Projects & Research

Below is a sampling of student projects over the recent years that pertain to sustainability. For the full list of student projects please consult the WPI Student Research Database.

Energy Projects

Alternative Renewable Energy Resources, 2006

This project examined the energy usage by current human society and analyzed instances in which renewable energy could be applied. A comparison was made between the Northeast and West south Central Region of the United States. A renewable energy community was designed to provide a feasible and environmentally advantageous standard of living. The design integrates solar, biomass, and hydrogen technologies. The project also examines the impact such a community may have on the environment and global society.

Electric Power and Social Attitudes, 2005

This project seeks to examine the miscommunications that arise in discussions concerning electricity deregulation and its environmental impact due to the participants1 opposing discourses of environmental reality. Discourses dominant in the debate are analyzed, and interviews conducted with participants in the deregulation and environmental debate. The interview data is analyzed, with special emphasis on the different associational loads the concepts being debated must bear within each discourse. Recommendations are made on ways for participants to reach a mutually satisfactory consensus.

Energy Use in the US and Other Countries, 2005

This project is concerned with the problems and consequences of energy use and its impacts on economic well-being in the United States and various European countries. We gathered and analyzed energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and economic output data over the recent past using the common benchmarking method of Data Envelopment Analysis. We then ascertained the possibilities of reduction in both the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission without negative consequences upon the economic output.

Fuel Efficient and Environmentally Sound Autos, 2005

This project proposes a study into alternative fuel sources and also questions the educational level of the general public concerning hybrid technology. A thorough background investigation was done on the current state of alternative power sources for automobiles with a concentration on hybrid technology. This background information was used to develop a survey to evaluate and educate the public. The results of this survey concluded that people educated about hybrid technology have a greater desire to learn about it. More Information...

Renewable Energy Education, 2005

The purpose of this project was to educate on the subject of renewable energy. We conducted a detailed analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of the different education tools. The core achievements implemented by our group to achieve our goal was to design an interactive website to educate children. The MCAS standards were addressed throughout the website.

Alternative Renewable Energy Sources, 2004

This project considered the imminent depletion of the world's fossil fuel supply. Impacts of fossil fuel usage on the environment and humanity have been studied in depth. Alternative, environmentally friendly, sustainable energy sources, primarily wind and solar, were investigated as possible solutions. The economic and technical feasibility of implementing these sources and their potential impact on the energy market were researched. A system dynamic model was developed to simulate the relationships between the essential factors affecting the global energy market. More Information...

Alternative Vehicles, 2004

The purpose of this IQP is to research and discuss the various forms of alternative energy powered motor vehicles currently under development and to obtain information pertinent to automobile manufacturers via surveys to that will provide insight into the publics perceptions of such vehicles. This insight will aid in the development of a representation of how drivers are using their automobiles as well as a set of standards/criteria such alternative vehicles would have to meet in order to make them commercially viable. More Information...

Fuel Efficient Daytime Running Lights, 2004

In 2002 there were approximately 11 million vehicles involved in accidents in the United States. 90% of those vehicles (approximately 9.9 million) were passenger cars or light trucks. As the number of drivers on the roads increase there is an increase in the need to make driving conditions safer. Also in the past year gasoline prices have hit a 23 year high, so there has also been a growing interest in making automobiles more fuel efficient. In the name of safety Lobbyists for years have been trying to get Daytime Running Lights made mandatory on all passenger vehicles. This project examines the efficiency, usefulness, and economical impact of Daytime Running Lights. More Information...

An Energy Efficient Alternative to Daytime Running Lights, 1999

This project investigates the feasibility of Daytime Running Lights by examining the effectiveness of these devices by conducting research and analyzing the cost benefit relationships. Having made these suggestions, the project suggests alternative ways of achieving the effectiveness of the DRLs. One of the most energy-efficient alternatives was designated and built. The results showed that the alternate approach required the consumption of 559, 000 barrels of extra gasoline in the U.S. per year while the energy consumption rate of the most energy efficient DRL was determined to be 56, 000, 000 barrels of gasoline per year. More Information...

