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ISTC News Highlights

An Updated Look at PCBs in Illinois Published at University of Illinois

Governor's Award TrophyThe report stemming from the Sept. 17 scientific workshop on "PCBs and Their Impact in Illinois" has been published by the Prairie Research Institute. The one-day workshop on the University of Illinois Chicago campus gathered leading authorities on the history and science about the persistent pollutant. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are a class of synthetic chemicals widely used in industry as a coolant and electrical insulator. The report, titled "An Updated Look at PCBs," videos of panel presentations, and other useful information are available for viewing on the PCB workshop website.

Time Is Running Out for Sustainability Award Nominees

Governor's Award Trophy Nominations must be submitted electronically by 5 p.m. Friday, May 22 for the 2015 Illinois Governor's Sustainability Awards Program. The Award recognizes significant achievements in protecting the environment, helping sustain the future, and improving the economy. Last year's applicants boasted $7.7 million in savings among business, organizations and communities. Watch the recorded webinar "Stand out in Sustainability: the Illinois Governor's Sustainability Awards" for more information on successful Award applications!
More on Gov's Awards

Study Finds Biomass Gasification Ash is Right Stuff for Strong, Light Masonry

Ash from biomass shown to make strong bricksAsh produced from biofuel production by biomass gasification BGA) is suitable for use in bricks and concrete and lowers costs, according to a recent technical report (TR057) published by ISTC. It is a sustainable use for ash that is usually disposed of in landfills. Small particles of ash may offer superior performance to traditional materials. More on BGA bricks

Wood Waste Market Research Could Benefit Illinois Business

bacteriaThe U.S. Forestry Service (USFS) has engaged sustainability experts at the University of Illinois, Western Illinois University (WIU), and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus to investigate the use of wood waste by businesses as a cheaper and renewable source of heat energy. More on using wood waste

Exploratory Study on Gasification of Pelletized Grassy Biomass

biomass gassification system used in this researchISTC has published a report in its Technical Report series (TR-054) for a project that it funded titled “Exploratory Study on Gasification of Pelletized Grassy Biomass” by Peter Ping Liu and Jerry Cloward of Eastern Illinois University.   The project studied the characteristics of grassy biomass (switchgrass) pellets in terms of their gasification behavior and identified realistic operation conditions for those grasses, either native or readily available in the State of Illinois. The study will help provide background information as Illinois embraces more and better uses of renewable biomass resources grown in the region.

IL Green Office Challenge logo The winners of the Illinois Green Office Challenge will be announced at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 11 in Champaign. The friendly competition among business, school and agency office buildings empowers people to achieve energy and water conservation and waste reduction. It aims to make Illinois more livable, sustainable, and prosperous.

Cook County Industrial Facilities to Benefit from a Consortium of Sustainability Experts

E3-Economy,  Energy, and EnvironmentDuring 2015, industrial facilities in Cook County will have the opportunity to become more competitive, thanks to an alliance of technical assistance and economic development organizations.  Companies will have free access to a range of talent from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center, ComEd, Cook County, Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, and Calumet Area Industrial Commission. The program will include waste to profit and E3-Economy, Energy, and Environment approaches to sustainable manufacturing. In 2013, similar technical assistance services were offered to facilities in DuPage County. Among the reductions: 1.2 million kWh of electricity, 1.8 million gallons of water, 87,830 gallons of hazardous wastes.

Indoor Air Quality Studies Promote Human Health in Alaska

Varities of Common CookstovesThe Center's Indoor Climate Research and Training group is working with the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority in Southeast Alaska to perform measurements that help assess how indoor and neighborhood air pollution are affected by burning solid fuel for heating. More on indoor air quality research

Sketch of a faucet with water flowing out to form the word 'one' for the one billion gallon water challengeBillion Gallon Water Challenge

ISTC and the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) are partnering to train college faculty and staff to conduct water audits on their campuses, increasing knowledge about water use on college campuses as part of a new research grant to IGEN entitled “Water Use and Conservation on Illinois College Campuses: The Ripple Effect”. This project will further ISTC's goal of reducing water consumption in Illinois by one billion gallons as part of its One Billion Gallon Water Challenge efforts. In the first phase of a three-phase program, IGEN co-hosted a webinar with ISTC to educate interested colleges on the basics of water audits.

Prairie Research Institute Research Touted at Environment Conference in Washington D.C.

Video stillA video overview of applied research activities at the Prairie Research Institute premiered this week during the National Council for Science and the Environment’s (NCSE) Conference on Energy and Climate Change, January 27-29 in Washington, D.C. It outlines the capabilities of the Institute’s five units for applied research on the prediction, mitigation, and adaptation to climate change. The event, also known as the 15th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment, was held in advance of the November 30 - December 11, 2015, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. Click here to view the seven minute video.

button links to news digest which a list of archived news stories about ISTC

button links to the 2014 annual report at screen resolution
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Researcher Spotlight

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    Dr. B.K. Sharma
    Senior Research Engineer

    Dr. Sharma has published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers and recently applied for his fifth U.S. patent.

    He investigates the thermo-chemical conversion of waste materials to petroleum crude oil equivalents and their upgradation to diesel-like products. Through this process, he is able to generate valuable products from waste plastics, agricultural residues (corn stover), food waste (coffee grounds, vegetable oils, soapstocks), and energy crops (algae, Miscanthus, switchgrass). He also works on the synthesis of new lubricant additives and formulations, analytical methods development for lubricant base oils, asphalt binders, and petroleum heavy residue, as well as models for lubricant and bitumen property predictions.

    Dr. Sharma received dual BS degrees as well as a MS in Organic Chemistry at Kurukshetra University (India). He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Petroleum/H.N.B. Garhwal University. He did his post-doc work at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, and Penn State University.

    He has previously worked as Visiting Research Chemist at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization-Agricultural Research Service-USDA, Peoria, IL, and at Penn State University.

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