The study—led by affiliate researchers in the UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management—creates a new, combined process to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, produce food and electricity, and reduce deforestation.

Algae cells under microscope.
Microalgae – Nannochloropsis sp. Photo credit: CSIRO.

Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, in affiliation with Duke and Cornell universities, have co-authored a study that suggests making croplands more efficient through algae production could unlock an important negative emission technology to combat climate change.

Bruce Mathews
Bruce Mathews

The research, “Integrating Algae with Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (ABECCS) Increases Sustainability,” is funded by a U.S. Department of Energy award and was recently published in the journal Earth’s Future. This funding is a Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC) grant for which Bruce Mathews, dean of the UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM), serves as the facilitating principal investigator at UH Hilo. Duke University subcontracted the overall project out to multiple institutions, including UH Hilo.

Students reps come from all 10 campuses of the UH System, and each will be coordinating local action projects on their home island. Alexis Stubbs represents UH Hilo.

Group of students in line for photo.
Representatives from each UH Campus with UH Chair of sustainability, Matt Lynch. (l-r) Matt Lynch (O‘ahu) , Elia Bruno (O‘ahu) , Alexis Stubbs (Hawai‘i Island), Jessica Sevilla (O‘ahu) , Keola Larson (Kaua‘i), and Josh Fukumoto (O‘ahu).

Last month held opportunity for a student sustainability representative from each University of Hawai‘i campus (10 campuses, six islands) to join and collaborate on student sustainability driven initiatives in preparation for the upcoming World Youth Congress (WYC) to be held in Hawai‘i this coming summer.

The UH Hilo representative is Alexis Stubbs, a sophomore specializing in tropical horticulture at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management.

To prepare for next year’s congress, a three-day retreat was held Nov. 11-13 at Camp Pālehua in Kapolei, O‘ahu. The retreat was titled Aha Ho‘owaiwai (A Whole Community Approach to Wellness) and aimed to reflect the strength of coming together, sharing and caring as a community all in preparation of the Makahiki season. Community from the entire Hawaiian archipelago were present.

Arizona State University is a potential partner for UH Hilo in developing energy science curriculum.

By Philippe Binder, Professor of Physics.

Philippe Binder
Philippe Binder

“Sustainability” is a property of social and biological systems that can remain active and functioning for long periods of time without depleting their resources or causing damage to their surroundings.

This concept has become more widely recognized in recent times. A big landmark was The Limits to Growth, a report on simulations of global population, environment and resources from the early 1970s showing a serious collapse of human population and standard of living, unless measures like a reduction in fertility rate and better care of the environment were adopted.

In the late 1980s, Our Common Future (also known as the Brundtland Report, produced by the United Nations) discussed development and environment as closely related issues, and presented a blueprint for sustainable development.