Solar demonstration, seminar part of ECU’s Pollution Prevention Week

East Carolina University is marking Pollution Prevention Week with a number of activities on campus.

“This is a national week, and we are one of many universities celebrating,” said Dr. Tarek Abdel-Salam, director of ECU’s Center for Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering as well as an engineering professor and associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and Technology.

The center spearheaded campus activities that included a solar power demonstration outside the Science and Technology Building. Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala, associate professor in the Department of Technology Systems, displayed a solar panel and used it to operate a small motor.

“Solar is a great tool,” he said, adding that North Carolina ranks behind only California in solar energy capacity in the country. “That is something to be proud of,” he said.

Agarwala said that the sun is the greatest source of energy on the earth, so it just makes sense to use it. And he noted that solar technology continues to improve with the addition of lightweight solar film and panels that can last up to 30 years.

As students gathered, Agarwala told them that solar energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as the need to build power plants.

“To build any new infrastructure, a lot of things go into that. That’s a problem,” he said. “Solar is mobile, and it can go into existing structures, leveraging what we already have. You can put it on a roof or attach it to a building. They put it on a river and tethered it, so you have floating solar panels.”

Agarwala said solar’s drawback is there isn’t enough produced to power everything that’s needed, especially during peak usage times, so it’s just one part of an energy solution.

“You have to have balance,” he said.

Randy Weddle, an engineering graduate student with a concentration in mechanical engineering, said he had heard of Pollution Prevention Week but had never been a part of it.

“This is a really cool thing to me,” he said of the solar power demonstration.

Weddle said he knows students can’t afford to buy solar panels for their homes or apartments but said common-sense solutions are available to help students save energy and prevent pollution.

“During the winter, keep your temperature as low as you can, and vice versa in the summer, have it as hot as you can comfortably keep it at,” he said. “And recycling, it’s just something basic that anybody can do. I think that can help reduce our carbon footprint.”

Along with the solar power demonstration, the Center for Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering also hosted a showing of the movie “Dark Waters,” which chronicles an environmental lawsuit against DuPont. A pollution prevention seminar is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. Thursday in room C-209 of the Science and Technology Building, and the week concludes with an internship information session from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday along the walkway of the Main Campus Student Center.