Illinois Farm to Food Bank project garners media attention

Photo courtesy of Rendleman Orchards

The Farm to Food Bank project, a collaboration between Feeding Illinois, the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP), and Illinois farmers, has been getting some media attention. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Recent coverage includes:

Read more about the project on the TAP website.

TAP seeks partner for USDA composting and food waste reduction pilot program grant

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) recently released a funding opportunity announcement for their Composting and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) cooperative agreements. Applications are due by September 1, 2022.

This program provides financial assistance to municipalities, school districts, counties, local governments, or tribal governments (State-designated Indian Tribes, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments) for composting and food waste reduction pilot programs. While applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that meet more than one of the objectives below (inclusion of multiple objectives will be considered when ranking proposals), OUAIP will accept proposals that address at least one of the following:

  • Generate compost
  • Increase access to compost for agricultural producers
  • Reduce reliance on, and limit the use of, fertilizer
  • Improve soil quality
  • Encourage waste management and permaculture business development
  • Increase rainwater absorption
  • Reduce municipal food waste; and
  • Divert residential and commercial food waste from landfills.

In addition to meeting one or more of the above purposes applicants are encouraged to align their project proposals to address priorities on environmental justice, racial equity, climate, investment in disadvantaged communities, and climate smart agricultural practices. Priority will be given for each of the following elements that are included in a project:

  • Anticipate or demonstrate economic benefits for the targeted community;
  • Incorporate plans to make compost easily accessible to agricultural producers, including community gardeners, school gardens, and producers;
  • Integrate food waste reduction strategies, including innovative food recovery efforts such as, but not limited to, food gleaning, storage, and preservation techniques; and
  • Include a robust plan that describes collaboration with multiple partners.

Eligible entities should collaborate with two or more partner organizations on their CFWR pilot project. Non-eligible entities may be partners on a project.

ISTC seeks an eligible organization to be the lead applicant on a collaborative proposal. ISTC’s TAP staff will provide support on the cooperative agreement through zero waste technical assistance, education, and outreach. Contact TAP to learn more about this partnership opportunity.

ISTC researchers invited to present at 16th Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies Conference

Several ISTC researchers recently had abstracts accepted for the 16th Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies Conference (GHGT16), to be held October 23-27, 2022 in Lyon, France.

GHGT is the principal international conference for greenhouse gas mitigation technologies and focuses on carbon capture, utilization, and storage.

The abstracts accepted for the conference are:

  • “Compressed CO2 Energy Storage on CO2 Transport Pipelines” (presentation/corresponding author: Sebastiano Giardinella)
  • “Full-scale FEED Study for Retrofitting the Prairie State Generating Station with an 816 MWe Capture Plant using Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering Post-Combustion CO2 Capture Technology” (presentation/corresponding author: Jason Dietsch)
  • “FEED Study for Retrofitting Holcim US Cement Facility with CO2 Capture Plant Using Air Liquide Adsorption Assisted Cryogenic Technology” (presentation/corresponding author: Hafiz Salih)
  • “Progress Update Large Pilot Testing of Linde-BASF Advanced Post-Combustion Capture Technology at City Water, Light, and Power ” (presentation/corresponding author: Stephanie Brownstein)
  • “Direct Air Capture-Based Carbon Dioxide Removal with United States Low-Carbon Energy and Sinks AOI 2: Initial Engineering Design of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Systems (TRL 6) for Direct Air Capture” (poster/corresponding author: Jason Dietsch)
  • “Parametric Testing and Evaluation of a Novel Biphasic Absorption Process for Post-Combustion Carbon Capture” (presentation/corresponding author: Yongqi Lu)
  • 21st Century Power Plant: Front-End Engineering Design Study for Hybrid Gas Turbine and Ultra-Supercritical (USC) Coal Boiler Concept (HGCC) Plant with Post Combustion Carbon Capture and Energy Storage System at City, Water, Light and Power Plant (CWLP) (poster/corresponding author: Les Gioja)

Read more about ISTC’s energy research.

