UTSA engineering researchers receive $290K from USDA to study clean energy

Kristel Castillo

UTSA researcher Krystel Castillo

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(Oct. 30, 2014) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a four-year, $290,000 grant to Assistant Professor Krystel Castillo, Ph.D., Sc.D., in The University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Mechanical Engineering to support the Water Treatment, Agricultural-logistics and Renewable Energy (WeARE) systems project.

The project will establish a multidisciplinary platform to investigate new mathematical models, methods and optimization techniques applied to agricultural and biomass logistics, renewable bioenergy integration, production and technology, and water resources systems.

"I am particularly delighted that our project team will help students acquire knowledge to model, innovate and optimize agricultural supply chains, renewable bioenergy and water resources systems to meet the full range of human needs in a sustainable way," said Castillo, who will serve as the project's principal investigator.

According to Castillo, energy and water are intimately linked and have a vital role in the future of Texas and our nation.

"San Antonio is uniquely positioned as an emerging energy leader," she said. "To this end, the WeARE team will develop new courses and technical workshops to build the theoretical foundation in WeARE systems, partner with USDA agencies, and train and conduct outreach activities to nurture next-generation sustainable/green scientists and engineers."

The WeAre project team will include Castillo, UTSA Professor Frank Chen (mechanical engineering); UTSA Associate Professor Heather Shipley (civil and environmental engineering), and UTSA Assistant Professor Marcio Giacomoni (civil and environmental engineering).

"This interdisciplinary faculty team, with the support of the USDA, will develop the knowledge base, training, mentorship, outreach and partnership initiatives needed to support the professional development of our rising leaders here in the college," said JoAnn Browning, dean of the UTSA College of Engineering. "These researchers will positively impact society by enhancing the use of clean energy to support our nation's energy independence and security."

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Learn more about the research at the UTSA WeAre website and the UTSA College of Engineering website.

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