Lemont High School students visit Argonne for sustainable energy science tour

By Diana Anderson

Students from Lemont High School are working with Argonne National Laboratory to write the lab’s 2011 Summary Site Environmental Report. In preparation for this project, the students toured Argonne’s sustainable facilities and energy research labs on December 11.

Argonne Environmental Monitoring and Surveillance Manager Larry Moos provided a lesson on phytoremediation — the organic process of eliminating contaminants from shallow groundwater through the use of plants and trees.

“Since the students are writing Argonne’s Summary Site Environmental Report, we wanted them to see some of our facilities and operations first-hand so they can write a more informed report for the public,” said Moos. “They’re reading this long, difficult annual report, and their purpose is to write a summary that is easier to understand and digest.”

Larry Moos spoke with Lemont High School students about phytoremediation.

As part of the tour, Lemont students visited Argonne’s new 10 kW wind turbine. At 112 feet tall, it is considered to be small to medium height according to wind turbine standards. The commercial wind turbines that are often seen in the Chicagoland region along highways are about typically about 450 feet tall, to put it in perspective. Argonne’s wind turbine provides power to a nearby building, saving an estimated 10 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and Argonne scientists also use the turbine as a test bed for research on wind and power distribution in the Midwest region.

“The students were interested in more than just the mechanics of renewable energy technology,” said Sustainability Program Manager Devin Hodge. “They were also interested in how it has practical applications in their lives and the future of home construction.”

Lemont High School students toured Argonne's renewable energy infrastructure, including a 10 kW wind turbine.

The students also had an opportunity to tour Argonne’s transportation research area where Principal Project Engineering Specialist Glenn Keller gave the students some insight into trends that are going on right now in transportation. “Our country’s goal is to achieve sustainability in transportation,” said Keller. “Sustainability in this case means the types fuels we use. The goal is to reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum and in doing so, focus on alternative energy sources such as renewable fuels, natural gas and electricity. The new thinking is that we consider electricity as a transportation fuel.”

Glenn Keller spoke with students about transporation research.

“In terms of real world experience, the students will be published authors by the time they graduate from high school and that will look great on their college applications,” said Moos. “They’ll also get to collaborate with Argonne scientists, which is a unique opportunity for high school students.”

The students’ finalized summary report will be published and posted on Argonne’s GreenLab Initiative website.

Posted December 20, 2012