Wind Energy Assessment of Massachusetts Using Geographic Information System, 1999

This project is a pilot study for a full Massachusetts wind energy evaluation which uses IDRISI, a Geographic Information System (GIS) program, to create wind energy potential maps for Massachusetts. Also involved is an economic evaluation which will be continued by more students in the future using the project team's report and a similar methodology. The results obtained indicate that all areas having a Class 4 or above designation should be explored as possible windfarm sites and that this project has further potential for other groups in the future. More Information...

Cost Effective Energy Saving Home Renovations, 1998

Our project examines methods to increase the thermal energy efficiency of residential buildings by retrofitting them with various building materials. The thermal characteristics of these products were investigated to determine their effects on the energy improvements, while also displaying quality characteristics based upon aesthetics, safety, and environmental impacts among others.

Energy Saving Device Survey, 1998

This project illustrates the involvement of ethics in the marketing of an energy saving device. It provides an in-depth analysis of common marketing techniques used by the promoters and problems inherit in these techniques. The theory is supported by a detailed survey, which extracts the opinion and knowledge from a person targeted by the promoters. The results are presented in tables and charts and are accompanied by suggestions and recommendations to combat unethical actions taken by promoters. 

Energy Saving in the Home, 1998

This project was conducted to analyze the effects of new, high efficiency, compact fluorescent lighting (CFLs). Randomly selected utility customers were interviewed and their use of CFLs monitored to measure actual energy savings. Utility efficient lighting programs were examined in depth to determine whether or not efficient lighting programs are economically feasible for both the consumer and the utilities. 

Electricity Monitoring on the WPI Campus

This report, prepared for the Plant Services Department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, evaluates the present status of WPI's electricity monitoring system, on a building-by-building basis. It includes a comprehensive report of the electricity meter functionality for several dormitories and academic buildings. Also, it presents a short and long-term plan to improve the school's ability to monitor its electricity consumption. More Information...

Energy Efficiency in Water Infrastructure

The purpose of this project is to increase the energy efficiency of water infrastructure in Puerto Rico. This report contains technical and financial feasibility data regarding renewable energy systems and pipeline maintenance procedures. This data is followed by recommendations of cost-effective and environmentally-safe systems as well as maintenance procedures to be implemented. The report concludes with the social implications that will follow this implementation. The project team prepared this information for the Architecture and Engineering firm CSA Group, Inc., which will allow this company to promote energy-efficient practices to their clients through a brochure that the team provided at the conclusion of the project. More Information...

Improving Electrical System Management for Boylston, MA

This project was intended to assist the Boylston Municipal Light Department in modernizing their management and record keeping processes. After compiling information about the town's electric infrastructure, our project group developed a sustainable computerized system that allows for efficient record-keeping and information updating practices for the electric infrastructure. Furthermore, we made strong recommendations about how to better organize and execute daily maintenance tasks in a more proficient manner. More Information...

Sustainable Energy Sources for Rural Ghana

This project investigated renewable energy sources for Mr. Kofi Amoafo, a machine shop owner from Ghana, West Africa, who now works in England because high diesel prices in Ghana made his business unprofitable. In addition to a system recommendation, this project created tools to assist in the identification and implementation of compatible renewable energy systems in Ghana. These tools included a questionnaire and flow chart to identify energy options and a database of NGOs in Ghana, to identify possible project sponsors. More Information...

US Energy Goals and Policy: A Critical Look at Existing Energy and Sustainable Energy for the Future

The project developed a viable, comprehensive, energy plan for the United States with the intent to drastically reduce the dependence on foreign oil over the next 20 years. To this end a pragmatic and comprehensive evaluation of various energy technologies was made. The intent is to encourage widespread adoption of solar and wind energy technologies in the US before there is an energy crisis as transition after that point becomes problematic. More Information...

