The Environmental Studies and Sciences (ENVS) department at Ithaca College has received support for its interdisciplinary experiential learning program. Specifically, for the students of our Non-Timber Forest Products (or NTFP) program to explore the use of different technologies to reduce the energy intensity of maple syrup production. Maple syrup production is economically and culturally important in upstate New York and represents a commercial activity that does not require harvesting of trees.
Over the course of one year, a team of students will work with ENVS and School of Business faculty members to 1) develop a reverse-osmosis (RO) system to reduce the water content of sap; 2) build a solar-photovoltaic battery system to power the RO; 3) construct a wood-gasification boiler to finish the sap; and 4) create an economic model for the operation. The systems will be demonstrated to the public through our annual open house and be presented to the community in a variety of venues. The class will post its progress and results on the NTFP website and coordinate with the Cornell Sugar Maple Program to transfer all results and technology. Once established, the system will serve as a long-term learning lab for the institution and the region.