Vort Port International Partners with Students at the University of Michigan!

Unlike any other generation, today’s growing youth are passionate about bringing clean and sustainable energy ideas to fruition. In order to provide ideas to use this passion and interest in young students, The Sustainable and Alternative Energy Student Council (SAESC) was created at the University of Michigan.  SAESC was created by two Vort Port International members with a mission to empower students to create sustainable solutions for committees around the world and Vort Port International is now collaborating with them!

To give you a little more input into what we’re doing, Sustainable & Alternative Energy Student Council is a collaboration of students from different colleges within the University of Michigan working together to create sustainable and alternative energy solutions. The group is an “umbrella” organization, consisting of well-rounded individual project teams that critique and encourage each other, creating optimal results. Currently, there are three projects: Biodigester, Bamboo Bikes, and Pedal-Powered Energy.

The Biodigester team is a multidisciplinary group of U-M students that focuses most of their work on doing research and testings for the Vort Port International Biodigester Project. The team is committed to providing renewable methane energy to rural communities for cooking purposes, through anaerobic biodigestion. Madagascar is the pilot country for this project, as the country, home to one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. The use of wood for cooking has increased deforestation to a new high in Madagascar, at about 3% annually. With our biodigestion units, they aim to replace wood with methane for stove cooking, and overall decrease and discourage deforestation. Biodigestion uses a community of microorganisms to degrade organic waste into biogas (methane and carbon dioxide) and a nutrient-rich fertilizer slurry. Vort Port International and SAESC are aiming at implementing our first unit in 2012, with a long term goal expanding out of Madagascar.

The Bamboo Bike project is currently working on constructing initial prototypes for the Vort Port International project. Bamboo Bikes is dedicated to providing rural communities with bamboo bicycles, which aim to increase access of basic resources and healthier lifestyles.  Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants is also a strong frame alternative to metal bicycles. The project aims to improve the economy and welfare in regional communities by educating and training women, youth, health care services, and farmers the project aims on the local level to build and maintain these bicycles. Bikes will be provided to Ugandan’s at low costs due to subsidies provided by sales in the U.S. We plan on issuing 2000 bikes over a 5 year period to improve the transportation of goods and people thus improving quality of life for those in need.

The Pedal-Powered Energy Project is focusing more on encouraging the use of alternative energy on campu, as well as inspire students to think beyond traditional energy sources. The Pedal-Powered Team is planning a huge campus-wide event: a “pedal-powered” film festival  – an interactive, fun, and invigorating film festival powered by students riding a stationary  bicycle. The potential for energy acquired from pedal-power (bicycle power) is tremendous. The group will be building or modifying all components of the project, from the motors in treadmills, to the projector and audio system. Ultimately, this project will enhance research, education, and practice of sustainability for University students, staff, and faculty. It is a goal of the team to get others to consciously think about ways to use alternative energy and ways to create new sources of clean energy.

A generation of young students, ranging from experienced graduate students in engineering to curious freshmen who haven’t decided what they would like to major in, is volunteering their time and efforts at the University of Michigan to bring ideas to life! More updates on SAESC will be coming soon!

If you are interested in finding more about SAESC, you can contact Agneta at atenga@umich.edu.  Also, follow us at http://www.facebook.com/MichiganSAESC

This blog post was written by Agneta Venkatraman, a research lead of Vort Port International’s Biodigester Team. She currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan and attends the University of Michigan.

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