Presented by Dr. Kurt Spokas - USDA-ARS Soil Scientist April 5, 2013 Biochar (a form of black carbon) has been recently heralded as an amendment to revitalize worn-out/weathered soils, increase soil C sequestration, enhance agronomic productivity, and enter into future carbon trading markets. Soil application has been the assumed target for biochar. Biochar has been shown to occasionally cause immense benefits to both crop yields and soil fertility when added to degraded/weathered soils, but simultaneously has a documented history of negative to negligible agronomic impacts. Past research, as far back as the 1800's, has demonstrated that biochar has variable properties, which spans the full spectrum of black carbon residuals. Thus, suggesting that biochar is not a panacea for all soils. The mechanisms behind these biochar impacts are complex with multiple potential hypotheses. This presentation will summarize on-going research into the mechanisms behind the mitigation potential for N2O emissions and the role of biochar in improving water quality through nitrate and agrochemical sorption/reactions. With population expansion and the finite area of tillable ground, improving nonproductive soils with biochar could be a vital key to future global food production, food security, and energy supplies.
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Affordable biochar production options: Small cookstoves, medium barrels, and some large devices
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Presented by: Kurt Spokas - USDA at ISTC's 2010 Biochar Symposium
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Presented by Gillen Wood, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign English Dept. and Director of the Sustainabililty Studies Initiative in the Humanities
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Presented by: Steve Heilmann - University of Minnesota at ISTC's 2010 Biochar Symposium
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Presented by: Cody Ellens - Avello Bioenergy, Inc. at ISTC's 2010 Biochar Symposium
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Forward osmosis (FO) for dewatering/desalination applications has received increasing interest due to its potential use of low grade thermal energy, ability to operate at low pressure, and reduced tendency to foul. Developments in FO are primarily focused on two areas: (a) expanding the availability of draw solutions that generate high osmotic pressure; are easily separated from water using physical and/or chemical means; are non-corrosive, nontoxic, and chemically stable; exhibit near neutral pH; and are inexpensive and (b) developing membranes that exhibit high flux and suitable salt rejection under FO conditions. In this presentation we focus on the challenges of draw solution utilization and regeneration. In this presentation, we will talk about a forward osmosis desalination process that employs a temperature-reversible polymer to recycle the draw solute. In our work, a high concentration MgSO4 solution is used as draw solution. After forward osmosis, the diluted draw solution is mixed with a thermally-reversible polymer, poly (propyleneoxide) -co-poly (ethyleneoxide). This polymer extracts water from the diluted draw solution and the whole solution forms two phases, a polymer-water phase and a concentrated MgSO4 solution phase (bottom). The bottom MgSO4 solution phase is recycled back to the forward osmosis module, while the polymer-water phase is heated above the polymer's cloudy point (60°C) to recycle the polymer and to produce clean water. Experimental details on the process will be presented.
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Presented by Sarah A. Zack - Pollution Prevention Extension Specialist, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and University of Illinois Extension The ecosystem impact of microplastics, a type of land-based marine debris that includes particles less than 5 millimeters in size, is of growing interest in the Great Lakes and other inland waters. Microplastic pollution in freshwater systems is still an emerging science and researchers have just begun to describe its scope, abundance, and distribution. There is still much to be learned about its long-term effects, including impacts to aquatic food webs. Since 2012, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) has been working to conduct and fund research and educate the public about microplastic pollution. IISG is dedicated to supporting continued research on emerging contaminants such as microplastics, and recognizes that there is a need for more information to determine the long-term effects of this pollution on Midwestern lakes and rivers. This seminar will discuss freshwater microplastic sources and types, relevant chemical and physical properties, and potential impacts, as well as provide an overview of the work done by IISG to address this emerging contaminant.
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A key challenge for society is the development of renewable energy sources. The 2007 U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) mandated a thirty-six billion gallon switch from fossil fuels to biofuels by 2022, with twenty-one billion gallons being derived from non-corn sources. Our work involves total utilization of renewable material (algae) and waste material (spent coffee ground) through the use of a two‐step process. The first step is removal of oil that can be converted to biodiesel, while the second step involves conversion of the remaining defatted material and other waste fatty material (soapstock) into bio‐oil using pyrolysis and hydrothermal liquefaction. The bio‐oils are then characterized using various analytical techniques to explain the influence of feedstocks and processes on bio‐oil yields and composition. It was determined that the presence of higher oxygen and nitrogen in feedstocks results in more O and N-containing compounds in bio-oils, thereby causing lower heating values. Pyrolysis conversion has also been demonstrated for conversion of waste plastics in municipal solid waste to plastic crude oils (75-80%), which on distillation provides approximately 20% gasoline, 60% diesel and 20% vacuum gas oil. The diesel fraction as such and its blend with petroleum ULSD met most of the ASTM specifications.
