Going with the flow

January 19, 2012 5:43 AM

Arthur Nead

The visionary RiverSphere project of Tulane University moves closer to realization with the receipt of a $150,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority on Jan. 12. Delta Regional Authority co-chair Chris Masingill and Congressman Cedric Richmond announced the federal grant on the Mississippi riverfront adjacent to the wharf that will be the project’s home.


Doug Meffert, director of the RiverSphere Center of Excellence for Sustainable Energy Systems, says the facility will be the first to explore rivers worldwide as sources of renewable energy. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)

“For Tulane, this investment represents an opportunity to be part of the green jobs creation movement in New Orleans, particularly centered around water resource management,” says Doug Meffert, director of the RiverSphere Center of Excellence for Sustainable Energy Systems. “This facility will be the first combined research and development and business incubation facility for emerging technologies that explore rivers worldwide as sources of renewable energy.”

One such technology slated to be developed and tested at RiverSphere will be the use of turbines submerged in the river that take advantage of the Mississippi’s unceasing and powerful current to generate electricity.

RiverSphere earlier received a $3 million grant from the Economic Development Administration, as well as a $1.5 million donation from the Aron Foundation.

“With these grants we can finalize our programming and construction documents, and then start renovating our wharf, which is the foundation of our structure,” says Meffert, adjunct associate professor with Tulane University Law School’s Payson Center for International Development. “We will continue to raise money to build the facility, including laboratories, classrooms, conference areas and a public exhibit focusing on water resources and renewable energy. I hope we can initiate the wharf improvements in just a few months.”

The Delta Regional Authority is congressionally mandated to identify and provide investment to help grow the small business and entrepreneurial community in the 252 counties and parishes in the Mississippi River Delta region.


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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000