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Latest HNEI News

Bioplastic Material Developed by HNEI Hits the Market

The Miss Sissi lamp   (Photo:Business Wire)

HNEI’s Associate Researcher, Jian Yu, PhD, has developed a process for producing environmentally friendly bioplastic (PHA polymer) from organic residues of food processing and biofuel production.  This patented process has been licensed to Bio-on (an Italian company).  Now, the world’s first product made with this biopolymer has been presented onto the commercial market.  This product is the Miss Sissi lamp designed by Philippe Stark for the Italian company, Flos, and now presented by Bio-on in an innovative, completely biodegradable material to replace polycarbonate.  

Bio-on  has chosen to work with Techint Engineering & Construction to build plants for production of the PHA bioplastic using waste materials from sugar beet and cane processing.  The first plant will produce 10 thousand tons per year of this bioplastic.  Download the press release.  The HNEI contact for this project is Jian Yu.

HNEI is conducting energy efficiency research at Ilima Intermediate School

Project Frog classroom at Ilima Intermediate School.   Credit: Priscilla Thompson (HNEI) & Hawaii DOE.

A new Project Frog classroom for teaching students and scientists
Contact:  A. James Maskrey, (808) 956-3645  Assistant Specialist, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute
Students at Ilima Intermediate School in Ewa Beach, Oʻahu will have the unique opportunity to learn in a classroom that is itself a learning platform.  A 1,200-square-foot, state-of-the-art structure has been installed at the school, the first of three sites selected for energy research that will test the effectiveness of innovative energy efficient buildings powered by renewable energy. The Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is leading the research study which will analyze the performance of these energy systems for potential future Navy applications in the Pacific region.
“We're delighted to participate in and be the beneficiary of this innovative project,” said Assistant Superintendent Randy Moore of the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Education. “It will excite our students and staff on the campus to know they are a part of leading edge research and development work into creating environments that support student learning and are friendly to the planet.”
The pre-engineered test platform, created by California-based Project Frog, Inc., incorporates passive design elements to decrease energy demand, thus increasing the effectiveness of its photovoltaic systems.  The structure will be outfitted with high-tech energy monitoring instruments providing valuable research data on the performance of design and material components.
Project Frog’s design provides air quality management and thermal comfort through the use of natural convection and air displacement to reduce the requirements for mechanized systems. Optimized daylighting and glare reduction provides high quality illumination for over 95 percent of daylight hours, keeping the electrical lights off during most of the school year.  The design reduces energy consumption, construction waste and operating expense, while providing spaces that are adaptable for a variety of uses.
"We are excited to play such an integral role in HNEI's research and together advance the science and technology behind all new construction throughout the Islands," said Nikki Tankursley, director of marketing for Project Frog.
“Frog buildings are very responsive to the Hawaiian climate,” according to Tankursley. “With a small rooftop photovoltaic array, the classroom at Ilima Intermediate School produces more energy than it consumes.”
At Ilima Intermediate School, HNEI will also compare the performance of two different photovoltaic systems, one using a high efficiency crystalline technology, and the other using a newer thin film technology.
“This important assignment is part of a larger research program to evaluate energy technologies for the Office of Naval Research that includes a range of efficiency, storage, and renewable generation systems,” said Dr. Richard Rocheleau, HNEI Director.
The Office of Naval Research is providing funding for the project through a grant to the University of Hawai'i. Projects that support the Department of Navy's energy programs to demonstrate technologies that enable increased implementation of alternative energy sources and promote energy security are made possible by the efforts of U.S. Senator Inouye, Senate Appropriations chairman, to ensure that the Department of Defense has adequate resources to make these critical, cutting-edge investments in energy technology.
Project partners include the State of Hawai'i Department of Education, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa – Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute, and Project Frog, Inc.

International Workshop on Methane Hydrate Research & Development in Japan, May 28th

The 8th International Workshop on Methane Hydrate Research & Development was held in Sapporo, Japan on 28 May - 1 June 2012, ( HNEI organized the first workshop in Honolulu in 2000 and has been a sponsor and member of the International Steering Committees of all subsequent workshops. The HNEI contact is Stephen Masutani.

HNEI Researcher Leads $1 million Sustainability Project

Michael J. Cooney, Associate Researcher at HNEI, is leader for a cross campus collaborative team that won the recent $1 million University-wide Sustainability competition with a project aimed at developing and placing water, energy, and soil sustainability technologies in local industry. This will be a two-year effort involving faculty from HNEI, CTHAR, Shidler College of Business, Oceanography, and local companies such as Pacific Biodiesel and RealGreen Power.

Read more in the University of Hawaii news story.  HNEI's contact for this project is Michael Cooney.

Oahu Wind Integration Study Released

In partnership with the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and General Electric Company, HNEI studied the impacts to the HECO grid of integrating 400 MW of wind power from Molokai and Lanai supplied through an undersea cable combined with 100 MW of wind and 100 MW of solar power located on Oahu.  The study showed HECO can reliably integrate this power and supply 25% of Oahu’s electricity from these sources if several recommendations for upgrades to the HECO grid and requirements for the wind projects are followed.The electricity supplied from these sources would reduce Hawaii’s fossil fuel consumption by approximately 2.8 million barrels of low sulfur fuel oil and 132,000 tons of coal each year. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) organized a technical review committee of U.S. and world experts in large-scale integration of wind power that met throughout the study to provide technical expertise and review of results.See the O‘ahu Wind Integration Study for the full report.


Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC)

The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) has created a Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC), having recently won 5 years of funding from the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Office of the US Department of Energy (DOE).  Activites in this center focus on developing and evaluating marine resources and technologies to harness the energy from waves and from ocean thermal temperature gradients. The website for this center can be accessed at The HNEI contact is Luis A. Vega.

Hawaii Bioenergy Master Plan Project Final Report - Available Online

The Hawaii Bioenergy Master Plan Project Final Report, prepared by HNEI for the State of Hawaii under contract to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, has been completed. The project was established under Act 253, SLH 2007. The Final Report is available at the project website.

Flash Carbonization™ Produces Clean Charcoal

Flash Carbonization™ tests of Honolulu’s sewage sludge are being sponsored at HNEI to help eliminate smoke emissions from the Flash Carbonization™ Demonstration Reactor, reduce CO emissions to satisfy regulations, and produce clean charcoal for various markets. Read more about Biocarbons (charcoal). Contact Michael Antal for more information.


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