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Presented by Barbara Mahler - Research Hydrologist, United States Geological Survey - at the 2017 Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference. Sealcoat is the black, viscous liquid sprayed or painted on many asphalt parking lots, driveways, and playgrounds to protect and enhance the appearance of the underlying asphalt. Dr. Mahler will discuss results of studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), academic institutions, and state and local agencies that have identified coal-tar-based pavement sealcoat as a major source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination and a potential concern for human health and aquatic life.
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Presented by Matt Simcik - Associate Professor, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota My group, along with colleagues, have developed an in situ remediation method for PFAS contaminated groundwater. It involves the addition of cationic polymer coagulants and in some cases powdered activated carbon. We also have plans to develop this method for surface water, wastewater treatment, landfill leachate as well as increasing the efficiency of drinking water treatment. I will present results of our work on developing the method and plans for field implementation.
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Fine grained sediment is loaded into a barge from the harbor at Jacksonville, FL for a short trip to a confined disposal facility. Due to the short haul distance, adding water is not an issue and several inches accumulate over the mud. The barge is moved to the CDF site and water is added to thin the material so it will flow across the site rather than accumulate near the pipe. Barges can be unloaded in less than an hour. The consistency of material can be altered by adding water to allow the material to be pumped farther or spread over an area. Note that the discharged material is thicker than that at Tampa and splatters like oil.
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“Mr. Sewer” is a multi-stage waste-to-biofuel production system under development by ISTC. This system can remove both organics and nutrients in municipal wastewaters and turn them into renewable energy resources. Processing of the wastewaters is combined with algae farming in a way that amplifies the energy production while cleaning the water for potential reuse applications. The nutrients support algal growth and the algae are then harvested for use in biofuel. Amplified by the sun's energy and continuous nutrient reuse, an optimized system can harvest three to ten times the energy contained in the waste water. Calculations based on a commercial-scale demonstration plant on the University of Illinois campus indicate the technology is well-suited to generate fuel/revenue from wastes at the scale of a small city or a self-contained military installation.
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Presented by Dr. Luis Rodriguez - Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering and Research Asst. Professor, Information Trust Institute, both at University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
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A wheeled skidder loaded sediment into the hopper of a truck mounted concrete conveyor. Because the hopper is designed for concrete, the more viscous sediment did not readily flow through the hopper onto the belt. The 40-foot feeder belt pulled the sediment from the hopper and carried it to a transfer point on top of the truck where it fell onto the main 105-foot belt. The belt moves horizontally and vertically providing great flexibility in placement options. Sediment could only be fed into the concrete hopper rapidly enough to operate the conveyor at about 10% of its capacity.
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Presented by David Hughes - Water Research Manager for American Water Company's Office of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship
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Charles Curtiss, Illinois State Water Survey Billion Gallon Water Challenge Project
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Over the summer of 2010 outside of Champaign, IL, ISTC scientists used biochar as a soil amendment on a test plot of corn. The project was sponsored by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program. For more information about ISTC's involvement in biochar, please visit http://www.istc.illinois.edu/research/biochar.cfm.
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A bulldozer spreads poured mud on the slag field. The tracks leave ruts that aid the drying process. Material is piled up to eight feet high. These clips were shot between April and July. An endloader was used occasionally.
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Presented By: Robert Darmody - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at ISTC's 2010 Sponsored Research Symposium
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Presented by Yujie Men - Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign There are emerging concerns about organic micropollutants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and personal care products due to their potential adverse effects on environmental ecosystems and the public health. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are a major sink for down-the-drain chemicals and thus play a key role in their environmental fate. Strong associations have been observed between ammonia oxidization activities and the biotransformation of some micropollutants. However, whether there is a causal relationship between those two remains unclear. Batch scale pure culture and inhibition studies, as well as micropollutant removal investigation for a full scale enhanced nitrification step at local WWTPs have been applied to get a better understanding of roles played by ammonia oxidizers. Various types of evidence indicate essential involvement of nitrifying microorganisms in the biotransformation of certain micropollutants. For above half of the micropollutants investigated, the biotransformation of micropollutants in WWTPs achieved by heterotrophs or a combined contribution of heterotrophs and nitrifiers. The findings provide important insights into the persistency of different micropollutants during biological wastewater treatment processes.