Debra Jacobson recognized by Industrial Water, Waste & Sewage Group (IWWSG)

Debra JacobsonThe Industrial Water, Waste & Sewage Group (IWWSG) has named Debra Jacobson the 2022 recipient of the E. Ted Erickson Distinguished Environmental Professional Award.

Ms. Jacobson joins a notable list of 24 past recipients, which is named in honor of founder E. Ted Erickson.  The group established the award in 2000 to recognize an individual who has made a significant contribution(s) in the environmental area, especially at the local and regional levels.

The award is granted based on recognition of the recipient’s community service advancing IWWSG’s goals, leadership / service to environmental professional organizations, including the IWWSG, and contributions to the field of environmental laws / compliance / management / education.

Ms. Jacobson is Associate Director at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois. She oversees the Technical Assistance Program, the Illinois Coastal Management Program team, and the Institutional Water Treatment unit. She also works as an environmental engineer overseeing technical, environmental and safety compliance assistance to organizations, including industrial facilities, within and outside Illinois. Ms. Jacobson collaborates with federal, state and local government agencies and industry trade groups on environmental matters including energy efficiency, zero waste and emerging environmental impacts, such as end of life renewable energy equipment.

Underwater innovation at Illinois Beach State Park to help mitigate coastal erosion

Aerial view of fully installed submerged rubble ridges
Aerial view of fully installed submerged rubble ridges

Each year, winter wreaks havoc on Lake Michigan communities as waves and ice pummel the coast. In recent years, winter storms combined with record high lake levels have been especially damaging. Illinois Beach State Park (IBSP), which is home to the largest stretch of natural shoreline in Illinois, has been especially hard hit, losing valuable roads, dune ecosystems, and beaches.

US Army Corps of Engineers placing stone offshore of Hosah Park in Zion, IL
US Army Corps of Engineers placing stone offshore of Hosah Park in Zion, IL

This past summer, with funding from the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a US Army Corps of Engineers crane carefully placed over 10,000 tons of stone five hundred feet offshore of IBSP and Hosah Park, a Zion Park District property wedged between the north and south units of IBSP.  Hidden from view underneath the shallow coastal waters of Lake Michigan, these stones form three “rubble ridges” approximately seven hundred and fifty feet long. They are intended to work in concert to lessen storm waves and protect the eroding beach and unique terrestrial ecosystem in the dunes while preserving views and enhancing fish habitat.

Since 2014, record lake levels have accelerated erosion across the Great Lakes, necessitating the development of new, lower impact, and less expensive measures that can protect shorelines. In the last six years, Illinois Beach State Park has experienced record high erosion along its shore. The park, home to unique prairie and wetland habitat and a beloved local and regional recreation draw, is threatened by high waters and storm overwash that erode and fill in the narrow dune swales– called pannes– home to rare and endemic plants and animals. A group of scientists led by Steve Brown and Robin Mattheus of the Illinois State Geological Survey, and Ethan Theuerkauf of Michigan State University, have worked to document and understand these changes.

To build on this work, the IDNR Coastal Management Program enlisted help from Healthy Port Futures, a design-research group funded by Great Lakes Protection Fund, to investigate innovative coastal resilience projects in the Great Lakes. The team collaborated with the Shoreline Management Working Group and other local stakeholders, including IDNR Fisheries and Illinois Natural History Survey scientists, who provided guidance to ensure the rubble ridges provide good fish habitat by creating small, protected pore spaces within the structures. Consulting firm Anchor QEA provided engineering expertise throughout the process, including the development of a wave model to calibrate the rubble ridge concept to local environmental conditions.

