A Biofuels Challenge For Native Students

Not long ago, we reported on a group of First Nations students in Canada getting hands-on training in solar. Here in the U.S., the green trend with Native peoples continues, with an announcement [PDF] from the Bureau of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk that students attending attending high schools and tribal colleges funded by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) will have an opportunity to explore careers in the fields of green and renewable energy through the second installment of a biomass to diesel competition known as the Indian Education Renewable Energy Challenge.

During the first phase of the competition, each participating school and college will establish a team of students to create designs for converting biomass to diesel fuel using any raw biomass material they wish. In doing so, teams must indicate how their process design ensures safety in view of the flammable product, as well as the properties of any chemicals that may be used in production. The five high school and five college teams deemed to have the best submissions will receive $3,500 each to construct prototypes of their inventions.

BIE

image via Bureau of Indian Education

From there, the teams will provide performance data as well as detailed reports and videos of their prototypes in operation. Judges at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will then pick one top high school project and one college one, based on the quality of the diesel produced, the percent yield calculation for the process, generator fuel consumption versus output power, and a number of supporting documents.

The winners will see their projects prominently displayed in Washington, D.C., where they also will have the opportunity to meet with senior Interior Department officials and attend a reception in their honor. Design proposals for the Indian Education Renewable Energy Challenge must be submitted by November 30, 2010. More information is available online.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.