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Dr. Leslie Cooperband, UI Dept. of Human & Community Development
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Presented by Presented by Diana S. Aga - Professor, Department of Chemistry, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
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Presented by Lisa Lucero, UI Associate Professor of Anthropology
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Presented by David E. Brune - Professor of Bioprocess and Bioenergy Engineering, Division of Food Sciences and Bioengineering, University of Missouri at Columbia
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Presented by Erika Houtz, PhD, PFAS Analytical Lead at Arcadis and Jeffrey McDonough, M.S., P.E. Principal Environmental Engineer at Arcadis Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) comprise a diverse class of contaminants, which include PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). PFASs are not amenable to bioremediation or conventional chemical treatment, and this limits in situ remediation options. PFAS are relatively ubiquitous in the environment at low concentrations, but source areas exhibit higher PFAS concentrations. While the USEPA Health Advisory Limit of 70 nanograms per liter for the summation of PFOA and PFOS is not a maximum contaminant level (MCL), to be protective of potential beneficial reuse aquifers, PFAS groundwater plumes emanating from source zones will require some form of active management. The use of conventional sorbents, such as granular activated carbon (GAC) and anion exchange (AIX) resins, to address PFASs in water have become a “de facto” interim measure in response to immediate needs for PFAS removal from drinking water. Challenges of more comprehensive PFAS treatment in drinking water may also be addressed using technologies such as reverse osmosis or nano-filtration. Extending these technologies to extracted groundwater for remediation purposes, which have various degrees of geochemical and co-contaminant competition, often requires a treatment train, combining conventional sorbents and engineered filtration with more innovative and emerging remediation solutions for PFASs. These emerging solutions include many types of technologies to address source zones, mitigate mass flux in aquifers, or address PFASs in extracted water to improve the efficiency of conventional drinking water treatment technologies. There are new flocculation technologies, novel AIX resins, new engineered sorptive media, electrochemical oxidation, electrocoagulation, sonolysis, and advanced oxidation processes combined with advanced reductive processes. Remediation technologies for PFAS source zones in soil are primarily limited to excavation with onsite or offsite incineration and in situ soil stabilization. For in situ soil stabilization to be considered viable, ongoing research and development is being conducted to evaluate the longevity of fixation amidst circumneutral pH and biotransformation, which may enhance PFAS dissolution. Remediation of PFAS source zones and the associated groundwater plumes presently requires multiple technologies to protect human health in a cost-conscious manner. An investment in research and development to explore new technologies is part of a key initiative for groundwater preservation and protection of human health. The technologies discussed here will be presented, and their applicability/readiness to the remediation market will be assessed.
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Katrin Klingenberg, Co-Founder and Director of Ecological Construction Laboratory & Passive House Institute US
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Victor Lin, Iowa State University Dept. of Chemistry & Director of the Chemical and Biological Sciences Program at Ames Laboratory
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Presented by John Scott - Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Unconventional sources of oil and gas are becoming increasingly important in meeting US energy demands. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of shales in locations such as Pennsylvania are commonplace in response to the need for domestically sourced energy. Although development of these new technologies has increased the domestic production of gas and oil, there have been many concerns relating to contamination of surface water, groundwater and drinking water supplies. Fluorescence excitation-emission spectroscopy is a rapid and inexpensive technique that could be utilized as a screening tool for water samples suspected of contamination by hydraulic fracturing operations. In conjunction with computational analysis of the fluorescence data using techniques such as parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC), questions such as "Has there been contamination caused by fracking" can be answered rapidly and inexpensively. Chemical additives used in fracturing fluids and chemical contaminates in produced waters, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), could be used as a surrogate to determine if contamination of surface waters, groundwaters, and drinking waters was due to hydraulic fracturing operations in nearby locations. Methods developed in this project could aid in water quality monitoring and help guide decisions regarding further testing of water samples suspected of contamination.
