Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois


Hacker Musician Turns E-Waste Into an Awesome Instrument


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Abstract: We tend to think of musical instruments in fixed terms: that's a guitar, this is a saxophone, that's a synthesizer. Colten Jackson, however, plays an instrument that's hard to classify. The Illinois musician hacked together what he calls the Hard Rock Guitar out of e-waste: six obsolete hard drives, and an old keyboard number pad, powered by an Arduino board. Jackson made the instrument at Makerspace Urbana.

Champaign County (IL) Volunteers Needed for Low-cost Radon Reduction Pilot Study


Contact: Stacy Gloss at

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Abstract: The Indoor Climate Research and Training program of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, in its capacity as a member of the Partnership for Advancing Residential Retrofit team of the U.S. DOE's Building America Program, is conducting a pilot study on radon reduction through low-cost measures. The aim of this research pilot project is to study the impact of air sealing between the foundation and the living space on radon transport reduction across the foundation-living space floor assembly. It is aimed at reducing radon levels in the lowest living level of the house. Basements used as a living level are not candidates for this study. As a part of this study, we are currently seeking homes in Champaign County with crawlspaces or unfinished basements. During this 3 month project, radon concentrations are measured before and after treatment, which involves air-sealing on the underside of the floor and duct sealing. There is no cost to the homeowner. Homes with known radon issues are preferred but not required. Please contact Stacy Gloss at or 217-300-7430 for more information.

Science to solve tomorrow's problems: State research center helps people, profits and the planet


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Abstract: This profile of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center features several current projects.

A minute with B. K. Sharma and Nancy Holm, experts on plastics


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Abstract: On June 10, Illinois became the first state to ban plastic microbeads from consumer products, effective in 2017. Similar bans are pending in the California and New York legislatures. B.K. Sharma and Nancy Holm, researchers at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, talked about how plastic microbeads affect health and the environment in an interview with News Bureau physical sciences editor Liz Ahlberg.

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's One Billion Gallon Challenge Announces First Research / Technology Demonstration Grants for Illinois


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Abstract: Four water research projects were announced Friday, May 30 - the first steps toward a goal of saving one billion gallons of water in Illinois.

Governor signs bill making Illinois first state to ban microbeads


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Abstract: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Sunday banning the manufacture and sale of personal care products containing synthetic plastic microbeads. The new law bans the manufacture of personal care products containing microbeads by the end of 2017, the sale of personal care products and the manufacture of over the counter drugs by the end of 2018, and the sale of over the counter drugs by the end of 2019. Environmentalists have said the non-biodegradable plastic particles used as exfoliants in many facial cleansers and soaps slip through sewage system filters and pile up in waterways, where they suck up toxins and harm wildlife. Preliminary studies in Lake Michigan have found millions of microbeads.

From Trash to Treasure: Recapturing and Repurposing Our Garbage


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Abstract: Closing the loop on waste -- and integrating it with other systems -- may be more than a noble policy goal. In fact, it may make smart economic sense as well.

Composting gains steam in suburban schools, homes


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Abstract: Across the suburbs, food scrap composting is taking hold at institutions and households that want to go beyond recycling. Composting diverts more material from landfills and lengthens their life spans. It also helps reduce greenhouse gases and cuts waste hauling costs. Further, the process recovers more nutrients than sending scraps down the garbage disposal, experts say. ISTC assisted Lewis University with establishing their composting program.

Archived recording available for GLRPPR's E3 in Agriculture webinar


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Abstract: The webinar archive, presentation slides, and list of links mentioned by Myla Kelly, the webinar speaker, are now available on the GLRPPR web site.

EPA Funds University Research on Cleaner Fuel Burning to Improve Air Quality


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Abstract: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new funding for six universities to research cleaner technologies and fuels for cooking, lighting, and heating homes that will help improve air quality and protect the health of Alaska Natives and people across the developing world. Paul Francisco of ISTC's Indoor Climate Research and Training program is an investigators on one of the funded projects," A Global Map of Feasible Residential Solutions, Emphasizing Stoves with Space Heating Uses".

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