Wind Power Suitability in Worcester, Massachusetts

The goal of this project was to identify criteria needed to determine the suitability of potential wind turbine sites in Worcester, Massachusetts. The report first discusses physical, environmental, economic, and social factors that affect the suitability of potential wind power sites. We then completed a case study for a site in downtown Worcester, directly applying the criteria. Our hope is the project will raise local awareness of renewable energy and illustrate the practicality of a clean energy project. More Information...

Greenhouse Gases Projects

Air Pollution in Asia, 2006

Air pollution is a major factor that creates bad influence to human health and cause respiration disease. This project will introduce air pollution in general point of view, describe the cause pollutants, human effects, and explain critical environmental effect in present time. For further information on air pollution, the air pollution index will introduce the pollu6tant criteria and the air quality detector, monitoring system. In order to provide best suggested methods for preventing air pollution issue, this project compares all technical solutions and government policies published by Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan; so the result will be best suitable and efficient for other Asian Countries.

Alternate Energy Sources for the Futute, 2005

This project examines the renewable alternatives of fossil fuels in view of their projected depletion. We concentrated on nuclear energy and examined its potential dangers and ways to improve its safety. Special attention was paid to protection from terrorist attacks, storage and disposal of byproduct. We conclude that nuclear energy is a viable energy source to replace fossil fuels in the near future. More Information...

Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Their Impacts, 2005

The objective of this project was to research global warming and its impact on the earth and society. We focused on the impacts of fossil fuels and the resulting increase of carbon dioxide emissions. The global climate models we used demonstrated a large increase in carbon dioxide concentrations due to anthropogenic sources. To mitigate the adverse effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere we considered geosequestration, metabolites and enzyme for plants and addition of carbonate ions into oceanic sinks.

Green Production, Eco-Marketing and Sustainable P, 2005

This document focuses on the interplay between ecological production, "green" consumption and the policies that shape and promote these practices. Our two-part primary data collection entailed a survey of known "green consumers" and a following media design experiment that offered insight to framing and representation of organic food. These data contribute to an understanding of the market behaviors that currently pose a challenge to "sustainable" ideals that aim to minimize stress on the biosphere and facilitate proper long-term resource management. More Information...

Hybird Cars as a way to a Cleaner Environment, 2005

This project focused on gasoline-electric hybrid cars. In order to gain the public perception, we conducted a survey to focus on acceptable differences. Issues such as the trade off between acceleration and improved mileage were examined. In addition, the subject of incentives was considered as a way to increase the acceptance of hybrid technology. More Information... Hybrid Vehicle Emissions Analysis, 2002 The object of this analysis of hybrid vehicles is to determine what ecological impact they will have when introduced into Worcester, MA vehicle population. The ability to reduce a vast amount of pollution created each year is valuable by any means possible, and the hybrid vehicle may be one solution. An internal combustion powered vehicle pollutes seven times more than a hybrid gas-electric vehicle. To totally replace all of the vehicles on the road in Worcester with hybrids would reduce the pollution to 16 percent of its current amount: only 1, 000 tons of airborn pollution compared to the current 6,250 tons. The best solution at this point is most likely a "phasing in" of new hybrid technology.

Hybrid Vehicles and Gasoline Savings, 2005

The United States consumes approximately one fourth of the world's oil, with a large portion used as gasoline in passenger vehicles. Burning gasoline is costly and creates serious environmental problems. When we estimate 25% of total vehicles in use will be hybrid vehicles by the year 2015, we can reduce the amount of gasoline burned by 12% and an educated estimate of saving just under 30,000 tons per year of nitrous-oxide emissions in California alone. More Information...

Alternative Energy Bio-hydrogen and Bio-diesel, 2004

Two alternative energy sources, bio-diesel derived from algae and bio-hydrogen produced by a dark fermentation process, were found to be possibly viable for widespread use in the near future. With more research, they could be integrated into our energy infrastructure to lessen reliance on foreign oil as well as other fossil fuels. Current technologies and feasibilities are summarized and some recommendations are presented. More Information...

