Energy Policy for Ohio Manufacturers

The CE3 team is working with The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association to help them develop a roadmap for energy policies and practices beneficial to Ohio’s manufacturing sector. Based upon the feedback received during member interviews and in combination with research conducted by CE3, OMA is leading the charge in Ohio to make energy a top issue for industry.

Hazard Mitigation Planning Services

The CE3 Land Team provides hazard mitigation planning services. Hazard mitigation is a process that assists a community to reduce its risk of being negatively impacted by an unplanned event. The hazard may be natural such as a flood or tornado, a spill of hazardous materials, or a terrorist incident. Degree of risk is assessed and a series of options is provided that can help reduce that risk to varying degrees.

Research on the Reuse of CO2 Using Microalgae

The Ohio Coal Research Center and the Biofuels Lab, partnering with the Center for Air Quality's Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE), has engaged in more than a decade of research on the reuse of CO2 using microalgae. With more than $2 million in funding from the Department of Energy, researchers have created bioreactor technologies to enhance the growth of microalgae from coal flue gas. Researchers are also developing technologies to convert the energy within the algae into biofuels, such as biodiesel and syngas.

The Raccoon Creek Partnership

Since 1999, the Voinovich School has coordinated the efforts to restore the Raccoon Creek Watershed from acid mine drainage. The Raccoon Creek Partnership, sponsored by Ohio University, works toward conservation, stewardship, and restoration of the watershed for a healthier stream and community. Nearly $20 million has been spent on 17 successful reclamation projects (as of 2015), resulting in improved stream health for more than 42 miles of streams in areas previously impacted by acid mine drainage. For more information visit www.raccooncreek.org or find us on Facebook. A short video titled a “Raccoon Creek a Wonder to Wander,” created by OU student, Nora Rye, and the Raccoon Creek Partnership, can be found on YouTube.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Assistance Services

In October 2009, the Voinovich School received a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to provide energy efficiency and renewable energy assistance services to businesses and communities through the Ohio Energy Resource Center. This current project will support business development, economic development, and smart energy usage in communities throughout the region. Click here to view a recent presentation.

A New Energy Climate for Ohio Manufacturers

In late 2010, Ohio University hosted its third one-day workshop entitled, “A New Energy Climate for Ohio Manufacturers.” Ohio University partnered with The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association to present this series of workshops funded by Ohio EPA’s Environmental Education Fund. The goals of the workshops were to educate Ohio manufacturers on energy- and climate-related policies that may affect their operations, and explore the ways in which manufacturers can reduce energy costs and mitigate the effects of such policies on their operations and their bottom line. Click here to view the agendas from the three workshops.

Securing America’s Energy Future

In 2006, CE3 released Ohio: Securing America’s Energy Future, the first statewide energy policy plan in more than 10 years, which informs energy policy strategies evolving today in Ohio. Click here to read the 2006 report, and click here to read the 2008 update.

U.S. EPA GHG Reporting Program Outreach

CE3 is working with the U.S. EPA to conduct outreach to Ohio companies whose facilities will be required to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under federal law. The CE3 Policy Team is working to conduct webinars, workshops and online resources that will help to inform this effort.

To visit CE3's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program Portal, please visit: www.ohio.edu/ce3/ghgrp.

Modeling the Recovery of Streams

American Electric Power (AEP) has supported watershed programs for more than a decade at the Voinovich School, through a series of programs that focus on sound science and data collection to drive water restoration efforts. Currently, AEP funds provide for the AEP professorship award, as well as AWRG collaborative project titled “Modeling the Recovery of Streams.” This is a regionally-specific model that quantifies biological recovery potential after acid mine drainage reclamation. Hewett Fork, a major tributary to Raccoon Creek, is being used as a case study for this research.

Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Future Vision Project

A team of university faculty and staff led by the Voinovich School received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct a public outreach project in support of the cleanup activities occurring at the site of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon, Ohio. This Cold-War era plant, which produced weapons-grade uranium for the military and, later, for the nuclear power industry, was closed in 2006 and is slated to be demolished. The Voinovich School is working with community partners from around the region to generate scenarios for future uses for the facility and conduct specific research projects related to the energy and environmental future of the site. The project website is: www.portsfuture.com.

Ohio Real-Time Air Quality Mapping

The Ohio University Center for Air Quality housed at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology manages the only university-based air quality assessment “supersite” for monitoring SO2, particulates, mercury, ozone, CO2, CO, and NOX in Ohio. With more than $5 million in external research grants, the Center supports every metropolitan area in the state with modeling, monitoring and policy input data. Click here to see Ohio Real-Time Air Quality Mapping.


GeoVisualization tools provide stakeholders with the ability to make balanced environmental decisions using available information on a complex set of environmental data and examining a number of scenarios or policy options to determine a best fit. Design systems with effective visual displays, direct manipulation interfaces and dynamic queries, allow users to responsibly and confidently pursue even more ambitious projects and strategies.

DynamicMap and Water Quality

Data User Interfaces Dynamic map is an interface designed to facilitate easier viewing and dynamic query sliders for the analysis of map-related water quality and biology data trends data.

ViewTogether Visualization

Information visualizations with multiple coordinated views enable users to rapidly explore complex data and discover relationships. ViewTogether is a tool for creating these coordinated views.

Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative

The Voinovich School, in partnership with Rural Action, has been awarded Phase Five funding from The Sugar Bush Foundation to continue the important work of the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI). The research conducted by the Voinovich School in the first four phases, including case studies of select Ohio recycling programs, a residential recycling survey, wasteshed mapping, and a materials recovery facility feasibility study, helped inform the development of a community-supported Zero Waste Action Plan. Starting in 2015, Phase Five activities will continue to grow tools and services for communities and businesses and increase on-campus efforts including a Principles of Waste Management course at the Voinovich School and numerous green initiatives (see “OHIO Zero Waste” project). More information can be found at http://ruralaction.org/programs/zerowaste/. Also, for a unique perspective on the project, watch the video of former Voinovich School Graduate Research Assistant Megan Chapman, as she shares her experience working with AOZWI.

Report Measures Local Pre-Fracking Baseline Water Quality

In Eastern and Southern Ohio, oil and gas leases are rapidly being signed for drilling in the Utica Shale. In order to quantify impacts of shale gas exploration, baseline environmental conditions must first be measured. With start-up funding from Ohio University and The Sugar Bush Foundation, the Voinovich School partnered with OU's Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment Laboratory (ISEE), The Sugar Bush Foundation, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a regional shallow aquifer groundwater study. This study measured baseline water quality parameters prior to the commencement of controversial high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing drilling activities in and around Athens and Belmont Counties in Ohio.

Findings: The baseline establishment suggests that there is not widespread organic groundwater pollution in Athens and Belmont Counties, despite a long history of coal mining and oil and gas extraction. This information will assist rural landowners, elected officials and regulators to learn more about the complex issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing, especially as it relates to local water resources. Read the 2013 final report here.

Appalachian Ohio’s Open Geographic Information System Web Access

The Appalachian Ohio’s Open Geographic Information System Web Access project will help counties in southeastern Ohio to more effectively create and manage their parcel data. The project will create a shared web mapping service allowing counties to publish their data online and make it available to the public. This will allow citizens, as well as public and private interests, to have access to the data for real estate, investment, and economic development purposes, and more.

Ohio Shale Supply Chain Database

The Ohio Shale Energy Conference in April 2012 informally launched CE3’s business outreach efforts related to shale: the event convened more than 500 attendees interested in exploring opportunities to grow the local supply chain for shale in Ohio. The resulting Ohio Shale Supply Chain Database, funded by the USDA’s Office of Rural Development, has grown to include more than 1300 companies in regional shale supply chain. The database serves as a tool to help buyers and suppliers connect to source their shale development needs locally and, on a larger scale, showcases Ohio’s strengths to support economic development through an important regional strategic resource.

Laboratory for Sustainable Energy and Advanced Materials

The Laboratory for Sustainable Energy and Advanced Materials (SEAM Lab) has demonstrated expertise in the areas of alternative fuels, coal and biomass utilization, hydrogen technology, waste and drinking water treatment processes, polymerization and material compatibilization, supercritical fluid technology, and chemical process engineering and design. The laboratory is engaged in alternative clean liquid fuel synthesis via single stage dimethylether, waterless and sand-free fracking technology, enhanced oil and gas recovery technology, and advanced hydrogen generation using unconventional feedstocks such as crude ethanol beer, crude glycerin, mixed transportation fuels, and more. The laboratory is well equipped with state-of-the-art processing and analytical equipment for energy and environmental research.­ For more details, please visit our website at http://www.ohio.edu/people/lees1/altfuels.html.

Ohio Shale Development Community Impact Survey

The Voinovich School is conducting the first of what is anticipated to be a longitudinal investigation of the impact of shale development activities on communities in eastern Ohio. The report is based on the results of surveys conducted with local officials across 17 Ohio counties. The findings include what types of shale development activities are being reported and how shale development has impacted local populations, housing, public safety, infrastructure, employment, environment and the local economy. To learn more about the project, click here. For more information, contact Robin Stewart at ce3@ohio.edu.

Appalachian Housing Initiative Report

As part of a project funded by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Affordable Housing Research and Strategic Planning and the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, the Voinovich School in 2012 examined the ongoing impact of shale development on rental housing availability and cost and on homelessness in Carroll County and four contiguous counties. The findings show that demand for affordable housing has risen significantly. The influx of shale workers, limited availability of affordable housing in the county for residents, and housing per diems provided to temporary workers, have enabled rental market prices to climb. Additional factors have led to a strain on the existing housing infrastructure. The project is intended to help the Agency choose Ohio communities to monitor long-term. Click here for more information.

Abandoned Coal Mine Drainage Investigation in Wills Creek and White Eyes Creek

The Voinovich School has partnered with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to engage local watershed groups to conduct a water quality investigation of abandoned coal mine drainage in Wills Creek and White Eyes Creek in Coshocton and Muskingum Counties. The School will analyze the data and provide a summary report of impacts from acid mine drainage in these streams. Once Jen Bowman, senior environmental project manager, and Gary Conley, research supervisor for Ohio University’s Air Quality Center, present their findings, the MWCD will develop a viable and cost-effective restoration plan to provide cleaner water for Ohio. An article about the project can be found here.

OHIO Zero Waste

OHIO Zero Waste is part of the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI), with a specific goal of bringing together student organizations and OHIO administrative and academic units to promote green events and zero waste choices. Led by a student coordinator, OHIO Zero Waste works with campus events of all sizes, including large events like Athens Beautification Day, OHIO Commencement and Move Out to reduce waste and promote reuse and recycling. To learn more about Green Events, or to register your event as a Green Event, please visit http://www.ohio.edu/sustainability/programs/Green-Events.cfm or contact zerowaste@ohio.edu. Interested in where to recycle your stuff during Move Out? Here's a pdf map of donation sites around the city! Or click here for the web link which is great for mobile devices: www.ce3.ohio.edu/15.