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Sustainability grants to explore burning powdered wood, developing cheaper solar cells and more

Assessing how green energy projects could impact rural communities, developing an efficient and clean method to burn powdered wood and creating low-cost, low-energy solar cells using grasslike silicon nanowires are three of five projects that the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF) will fund this year to stimulate original and cross-disciplinary work in sustainability science.

The CCSF, founded in 2007, awarded more than $500,000 May 19 in the second year of its Academic Venture Fund competition. These projects were selected for their ability to foster interdisciplinary sustainability innovation at Cornell and their potential to involve external partners in industry, government, foundations and nongovernmental organizations.

"The interdisciplinary nature of these proposals was impressive," said Frank DiSalvo, the J.A. Newman Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and CCSF director. "Ninety percent of the proposals were cross-departmental, and over three-quarters of the submissions included investigators from more than one college or school at Cornell. It was very difficult to winnow the 26 proposals that were submitted this year down to the five projects we selected."

The five research projects are:

The research projects are intended to demonstrate proof of principle, provide insights and tools for addressing needs or establishing new and innovative ideas and approaches to specific sustainability problems.

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Blaine Friedlander