A solar array panel at Oregon State University.

Oregon State University continues to commemorate its 150th anniversary with a festival that includes free events in April centered around the university’s research on alternative energy.

The OSU150 Sun Grant Festival, which will be held from April 9 to 20, will include tours of a biogas facility and solar array, talks from scientists about biofuels and solar thermal power, and even an art exhibit focused on energy and the planet.

“Oregon State has a long tradition of environmental leadership in the state of Oregon and beyond,” said Steve Clark, vice president for university relations and marketing. “This festival showcases research into alternative energy that can reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels while energizing rural economies, including those in Oregon.”

This is the third of four festivals that recognize Oregon State as one of only two universities in the U.S. with land, sea, space and sun grant designations.

Oregon State is home to one of only five regional centers for the federal Sun Grant Initiative, a national network of land-grant universities and federally funded laboratories that are at the forefront of research and innovation involving bioenergy and biofuels production.

OSU150 Sun Grant Festival events are free of charge, but tickets are required or encouraged for almost all activities, and can be acquired at the festival website or through Eventbrite. Festival events are listed below:

March 21 to April 29, “Our Energy, Our Planet, Our Future” art exhibit, Giustina Gallery at The LaSells Stewart Center. An opening reception is planned from 6 to 8 p.m. April 3.

April 9, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sun Grant Festival Kickoff at the Memorial Union Quad. Check out a demonstration on how to make ethanol and view a portable solar trailer.

April 10, 6 p.m., Old World Deli. Learn about how solar thermal power generation works, what Oregon State is doing to advance solar thermal power, and what the future looks like for this renewable technology.

April 11, 6 p.m., Construction and Engineering Hall, The LaSells Stewart Center. Sun Grant officials discuss ways to boost sustainable energy by using switch grass, energy cane, and crops other than corn to produce plant-based ethanol.

April 12, 12 p.m., Room 109, Memorial Union. Scientists will be available for one-on-one discussions about their research.  A buffet lunch will be provided.

April 12, 1:30 p.m., Room 109, Memorial Union. “Unlocking the Potential of Little-known Biomass Crops,” presentation by Chris Daly, an Oregon State senior research professor of chemical, biological and environmental engineering, and Mike Halbleib, a GIS programmer and manager with Oregon State’s PRISM Climate Group. The PRISM Climate Group put together the country’s official climate maps, including the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map.

April 12, 5:30 p.m., Room 109, Memorial Union. Presentation called “Biofuels in a Sustainable Bioeconomy: Under What Conditions?” by Ganti Murthy, an Oregon State professor in the Biological and Ecological Engineering Department.

April 13, 1 to 3 p.m., Stahlbush Island Farms. Tour the farm of this leader in sustainable agriculture. Sample fruits and vegetables and see how its biogas facility operates.

April 16, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Memorial Union Ballroom. Hear the perspectives of eight Sun Grant-funded scientists on how to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Each scientist will give a short talk in the morning and a panel discussion will be held in the afternoon. Posters will be on display from OSU students and researchers throughout the day. Lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m.

April 17, 4 to 6 p.m., Tour Oregon State’s solar array near 35th Street and the Campus Way bike path. Tours leave every 20 minutes.

April 18, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tours of Oregon State labs focused on turning waste into energy.

April 18, 1:30 to 3 p.m., Tour the Oregon State agricultural greenhouses and a forest biotechnology lab.

April 20, 3 to 4:30 p.m., Tours of Oregon State labs focused on turning waste into energy.

The festival is one part of the Oregon State’s commemoration of its 150th anniversary. Several other events are upcoming and a museum exhibit, “Oregon State University: A Legacy of Transformation,” is on display through Sept. 9 at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland. The festival series will continue with the OSU150 Land Grant Festival in October.

~ Sean Nealon