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Presented by Scott Spak - Assistant Professor, University of Iowa Why are pollutants banned in 1979 still found at 1980s levels in Illinois air? How can we learn to clean up legacy pollutants and emerging contaminants from hundreds of unknown sources? Quantifying current conditions, estimating contemporary and historical exposures, identifying toxicological thresholds, and optimizing effective control policies for persistent organic pollutants all require accurate local assessment of sources, chemical transport, and impacts for complex mixtures of thousands of known and potentially toxic compounds. Here, we use PCBs and other semi-volatile organic pollutants in Chicago as a case study to build a transferable method to develop that knowledge through parcel-scale emissions inventories, chemical transport modeling, exposure studies, and variational data assimilation using publicly available data, international and urban observational networks, and US EPA regulatory models.
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Presented by Tim Hoellein - Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago at the 2017 Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference. Accrual of anthropogenic litter (AL; trash such as plastic), is an emerging concern in ecosystems worldwide. The study of AL’s origin, redistribution, microbial colonization, and consumption has revealed new insights into basic processes in marine ecology. While AL research in freshwaters lags behind, research on AL in rivers is needed to understand fundamental processes in urban streams, and to inform global estimates of AL budgets and movement. For this research, tools of ecosystem and community ecology (i.e., organic matter movement and biological communities) were adapted to study AL dynamics in urban streams in several individual research projects. AL was separated into size classes that spanned a gradient from fine particles (microplastic, less than 5 mm), to intermediate-sized materials (plastic bags, food packaging), to large immobile items (construction debris). Studies examined the capacity of AL to affect basic ecosystem characteristics, including 1) controls on downstream fluxes of particulate and dissolved compounds, 2) effects of surface characteristics on biofilm community composition and activity, and 3) habitat heterogeneity and organic matter retention. Results show that anthropogenic litter is abundant, diverse, and mobile, with a diversity of chemical and biological interactions at all spatial scales. The study of anthropogenic litter and microplastic will enhance our understanding of ecosystem processes and communities in urban rivers. In addition, these studies will unite the early stages of the AL ‘life cycle’ in streams with its later, well-studied stages of accumulation in global oceans.
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Presented by Jennifer Wilcox - Department of Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford University
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Presented By: John Kelly - Dept. of Biology, Loyola University-Chicago at ISTC's 2008 PPCPs Symposium
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Presented by Kathleen Robbins - Co-founder, Jatropha Pepinye
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Presented by Nancy Holm, Assistant Director, and Jennifer Martin, Environmental Program Development Specialist, both from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign The new Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act which went into effect on June 1, 2017, now requires an updated Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in Illinois. This new RPS directs that solar energy use be expanded across the state, increasing Illinois’ solar capacity from about 75 MW to about 2,700 MW by 2030. With these new requirements for increased solar installations, there will be a critical need to examine the disposal and recycling or repurposing of used and broken solar panels to ensure protection of the environment and also to explore the economic benefits of recycling/repurposing solar panels in the state. As the solar energy industry continues to grow in the state as well as nationally and globally, there is a looming waste management issue at the end-of-life of these panels. The average lifespan of a panel is 30 years. Given this, the International Renewable Energy Agency estimated that there will be a surge in solar panel disposal in the early 2030s, and by 2050, there will be 60 to 78 million cumulative tons of solar panel waste globally. Some countries, particularly in Europe, have established recycling networks. However, in the U.S. we are just beginning to develop a network of recyclers and, as yet, there is not a strong recycling infrastructure in place in Illinois. These used or broken solar panels should be properly recycled to prevent toxic compounds from leaching into the environment, as well as to avoid disposal of valuable and finite resources into landfills. The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Solar Energy Industry Association, Illinois Solar Energy Association, and other entities to create awareness around these issues, as well as establish the necessary policy and standards required to build a network of solar panel recyclers in Illinois. Details on solar panel waste and recycling will be discussed in this presentation.
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Presented By: Donna Mensching - ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, Champaign at ISTC's 2010 Sponsored Research Symposium
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Presented by Dr. Sam C Weaver - President of Proton Power, Inc
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Presented by Dr. Keryn Lian - Asstociate Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Toronto
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Presented By: Patrick Hayes - Dept. of Chemistry, Northwestern University at ISTC's 2008 PPCPs Symposium
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