OSU Goes Greener

The Ohio State University today joined the newly launched University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, an alliance of 13 leading North American research universities that will create a collaborative model to help local communities achieve their climate goals and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.

In launching UC3, an initial group of universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico has committed to mobilize their resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states. All UC3 members have pledged to reduce their institutional carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral.

In 2015, Ohio State established strategic sustainability goals to guide the university into the future in its core areas of collaborative teaching, pioneering research, comprehensive outreach and innovative operations. Specific to Ohio State’s carbon footprint is a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and another to reduce total campus building energy consumption by 25 percent by 2025.

In pursuit of its carbon-neutrality goal, the university has reduced its emissions by 4.8 percent since 2015, despite increasing student enrollment of nearly 2 percent during the same time frame. In addition to energy efficiency measures implemented across the university, renewable wind energy accounts for 20 percent of the university’s total purchased electricity.

OSU Study Finds Out Why Old Work Commitments Linger

In a study of 420 employees representing a wide variety of occupations and work settings at three organizations, researchers found that commitments that workers no longer had were still lingering in their minds. While these effects could be positive or negative, the study revealed that many employees harbor negative feelings about long-gone obligations that their supervisors may not realize.

The research involved surveys of employees at a health care facility, a financial institution and a large, unionized manufacturing plant. As this was an exploratory study, the researchers asked employees just two questions: The first asked participants to describe in a few words a specific thing that they were committed to at work but were not anymore. The second asked them to say why they no longer had that commitment.

After reading the responses, the researchers sorted them into 11 broad reasons for why commitments ended. The most common was changes in work circumstances, which included about 30 percent of all responses. This could involve changed jobs or positions or shifted responsibilities.

The second most common reason, cited 16 percent of the time, was over-commitment. This included conflicting responsibilities or there simply not being enough time or capacity to fulfill all of one’s obligations.

The study appears online in the journal Academy of Management Discoveries.

Climate Change and Coral: An OSU Study

If this winter finds you stressed out and fighting a sinus infection, then you know something of what coral will endure in the face of climate change.

They don’t have sinuses, but these colorful aquatic animals do actually make mucus—“coral snot” is a thing—and the balance of different species of bacteria living in their mucus is very important, because it functions as an ad hoc immune system, keeping the coral healthy by keeping unfriendly bacteria at bay.

In a study appearing in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers at The Ohio State University and their colleagues have demonstrated how two separate effects of climate change combine to destabilize different populations of coral microbes—that is, unbalance the natural coral “microbiome”—opening the door for bad bacteria to overpopulate corals’ mucus and their bodies as a whole.

The goal of the study was to help guide conservation efforts in advance of the expected rise in ocean temperature and acidity by the end of this century, as forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

OSU Engineers Discover Clean Fossil Fuel Solution

Engineers at The Ohio State University are developing technologies that have the potential to economically convert fossil fuels and biomass into useful products including electricity without emitting carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

In the first of two papers published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, the engineers report that they’ve devised a process that transforms shale gas into products such as methanol and gasoline—all while consuming carbon dioxide. This process can also be applied to coal and biomass to produce useful products.

Under certain conditions, the technology consumes all the carbon dioxide it produces plus additional carbon dioxide from an outside source.

Finally, the same team has discovered and patented a way with the potential to lower the capital costs in producing a fuel gas called synthesis gas, or “syngas,” by about 50 percent over the traditional technology. The technology, known as chemical looping, uses metal oxide particles in high-pressure reactors to “burn” fossil fuels and biomass without the presence of oxygen in the air. The metal oxide provides the oxygen for the reaction.

Chemical looping is capable of acting as a stopgap technology that can provide clean electricity until renewable energies such as solar and wind become both widely available and affordable, the engineers said.

Another advancement involves the engineers’ development of chemical looping for production of syngas, which in turn provides the building blocks for a host of other useful products including ammonia, plastics or even carbon fibers.

This is where the technology really gets interesting: It provides a potential industrial use for carbon dioxide as a raw material for producing useful, everyday products.

Vet Care Accounts for Billions in Ohio’s Economy OSU Study Finds

Veterinary medicine contributes $13 billion annually in direct and supporting services to Ohio’s economy, according to a recent economic study. The findings are from a 2017 analysis by Regionomics, LLC, which researched veterinary medicine’s impact in economic activity and employment contributions to the Buckeye State.

The study, a collaborative effort between the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), found that veterinary services in Ohio contribute $2.4 billion in direct economic output while sustaining more than 23,000 jobs. Support of animal-related industries, including agricultural production, reflects an additional $10.6 billion in annual economic activity.

Veterinarians work in a variety of disciplines impacting economic growth and job creation beyond caring for companion animals. Areas not often considered as part of the veterinary field include food animal production, zoos, racetracks, health research, education and animal nutrition. The economic study not only reaffirmed the importance of veterinary medicine’s role in supporting the economic activity of these industries, but it also explored issues of veterinary geographic distribution, veterinary student loan debt and the contributions of the human-animal bond in mitigating human health care costs.