Four research projects received RENEW Institute funding in 2016/17.
RENEW Director Amit Goyal said these seed projects by interdisciplinary teams of UB investigators address exciting problems in urban infrastructure and groundwater, air-pollution, green-infrastructure and stormwater management, and development of lower-cost solar cells.
Urban growth is often accompanied by land subsidence resulting from settlement, building load and the increase pressure put on water resources to satisfy water demand. Land subsidence leads to fracturing of the ground and damage to infrastructure and, when taking place near rivers or coastal areas, it increases the occurrence of flooding. The goal of this project is to quantify the processes that create, influence and result from land subsidence, and develop a workflow to improve hazard mitigation plans and water resources management. Leaders of the project aim to achieve this by:
Research on the adverse effects of air pollution on human health and environment has benefited from monitoring stations that routinely collect data on air quality. However, monitoring networks are sparsely located and preferentially placed. Relying only on data from these fixed stations restricts study regions and leads to uncertainty in estimates of human exposure to air pollution. Leaders of this project propose a supplementary data collection strategy and a geospatial data fusion approach that will improve air quality estimates and increase their resolutions. To achieve this goal, leaders will:
Green infrastructure, such as rain barrels, permeable pavement and green streets, can help revitalize communities by reducing sewage overflows, beautifying neighborhoods, increasing property values and improving the health of nearby lakes and rivers. However, determining the proper green infrastructure investment to balance competing land uses is challenging. Leaders of this project will develop new tools for applying mathematical optimization to aid in stormwater management and green infrastructure planning.
They will also develop a decision support framework in which these tools can inform and be informed by a holistic stakeholder-driven collaborative planning process. As such, the framework will incorporate a variety of socio-political factors and tradeoffs that are not easily or traditionally incorporated into mathematical optimization. Leaders will demonstrate the framework and associated tools by applying them to a holistic suitability analysis for vacant land use in Buffalo, New York.
The use of perovskites as light-harvesting layers has become an important technology for low-cost solar cells that are capable of converting more than 20 percent of sunlight into electricity. The basis for such solar cells are the properties of lead-based hybrid perovskite layers, including very high absorption of solar light and great electrical properties. Unfortunately, as these products degrade, they create significant environmental concerns. This limits their potential for large-scale implementation. Therefore, researchers are working to develop lead-free metal halide perovskite materials and corresponding solar cell architectures to optimize their performance. Leaders of this program aim to achieve this by:
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