Fish swimming among the submerged rubble ridges
Early monitoring data has shown fish already utilizing the rubble ridges for habitat

Researchers from Illinois State Geological Survey, Michigan State, and Illinois Natural History Survey will monitor how efficiently the rubble ridges slow waves, their effect on the adjacent beach and nearshore environment, as well as their ability to support fish habitat over time. If successful, the approach will help protect Illinois beaches and may provide a low-cost alternative for other Great Lakes communities looking to protect their coastal landscapes and enjoy the fishing, birding, and beauty these important landscapes offer. This project represents an important step towards the future of Great Lakes coastal resiliency and is a testament to the importance of interagency collaboration, a reliance on good science, and an investment in developing innovative approaches that preserve the most basic and important qualities and experiences of places Illinoisans love.

Rendering of project plan describing protected beach, dissapated wave zone, submerged rubble ridge, and prevailing wave direction
Rendering of project plan



How can Illinois address the problem of PFAS pollution?

John Scott - senior analytical chemist, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
John Scott, a senior chemist with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, says per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are widespread, long-lasting and extremely difficult to remove from the environment. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor, U of I News Bureau

TAP project helps Rendleman Orchard get surplus fruit to food banks

Boxes are loaded onto a truck for delivery to the food bank (photo credit: Zach Samaras)
Rendleman Orchards worker loads boxes onto a truck for delivery to a food bank (photo credit: Zach Samaras)

ISTC and Feeding Illinois partnered with Rendleman Orchards during the 2021 growing season to ensure no fruit went to waste. Through the USDA’s Farm to Food Bank grant, Feeding Illinois was able to pay Rendleman Orchards its picking and pack-out costs (PPO) which represent the farm’s costs to harvest and package the product and enabled the donation of the peaches, nectarines, and apples. The fruit was either off-spec, meaning it did not qualify to be sold in typical primary markets due to size/weight/blemishes, or surplus, meaning that the farmer did not have a buyer or market outlet for the fruit. The project team helped Rendleman Orchards avoid waste, recoup their costs, and provide fresh local nutritious fruit to Illinois neighbors in need.

Rendleman Orchards started by providing 48 cases of peaches to Tri-State Food Bank’s Vienna, IL hub. After initial success, St. Louis Area foodbank and Northern Illinois Food Bank began receiving cases of peaches and nectarines as well. As demand grew from the food banks, Rendleman Orchards aggregated peaches and nectarines from neighboring Flamm Orchards.

Each week Rendleman Orchards reached out to a specific contact at each food bank with quantities available. Interested food banks placed orders with Rendleman Orchards by the end of the week and either pick-up or receive a delivery the following Tuesday. Tri-State Food Bank and Northern Illinois Food Bank orders were delivered, while St. Louis Area foodbank picked up directly from the farm. All invoices were sent to Feeding Illinois and were paid upon confirmation of receipt from the food banks.

By the end of the 2021 growing season, Feeding Illinois reimbursed Rendleman Orchards $272,182 to cover the PPO costs for the donation of 567,085 pounds of Illinois-grown fresh fruits: 7,458 cases (372,900 lbs) of peaches; 539 cases (26,950 lbs) of nectarines; and a combined 167,235 pounds of bagged and bulk apples. An additional $10,420 was paid for associated deliveries to the four recipient food banks.

Read the full case study.

U.S. Department of Energy announces investment to further develop carbon capture technology via FEED study

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE-NETL) selected the University of Illinois for $4 million in funding, in addition to cost share contributions by LafargeHolcim and Air Liquide, for research and development to support a front-end engineering design (FEED) study of a carbon capture retrofit at an industrial facility in Missouri.

Read the LafargeHolcim news release.

DOE publishes survey of U.S. federal and state-level solar system decommissioning policies

DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently published A Survey of Federal and State-Level Solar System Decommissioning Policies in the United States. ISTC’s Jennifer Martin was one of the report’s peer reviewers.

The report provides a survey and brief overview of both Bureau of LM and U.S. statewide solar decommissioning policies, and a discussion of some of the potential impacts different policy designs may have on utility-scale solar development, including impacts that might influence construction timelines and over project costs.

Read the full report on the NREL website.