Cost Modeling of Fuel Cells, 2003

This IQP verified that a Process Based Cost Model could be effectively utilized to predict the cost of manufacturing fuel cells using available production data. The report shows that a one kilowatt fuel cell stack can be manufactured at a cost between $80 and $120. The report also shows that the cost model is sensitive to changes in material cost, production volume, and material thickness. Reduction in Fuel cell manufacturing costs will be dependent on reducing material costs. More Information...

Automotive Waste, 2002

This project addresses the environmental and economic impact of automotive waste, namely coolant, oil, tires, and refrigerant. It also outlines the recycling possibilities and legal ramifications of the disposal of such pollutants. This report served as the basis for a web page that covered the above topic. Finally a survey was conducted to evaluate the effect of the web page on high school students. More Information...

Biodiesel and Alternative Fueling, 2002

A summary of alternative fueling is discussed. Most emphasis is put upon marine diesel engines and biodiesel. Biodiesel is the best alternative available for diesel fuel replacement. With no engine modification for biodiesel use, changing to alternative fuel is easy enough to become widespread throughout society. Biodiesel is the least expensive and harmful of any of the alternatives, and can help to create a cleaner environment More Information...

Global Warming and Ozone Depletion The Global Implications, 2002

This project explored global warming due to greenhouse gases and ozone depletion due to CFC. The impact of these effects on society have been studied and some policy recommendations were made. More Information... Global Warming and the American Desert The project examines the effects of global warming and other trends on the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin, as well as how those changes will affect the rest of the United States.

Hybrid Cars Fuel Economy, 2002

With the increase in vehicle population in the United States over past decades, there has become a growing concern on the impact to our environment. Through the use of hybrid cars it is possible to greatly reduce the gasoline consumption in Massachusetts and the nation. This technology can have such an impact that by replacing 73.1 percent of the current vehicle population in the United States, with the Toyota Prius, the importation of oil from non-OPEC nations is unnecessary. More Information...

Atmospheric Pollution in Athens, Greece, 1998

Pollution has been a major problem to the city of Athens. In this project, we had two goals first to give information on how pollution created by cars and airplanes affected the ancient ruins, and the people of the city of Athens, and second to examine three major infrastructure works and how they are going to affect the amount of pollution created by the emissions of those two sources. It was found that after these major works are completed, the amount of pollution in the Attica basin will be significantly reduced. 

Clean Air Vehicles, 1998

The history of the development of Electric Vehicle is presented. Present day EV technology is examined and compared to gas-powered vehicle performance. Feasibility of EV's widespread introduction into society is investigated. Obstacles are discussed and recommendations are made for a successful campaign. 

Green House Effects Concentrate on Ozone Depletion, 1998

This project studied the impact of ozone depletion on human health and aquatic and terrestial ecosystems. To study the possible evolution of this phenomena a model was derived to simulate the concentration of ozone in the stratosphere as a function of latitude. In view of these studies we were able to make some policy recommendations to mitigate the impact of ozone depletion on mother earth.

Atmospheric Modeling of Carbon Dioxide

The project considered the energy balance of the earth and the impact of trace gases on this balance. This issue was investigated through the use of a seven reservoir model of the earth's ecosystem. Simulations based on actual carbon dioxide data were used to predict the concentration of this gas in the lower atmosphere and its impact on Human society. Various strategies to increase the intake of this gas by plants and other "sinks" were considered.

An Evaluation of the Recycling Practices on the Island of Puerto Rico

The focus of this report, prepared for FirstBank of Puerto Rico, is on the current waste management issues of Puerto Rico and the impact of recycling. The goal of this project was to analyze current recycling programs through interviews and recommend changes that will help create a more successful recycling program. From the interviews we concluded that recycling programs in Puerto Rico need to be better developed in the way they are coordinated, managed, and implemented. This paper discusses recommendations for improvement of the recycling system for municipalities, state government and Puerto Rican citizens. This project could greatly impact the majority of the population of Puerto Rico; if these recommendations were put into effect the recycling rates in Puerto Rico could be improved. More Information...

