U of I scientists pitch $40M carbon capture project for CWLP

Read the full story in the Springfield State Journal-Register.

A research center with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is looking for support from the Springfield City Council on a $40 million pilot project that would retrofit City Water, Light and Power’s newest power plant to capture carbon dioxide.

Kevin O’Brien, director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, presented their proposal to council members during Monday’s Utilities Committee meeting. The project would study whether the method of capturing carbon dioxide from CWLP’s emissions is effective and cost-efficient.

2019 Notice of Funding Opportunity for Coastal Management Program Grants

The IDNR Coastal Management Program will soon be accepting pre-applications for projects of $1,000 to $100,000 to protect, preserve, and restore Illinois’ Lake Michigan natural and cultural resources.

Funding will be available for projects that:

  1. improve the health of the coast and Lake Michigan;
  2. enhance coastal public access, recreation, and coastal-dependent economic development;
  3. advance coastal community resilience; or
  4. create beach management plans.

Eligible applicants include local governments, universities, and non-profits. These are federal pass-through grants and match is required.

Successful pre-applicants will be invited to submit full applications. Grant guidelines, application materials, maps, and other resources will be available after November 19th at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/cmp/Pages/grants.aspx. The pre-application submission deadline is Friday, January 18, 2019.

We strongly encourage potential applicants to attend a grant information session. CMP will be hosting two sessions in November and December:

Chicago Loop
When: Tuesday, 11/27/18 from 3:30-5pm
Where: 160 N. LaSalle St., N 502, Chicago, IL 60601
Registration: https://goo.gl/forms/6c5S8M2eUFRUAmIX2

Webinar
When: Friday, 12/7/18 from 11am-noon
Registration: https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/onstage/g.php?MTID=e0fc2753264dc8285e9c0ca13a492d7ea

If you cannot attend the grant information session or have additional questions, sign up for an optional grant consultation. Please contact lisa.cotner@illinois.gov for more information.

Northwestern releases comprehensive integrated solid waste management plan

Northwestern University has launched its first Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan (ISWMP) aimed at reducing waste and protecting the environment by taking a greener approach to waste management.

This Plan supports the University’s Strategic Sustainability Plan, which establishes objectives for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste and fostering environmental and ethical stewardship. The ISWMP identifies strategies for meeting the University’s objective of diverting 50 percent of campus waste from landfills by 2020 and further outlines waste reduction opportunities.

The Plan will guide the University’s efforts to achieve its Resource Conservation program vision within Northwestern’s Strategic Sustainability Plan “to adopt sustainable procurement practices for materials, food and services and take a comprehensive approach to conserving resources and reducing and managing waste.”

The ISWMP provides Northwestern’s schools and departments the opportunity to support increased diversion and reduced costs.

The results of a 2017 waste audit, with input received from students, faculty and staff, informed the Plan, targeting reasonable strategies for waste reduction and diversion. The waste audit consisted of more than 9,000 pounds of trash sorted from 20 buildings across the Evanston and Chicago campuses into 21 categories.

“By learning specifically what is in our waste stream, we now have the information needed to improve education, inform waste reduction and reuse efforts and expand recycling opportunities,” said Julie Cahillane, Northwestern sustainability associate director.

The audit team used an activity zone approach to capture waste from buildings by use, such as administrative offices, student housing and multi-activity spaces. A study team and a group of volunteers from throughout the University sorted the waste. The Plan breaks down campus waste to show what is avoidable, currently recyclable, compostable, potentially recyclable and nonrecoverable. The data revealed that Northwestern could recycle, avoid or compost nearly 70 percent of waste generated on campus.

In addition to the waste audit, the study team gathered input from more than 80 participants through focus groups, one-on-one interviews and workshops conducted throughout the study period. Discussions shed light on the overall campus culture surrounding resource recovery, waste-related priorities and challenges. The feedback was used to develop actions for increased recycling and waste reduction.

Over the past 22 months, Northwestern partnered with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) to conduct the audit, engage stakeholders and develop a plan that would address the campus waste characterization and our stakeholder concerns.

“ISTC brought a wealth of knowledge to this process,” Cahillane said. “Their attention to the specifics of our campus and community were critical to the success of this effort. Working with them was a great experience.”

“ISTC is honored to have been part of an integrated solid waste plan that prioritizes resource conservation by utilizing data, understanding local realities and building on institutional successes to realize goals,” said Shantanu Pai, assistant sustainability researcher.

To help reach Northwestern’s goal of 50 percent diversion by 2020, learn what can be recycled on campus, participate in waste reduction efforts and understand your individual impact.

Illinois Researchers Take Novel Approach to Removing PPCPs from Water

When you dump expired cold syrup or rinse out an almost empty bottle of lotion into the sink, do you ever consider what chemicals are being introduced into the water supply?

The increase of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) entering public water systems was a problem that researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign challenged themselves to solve thanks to seed funding from the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE).

“PPCPs pose dangerous ecological and health effects on chronic exposure even if they are present in low concentrations,” said Dipanjan Pan, Associate Professor and the Director of Professional MS Program in Bioengineering. “We believe we have found a low-cost way to remove these harmful chemicals — and by making it biodegradable, we won’t be introducing any complications to wildlife.”

