ISTC in the News

An international group of scientists led by a pair of Grand Valley researchers is exploring the biological and chemical impact of microplastics in a West Michigan lake.

Alan Steinman, the Allen and Helen Hunting director of Grand Valley's Annis Water Resources Institute, is leading an exploratory research study to find out what kinds of toxic chemicals and bacteria are attracted to tiny pieces of plastic that are increasingly being found in lakes and oceans worldwide.

Steinman is assisted in his research by Maggie Oudsema, research assistant in his lab at AWRI. Chemical analysis for the project is being completed by John Scott, senior analytical chemist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Plastic to fuel projects are beginning to gain traction in the energy industry, with rising awareness of the prolific environmental damage caused by single-use plastics and people's insufficient recycling habits leading researchers to turn to alternative disposal methods for our mounting plastic output. Research by ISTC scientists BK Sharma and Kishore Rajagopalan is featured in the article.
A proposal passed by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) to study chemicals found in wastewater effluent and recommended remediation efforts was signed into law on Friday.

Morrison's new law, contained in House Bill 5741, requires the Prairie Research Institute to conduct a research study to identify chemicals recognized as contaminants of emerging concern by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in wastewater effluent. The study will also produce recommended actions to address the environmental or public health concerns associated with each chemical.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center will be conducting the study.

Chicago's manmade North Branch Canal is polluted and lacks natural habitat. Enter 80 coconut-fiber "islands" that host wildlife and filter the water. ISTC's Wei Zheng provides scientific expertise about how plants help remove contaminants from polluted water.
Gillian Flippo, an intern with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, recaps the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's recent Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference.

Carter O'Brien, chair of the Green Team at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural Sciences, will be presenting a seminar to students and faculty on institutionalizing sustainability.

"My goal is to give students at the University of Illinois sort of an exposure to a lot of the things (they) might be learning about in school," O'Brien said.

Natalie Kenny Marquez of Urbana Public Television's program "It's All About U" takes a trip to the Illini Gadget Garage.
The conference organizers - the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois - are requesting abstract submissions for oral and poster presentations at the Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference (ECAEC18) to be held on June 5-6, 2018, at the I-Hotel in Champaign, IL.

Presentations will be accepted on the latest in emerging contaminant research, policies, outreach, and education. A special session will focus on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which includes perfluorooctyl sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Researchers, educators, businesses, government officials, regulatory agencies, policy makers, outreach and extension professionals, environmental groups, members of the general public, and medical, veterinary, and public health professionals are encouraged to submit abstracts.

Oral presentation abstracts are due on March 12, 2018.

Poster presentation abstracts are due on April 16, 2018.

Fuels that are produced from nonpetroleum-based biological sources may become greener and more affordable, thanks to research performed at the University of Illinois' Prairie Research Institute that examines the use of a processing catalyst made from palladium metal and bacteria.