Carbon Reduction Tools for Municipal Buildings

 In an effort to reduce carbon emissions in the UK, the London Borough of Merton began work with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) researching carbon reduction methods. This project furthers this general goal by developing a replicable model which municipalities can use to map out energy usage of their buildings; as well as constructing a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) financial feasibility toolkit to help municipalities plan and implement District Heat and Power using CHPs.   

Better Waste Management Practices for ESPH

Empresa de Servicios Publicos de Heredia (ESPH) is a utilities company located in Heredia, Costa Rica that supplies potable water, electricity, and public lighting to the citizens of Heredia. As a byproduct of the services ESPH provides, hazardous wastes stored in ESPH's three warehouse facilities have built up to the point where they adversely effect the environment. Once onsite in Costa Rica, we selected two of these hazardous wastes, Polychlorinated Biphenyl containing electrical transformers and mercury-containing HID lamps. Our goal in this project was to offer solutions for better handling and storage for these wastes as well as to compile feasible options for disposal. More Information...

Bio-Diesel and the Public Transportation System of San Jos

This report, prepared for the National Cleaner Production Centers (CNP+L) of San Jose, Costa Rica assessed the feasibility of using bio-diesel or bio-diesel blends in public transportation buses. There were three primary questions that this report addressed. First, what is the fuel efficiency of bio-diesel compared to diesel in public transit buses? Second, what is the cost difference for the use of bio-diesel versus diesel in the public transit sector of San Jose? Finally, what impact will bio-diesel have on the economy, environment, and society and how are these impacts interrelated? Our findings were used to assist CNP+L in making policy decisions regarding bio-diesel use in the public transportation system of San Jose. More Information...

Composting for Sustainable Waste Management

This report, prepared for McNeil Consumer Healthcare of Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, explored options to reduce their landfill waste volume and raise community awareness of waste-related environmental concerns through composting. The following document addresses the necessary background, research methods, findings, and recommendations. Through classroom presentations, physical composting, and investigation of composting systems, we initiated community interaction and established the best future options for McNeil. Through education and setting a positive example, this project aims to promote sustainable waste management. More Information...  

Tracking and Reducing Greenhouse Gases at WPI

This report, as conducted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, explored the carbon emissions directly produced as a result of on-campus activities. The purpose the inventory is to evaluate the current status at WPI and evaluate several possible options to reduce these emissions. This report will address the necessary background, methods, results, analysis and recommendations. With this report we hope to establish a precedent for yearly inventories aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions at WPI.

Improving Waste Management In Costa Rica's Uruca River basin

This project, prepared for the Ministerio del Ambiente y Energia (MINAE) in San Jose, Costa Rica, examined methods to monitor industrial waste management practices while raising community knowledge about cleaner production. The following report describes our development of an online questionnaire, a waste estimation model and a brochure encouraging proper waste management within commercial centers. Through the use of technology, our project aims to enhance MINAE's ability to monitor the waste generation and disposal techniques of Costa Rican businesses. More Information...

Investigating and Promoting Extensively Natured, Green Urban Rooftops in Puerto Rico

This report, prepared for the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, investigated the feasibility and desirability of utilizing vegetated (green) roofs in the tropical climate of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Feasibility was assessed through experiments on the performance of various plants and soils and development of a temperature sensor network to collect data for a heat transfer model. Desirability was assessed through interviews with employees in targeted industries. Green roofs were found to yield substantial benefits at both the economic and environmental level. 

Mapping and Evaluating Carbon Dioxide Reduction in Merton

In effort to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, the London Borough of Merton hopes to identify all municipal activities that directly create or indirectly affect CO2 emissions, and map these activities to the departments responsible for them. This project assists that goal by initializing the identification process, creating a database framework to house the list of potential reduction measures for each activity, and developing methods for rating each measure's implementation and financial feasibility. 

