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ISyE’s Valerie Thomas and Team Win Judges’ Choice Award from MIT’S Climate CoLab

September 29, 2016

Suriya Arulselvan (MSCE 2015) and Valerie Thomas, a professor in Georgia Tech’s Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering (ISyE), have been awarded the Judges’ Choice Award for the 2016 Aviation contest from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Climate CoLab. They accepted the award and presented their research at the MIT Climate CoLab's Crowds & Climate Conference, September 28-29, 2016, on MIT’s campus.

The pair submitted their proposal, “Strategic Investment to Scale-up Aviation Biofuel,” to the Climate CoLab’s Aviation contest category. They proposed that one large country (the U.S., China, or Brazil) or coordinated region (e.g., the EU) intensely ramp up aviation biofuel production, along with associated coproducts such as diesel fuel, to a level of about 120 million tons of biomass by the year 2030. They specifically focused on the feasibility of China to contribute to this initiative.

Emphasizing technology development for aviation biofuel within a particular country would result in gaining expertise in the most efficient pathway. Plausible ways to develop a stable supply and demand for biofuel include the following:

  • Collaborating with neighboring countries to establish an efficient supply chain.
  • Working with suppliers and airlines that are taking initiatives to use biofuel.
  • A common fuel distribution system can be established in the airports of China, similar to the bioports implemented in Amsterdam, Holland and Oslo, Norway. This way all the operators flying into these airports will be refueled by biofuel.
  • With the European Union including the aviation industry in its emission trading system since 2012, a strategic alignment could be made between the EU and China to substantiate the investment.

Arulselvan and Thomas’s proposal was particularly commended by the contest judges for its potential impact to considerably reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

To learn more about the pair’s proposal, read here:

Watch a video about the pair’s work here:

About Valerie Thomas and Suriya Arulselvan

Suriya Arulselvan is a process modeling engineer at Aspen Technology in Bedford, MA. She has a Master of Science in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech, and a Bachelor of Technology in chemical engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchipappalli.

Valerie Thomas is the Anderson Interface Professor of Natural Systems in ISyE, with a joint appointment in the School of Public Policy. Her research interests are energy and materials efficiency, sustainability, industrial ecology, technology assessment, international security, and science and technology policy. Current research projects include the environmental impacts of biofuels and electricity system policy and planning.

About the Climate CoLab

The goal of the Climate CoLab is to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people from all around the world to address global climate change.

Inspired by systems like Wikipedia and Linux, the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence has developed this crowdsourcing platform where people work with experts and each other to create, analyze, and select detailed proposals for what to do about climate change.

By constructively engaging a broad range of scientists, policy makers, business people, investors, and concerned citizens, the hope is that the Climate CoLab will help to develop, and gain support for, climate change plans that are better than any that would have otherwise been developed.

Anyone can join the Climate CoLab community and participate. Community members are invited to submit and comment on proposals outlining ideas for what they think should be done about climate change. In some contests, members create proposals for specific kinds of actions such as generating electric power with fewer emissions or changing social attitudes about climate change. In other contests, members combine ideas from many other proposals to create integrated climate action plans for a country, a group of countries, or the whole world. Experts evaluate the entries and pick finalists, and then both experts and community members select the most promising proposals.

  • Valerie Thomas
    Valerie Thomas
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Georgia Tech Supply Chain and
Logistics Institute
H. Milton Stewart School of
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Atlanta, GA 30332
Phone: 404.894.2343