A team led by Pan collaborated with Wei Zheng, Senior Research Scientist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC, a Division of the Prairie Research Institute), and B.K. Sharma, Senior Research Engineer at ISTC, to develop a unique technology to alter the harmful chemicals introduced to water. The results of their study were recently published in Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

Team members from Pan Laboratory created a “smart filter,” called a Pharmaceutical Nano-CarboScavenger (PNC), that efficiently and safely removes carbamazepine (found in medications treating a wide-range of physical and mental health issues), gemfibrozil (found in cholesterol medication), and triclocarban (an antibacterial agent found in soaps and lotions) from water. 

This filter is vastly different from your average water filter. It places activated charcoal and sand on top of the PNCs, which are carbon-filled cores made from agave. Water is allowed in, the activated charcoal removes heavy metals, the sand helps remove impurities and contaminants, and the PNCs scavenge through the water to remove the PPCP pollutants.

“A nanoengineered system that is based on an environmentally degradable system is a major and unmet need,” Zheng said. “The materials are derived from inexpensive natural sources and completely biodegradable, making this approach highly adaptable and environmentally friendly for mass processes.”

Other collaborators on the project: Indu Tripathi, former Postdoctoral Visiting Scholar in Bioengineering; Laurel K. Dodgen, former Illinois Postdoc and current Physical Scientist for the U.S. Department of the Interior; Fatemeh Ostadhossein, M.S. and Ph.D. Candidate in Bioengineering; Santosh Misra, former iSEE Postdoctoral Researcher in Bioengineering; and Enrique Daza, a recent Bioengineering Ph.D. graduate and an M.B.A. Candidate from Pan’s lab.

Backed by iSEE funding, Pan’s Nano-CarboScavenger team also has explored remediating crude oil spills in water and had successes in the lab at clumping oil globules that could be scooped by a fine net — again, with the particles completely biodegradable and having no effect on wildlife if consumed. Pan and his team have also explored possible cancer treatments using nanoparticles.

Two new ISTC technical reports now available

ISTC has published two new technical reports. In Yet-to-emerge contaminants in the Great Lakes region: Analytical method development and measurement of concentrations in a Great Lakes fish, researchers developed a screening method to extract and analyze a group of ten persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) substances and applied those methods to measure the concentrations of those compounds in lake trout collected from Lake Michigan.

In Occurrence and Fate of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Tile Drainage and Receiving Rivers in East Central Illinois, researchers developed an analytical method to monitor the occurrence of the herbicide glyphosate and its metabolite, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), in tile drain water and receiving river water collected in east central Illinois agricultural lands. The developed method was then used to monitor glyphosate and AMPA in tile drainage and their receiving watersheds (e.g., the Spoon River and Salt Fork).  Additional data collected during this study are available in Woodword, et al (2019). “Fate and transport of nitrapyrin in agroecosystems: Occurrence in agricultural soils, subsurface drains, and receiving streams in the Midwestern US.” Science of The Total Environment 650(2), 2830-2841. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.09.387.

Illinois Sustainability Awards in the news

CLC wins state sustainability award, listing on two prestigious media outlets (Lake County News-Sun)

In recognition of its efforts to promote environmental sustainability, the College of Lake County recently has made the list of top two-year colleges in Sierra magazine and the Princeton Review. Additionally, CLC received Oct. 23 the Illinois Sustainability Award from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Smart Energy Design Assistance Center honored with Illinois Sustainability Award (University of Illinois News Bureau)

The Smart Energy Design Assistance Center at Illinois was among the 27 winners of the Illinois Sustainability Award. Since 2004, SEDAC has been reducing the energy footprint of the state of Illinois through design assistance, outreach, research and education. Housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, SEDAC is a public-private partnership with 360 Energy Group.

CU Mass Transit District wins award for sustainable practices (Daily Illini)

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District was awarded the Sustainability Award for environmentally sustainable practices for the second time in five years.

Village receives 2018 Illinois Sustainability Award (Village of Hoffman Estates)

The Village of Hoffman Estates was honored for its sustainability efforts on Oct. 23, along with twenty-six other Illinois companies and organizations. The state-wide Illinois Sustainability Awards were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The winners were announced during a ceremony at the Union League Club in Chicago. The Village previously received the award in 2011 and received an honorable mention in 2014.

Nicor Gas Emerging Technology Program Receives Sustainability Award (Nicor Gas)

Nicor Gas’ Emerging Technology Program (ETP) is the recipient of the 2018 Illinois Sustainability Award for its efforts to implement innovative and sustainable technologies and its demonstrated commitment to sustaining environmental, social and economic health. The ETP, a part of energySMART, Nicor Gas’ energy efficiency program, assesses promising new technologies that have the potential to generate natural gas savings. It is the only gas ETP program of its kind in Illinois and the largest in the Midwest.

IFB honored for NLRS activities (FarmWeek)

Hundreds of field days, workshops and webinars educating tens of thousands of individuals about sustainability resulted in the recognition of Illinois Farm Bureau as a winner of the 2018 Sustainability Award. The award, given by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, honors IFB’s ongoing efforts to create awareness of, improve and implement environmental sustainability practices across the state.