Growing Impact Podcast

Growing Impact is a podcast by the Institutes of Energy and Environment (IEE) that explores cutting-edge projects of researchers and scientists who are solving some of the world's most challenging energy and environmental issues. Each project has been funded through the IEE Seed Grant Program.

Growing Impact: Fuels from waste

In this episode:

Combustible fuels have been around ever since humans realized that they could burn wood. Over time, we discovered new energy sources—fossil fuels, which still dominate the world’s energy portfolio. But what if we could find another fuel source, one that was abundant, easy to procure, and people were happy to give it away? Something like municipal or agricultural waste? One fuel, called hydrochar, which is a proposed replacement for coal, can be made in a laboratory from waste using water and some low-cost catalysts. It might just be the answer to a burning energy question.

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Growing Impact: Cleaner community air

In this episode:

A lot of our lives is impacted by the air we breathe, both inside and outside. And where we live is an important factor in this equation. For those living in the Pittsburgh area, it is likely that they could be impacted by poor air quality related to large industrial sites that dot the western Pennsylvania landscape. To better understand the air quality concerns of this region and how it's impacted by complex terrain, a team of interdisciplinary researchers is working closely with communities and organizations in the region to explore what concerns exist and how they might be addressed.

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Growing Impact: The art of renewable energy

In this episode:

Developing renewable energy solutions and innovations is one thing. Having people adopt and implement them is another. To meet that challenge, researchers and designers have been creating art installations to engage the public and grow interest in renewable energy. Using nature as inspiration, the team has developed multiple concepts that look to increase renewable energy literacy and adoption.

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Growing Impact: Farms of the future

In this episode:

What does it take to get a piece of steak or chicken to someone's table? The amount of time, energy, water, land, and the resulting carbon footprint may be surprising. Today, scientists are exploring the farms of the future, including the generation of meat products through cellular agriculture. These animal-based proteins have plenty of pros, including sustainable production, and groups, ranging from U.S. government to the meat industry, are investigating the future of cellular agriculture.

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Growing Impact: Climate signals from wetlands

In this episode:

Wetlands are some of the richest ecosystems in the world. They support an extensive variety of plants and animals, from the smallest of microbes to the largest of mammals. Wetlands also filter and protect water, improving its quality. However, as climate change intensifies, wetlands are threatened by changes in precipitation, both too much and too little. They may also provide early signals of climate change impacts. 

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Growing Impact: Food-energy-water dynamics

In this episode:

The groundwater levels in India are consistently dropping year to year. In fact, India uses more groundwater than any country in the world. However, it is also a nation that lacks water availability, and its population continues to grow. A team of researchers is analyzing how an Indian government policy aimed at installing and using solar irrigation pumps in agriculture may further lower groundwater levels, impact energy use, and help or hinder food production in India.

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Growing Impact: In pursuit of energy equity

In this episode:

Cleveland, like many cities, aims to become greener in the coming decades by decarbonizing infrastructure and using renewable energy. However, implementing solutions has its challenges, from technological to financial. Add to this the challenges of ensuring equity, and the problem gets even more complex.

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Growing Impact: Vanishing tree

In this episode:

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    Kristina Douglass

What happens to a community or a livelihood when a key resource disappears? In Southwest Madagascar, the farafatse tree, a tree of great importance in that region, appears to be vanishing, and where it is traditionally found seems to be shifting. A team of researchers is investigating this phenomenon in concert with Malagasy communities to identify causes and potential risks for plant life more broadly. 

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Growing Impact: Water's plastic problem

In this episode:

Plastic of all shapes and sizes is showing up in bodies of water around the world, including microplastics, which are 5mm or less in size. But how these tiny pieces of plastic move through water and what impacts that movement is still a bit of a mystery. This includes biofilms, the thin layers of organisms that build up on material found in water.

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Growing Impact: When the levee breaks

In this episode:

A team of researchers seeks to better understand the social effects associated with flooding, such as whether racial and ethnic minorities, children, and those with low income suffer the most.

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