Perfluorinated compounds, microplastics, and pharmaceuticals are just some of the topics that will be discussed at the upcoming Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference 2018 (ECAEC18) June 5-6 at the I Hotel Conference Center in Champaign, IL. Registration is now open online through May 29. The conference is being organized by ISTC, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and the U of I Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Winners of the Illinois Sustainability Award (ISA) are. The Award is one of the nation’s original awards recognizing environmental responsibility and cutting costs through sustainability. All Illinois businesses, organizations, and local governments are eligible to apply for the award by May 3. Winners will be announced at a Technical Symposium and Awards Luncheon Oct. 23 in Chicago. Last year, program participants cut non-hazardous solid waste by 89,603 tons, and saved almost 15 million gallons of water, 1.4 MWh of electricity, and nearly $11 million. You can apply for the award online. Registration for the event will be available later this summer.
For years ISTC researcher B.K. Sharma has been looking for an environmentally friendly way to recycle complex plastics. Complex mixed-polymers from products like refrigerators, televisions, computers, monitors, mobile phones, and video game consoles have ended up being incinerated or landfilled. Now Sharma’s team is the first to demonstrate a nontoxic, non-destructive, and energy-efficient process to recover polymers from these more complex plastic blends. Their work was published in Materials and Energy Recovery from E-Waste Plastics.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced funding for ISTC’s project titled ”Large Pilot Testing of Linde/BASF Advanced Post-Combustion CO2 Capture Technology at Coal Fired Power Plant.” ISTC Director Kevin OBrien who is leading the project stated that the overall goal is to design, construct, and operate a 10 MWe capture system based on the Linde-BASF advanced amine-based post-combustion carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technology at a coal-fired power plant in IL. The Phase I feasibility study part of the project will be conducted over the next 16 months.
Research is progressing on a novel biphasic solvent absorption method that holds promise as an innovative, cost-saving alternative to the conventional CO2 capture process in power plants. ISTC researchers have been assisting the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) on a lab-scale U.S. DOE-funded project developing a biphasic CO2 absorption process (BiCAP) with multiple stages of liquid-liquid solvent phase separation, which improves CO2 absorption kinetics and increases the carbon capture capacity. Now the research efforts are ready for the next step. Recently U.S. DOE announced $3M of additional funding for ISGS and ISTC to conduct a three-year bench-scale study of their BiCAP technology. The proposed technology is aimed at achieving a CO2 capture cost of $30/tonne and >95% CO2 purity to meet DOE’s Transformational CO2 Capture goals.
For decades, John Marlin, researcher at ISTC and Robert G. Darmody, a soil scientist with the U of I Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, studied the removal and beneficial use of lake and river sediments as recovered ‘topsoil’ for parks and other uses. ISTC has published a report on the complete findings of the “Mud to Parks” project as Technical Report-068 “Beneficial Use of Illinois River Sediment for Agricultural and Landscaping Applications.” The report details various sites where sediment was taken and deposited as well as insights about uses and best practices for the material. It also includes detailed information on the characteristics of sediment-derived topsoil, including mixtures with biosolids and application to sandy soil (Mason County). This summary report was funded with a grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Snapshots of the impact of manufacturing on the economy and environment of six Midwest states has been completed by the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR). The six summary reports represent a three-year project to analyze information compiled from three publically available databases (U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), Greenhouse Gas Emissions database, and the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns). Also produced were summary reports for two key manufacturing sectors (Food Manufacturing and Processing, and Fabricated Metals) in the six-state region. Links to the eight summary reports and the full report are available on the GLRPPR website. According to GLRPPR Executive Director Laura Barnes, work is now underway to make the reports available as interactive online resources.
ISTC received funding from the Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) at Grand Valley State University (MI) to collaborate with them to investigate the role of aquatic plastic debris in spreading persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs, PBDEs, PAHs, and pesticides in the environment. Working at Muskegon Lake in MI, John Scott, ISTC senior chemist, and his colleagues will study plastic particles’ ability to accumulate POPs on their surface as a vector for dispersing contamination in water and sediments and eventually into the food chain.
Working to Build Community Resiliency in Illinois
Nancy Holm, assistant director at ISTC, and Sally McConkey, CHAMP section head at ISWS, were awarded a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for their project “Building Resiliency in the Face of Risk.” The project will identify applicable strategies for Illinois state agencies to consider to incorporate in decision-making to improve their resiliency relative to climate variability. The project will be completed in fall 2018.
A research team led by ISTC Senior Research Engineer B.K. Sharma has been awarded the Illinois Center for Transportation/Illinois Department of Transportation’s 2018 High Impact Research Award for their study of using recycled asphalt on Illinois roads to save money and promote use of recycled materials. The project (Phase I) evaluated how long asphalt made with the recycled materials will last. Other team members included ISTC Associate Director Nandakishore Rajagopalan and researchers in the U of I Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The award was presented on Feb. 28 during the Transportation and Highway Engineering Annual Conference at the U of I campus. Phase II of the project will focus on defining optimum percentages of recycled materials and modifiers that perform best.
The Illinois EPA Office of Energy is teaming up with ISTC and the U of I’s Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) to help municipalities reduce the cost of wastewater treatment. ISTC and SEDAC will be providing free energy usage assessments. Find out how you can save energy and money in your wastewater treatment plant by visiting our informational page and applying for a site visit.
Zheng Named 2017 Outstanding Associate Editor by JEQ
Wei Zheng, senior research scientist at ISTC, has been selected as a 2017 Journal of Environmental Quality Outstanding Associate Editor. He has been an associate editor for JEQ since 2013. Dr. Zheng joined ISTC in 2008. His research currently focuses on emerging contaminants and pathogens associated with reclaimed water reuse and wastewater treatment, pesticide pollution, and biochar production and applications.
ISTC Senior Research Researcher B.K. Sharma, has been admitted as a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Sharma is a leading researcher in biolubricants, biofuels, and alternative fuels. Recent work involves environmentally friendly replacements for petroleum products and recovering high-value chemicals from waste materials and biomass.
ISTC will host the spring meeting of the Illinois Biochar Group on May 4 from noon – 3 p.m. Anyone who is interested in learning more about biochar is welcome to attend. There will be several presentations on biochar research and production and also time for networking. http://www.biochar.illinois.edu/event.shtml