Recycling and Composting at WPI

Contemporary interest in potential benefits of extensive recycling programs has sparked interest in WPI community members. The investigation of attitudes, financial information, and social benefits of an expanded recycling program provides a starting point for future efforts. This required speaking to members of WPFs community, resource handlers, and other connected individuals. Information was also obtained from additional resources to provide background and supporting information. This information was combined and evaluated to produce potential implementation plans for expanding WPI's recycling program. More Information...

Recycling and Solid Waste Management in Montes de Oca, San Jose, Costa Rica

While working with Dr. Arrieta from the School of Chemistry, at the University of Costa Rica in San Jose, we researched previous recycling programs in Costa Rica, surveyed residents of the area, conducted interviews with community officials in Montes de Oca, and began a pilot recycling program in this community. This project established possible reasons for previous programs' successes and failures, provided a socioeconomic breakdown of community opinion towards solid waste disposal and recycling, and provided suggestions for best practices in recycling. More Information...

Waste Management on Dairy Farms in Costa Rica

This report, prepared for the Empresa de Servicios Publicos de Heredia (ESPH), investigates methods to prevent pollution of water caused by wastewater discharge of dairy farms in Costa Rica. The report describes how to determine the farming qualities necessary to implement clean technologies, including polyethylene anaerobic digesters and best management practices. More Information...

Waste Projects


Distributed generation and green power are becoming important topics as world's supplies of coal and oil diminish. Many firms today use various software decision tools to help them analyze the possibility of getting distributed/green power facilities on site. This project looked at and analyzed the available software, evaluating strength and weaknesses of the available packages and applets. The project was mainly concerned in comparison between Internet-based and Excel-based tools and looked specifically at the open-source software. More Information...

Water Projects

Green Engineering, 2003

Concerns over the growing issues of global warming, fossil fuel reduction, recycling, and toxic waste reduction have led to an increasing need to become a green society. Although some organizations are focusing resources on these environmental concerns, the majority of our top engineering universities are not educating future engineers on green alternatives. Therefore, the task was to create a graduate/undergraduate level course syllabus in Green Engineering. More Information...

Sustainable Development at the San Cristobal Canyon

The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico has requested the assistance of the students of Worcester Polytechnic Institute to create a planning document for the sustainable development of the San Crist243bal Canyon in Aibonito and Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. This process included determining the impact of making the canyon a biosphere reserve as well as the proper means to make the proposed trails safe and accessible to as many people as possible. At the completion of this project, we have provided sufficient information to recommend the establishment of a biosphere reserve in the canyon area as well as the development of a trail system. With all of this information, the Trust should be able to achieve sustainability in the development of the San Crist243bal Canyon. More Information...

Technically Green An Environmental Resource Website (WPI Related)

Our project was to develop proposals for a formal environmental policy, committee, and annual report for the WPI administration to consider. Unlike many universities, WPI currently does not have a visible position on environmental sustainability. We came to our proposals by researching the processes and final products of other universities and institutions. They, along with developmental resources, are presented on a website (Located at as of 3/6/07). Comments on the development of the proposals are presented in the paper. More Information...

Water Meter Replacement Evaluation

The Puerto Rican Water and Sewer Authority (PRASA) is losing money because of failing water meters and under-billing. The goal of our project was to help PRASA by recommending an efficient replacement plan. To do this we performed a customer survey to determine their satisfaction with the authority. We also interviewed the directors of Customer Service to gain knowledge of the replacement effort and its problems. Replacement plans from around the world were compared to Puerto Rico's to determine where Puerto Rico ranks. Finally, we performed a cost benefit analysis on metering systems using new reading technology. We made recommendations on new meter technology, as well as ways to improve the efficiency of the meter replacement plan, enabling the replacement of 200,000 meters a year. 



  • Email a Friend
  • Bookmark this Page
  • Share this Page