The sensible, sexy and strange world of carbontech

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The idea of pulling CO2 out of the air and turning it into a product to be sold for profit has been attracting a lot of attention lately, and even a few dollars. And the number of startups working in carbon capture and use (CCU), also known as carbontech, has ballooned in recent years. The Circular Carbon Network, a new nonprofit initiative launched by the XPRIZE Foundation and Pure Energy Partners to catalyze more investment and commercial activity in CCU, has already tracked more than 250 companies in the space.  

Sen. Braun says climate change conversation is ‘polarized,’ forms bipartisan climate caucus

Read the full story in the Indianapolis Star.

Indiana is one of the largest manufacturing and agricultural states in the U.S. And more than 70 percent of the state’s energy relies on coal. 

So it might come as a bit of a surprise that Indiana finds itself at the forefront of the fight against climate change. At least, that’s where Indiana Sen. Mike Braun is trying to take us.

The Republican is reaching across the aisle to team up with Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, to introduce Wednesday the first-ever bipartisan caucus dedicated to climate solutions in the Senate. 

Peoria Park District goes solar on four of its buildings

Read the full story in the Peoria Journal Star.

The Peoria Park District approved at its meeting Wednesday installing solar panels on four of its buildings, a move that could save $100,000 a year over the next 20 years.

These three circular economy principles can help combat the climate crisis

Read the full story at Ensia.

Energy lies at the core of efforts to address climate change. Worldwide, the electricity, heat and fuel consumed by buildings and transportation systems accounts for 55% of the greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet. But 45% of global emissions come from making things, everyday products like cars and clothes, and managing land.

Addressing those emissions will require rethinking how we make and use products and transitioning to a circular economy, according to a new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK-based nonprofit that promotes the circular economy, and Material Economics, a consulting firm based in Sweden.

PFAS Are Here: First Round of Results Show PFAS in California Drinking Water Supply Wells

Read the full post from JD Supra.

Results from the first phase of sampling drinking water supply wells for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were recently published by the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and show reportable levels at approximately 190 or 35% of the 570 wells tested.

We mapped how food gets from farms to your home

Read the full story in The Conversation.

My team at the University of Illinois just developed the first high-resolution map of the U.S. food supply chain.

Our map is a comprehensive snapshot of all food flows between counties in the U.S. – grains, fruits and vegetables, animal feed, and processed food items.

To build the map, we brought together information from eight databases, including the Freight Analysis Framework from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which tracks where items are shipped around the country, and Port Trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which shows the international ports through which goods are traded.

We also released this information in a publicly available database.

Book review: Putting the ‘I’ in science

Read the full story in Nature.

Chris Lintott’s chronicle of the booming citizen-science project Zooniverse is inspirational, finds Michael West.

To aid cleanup efforts, study looks at how toxic PFAS move through soil

Read the full story in the Southern Maryland Chronicle.

Brian Shedd has been spending time this year in a musty old brick building on Baltimore’s waterfront, where he’s hoping to unlock the secrets of a troublesome family of toxic chemicals contaminating water supplies across the United States.

Shedd, a geologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District, set up a laboratory in the 19th-century structure, which once served as a guardhouse and ordnance storehouse on the grounds of Fort McHenry, the historic harbor fortress that played a starring role in the War of 1812.

There, in a small compound just outside the walls of the national historic monument, the Corps’ Baltimore District docks a small fleet of vessels used to survey shipping channels and clean up floating debris, among other tasks.

For Shedd, it offered a great location for studying per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. That’s because it was built long before the 1950s when the chemicals began being manufactured for use in a host of consumer and industrial products. Thus, the site was relatively free of the contamination that has since increasingly turned up in many places — including drinking water, foods, and people’s bodies.

Plastic bottles vs. aluminum cans: who’ll win the global water fight?

Read the full story from Reuters.

Global bottled water giants are ramping up trials of easily recyclable aluminum cans to replace plastic that pollutes the world’s seas. Sound like a slam-dunk for the environment? Not entirely.

Funding: Environmental Research & Education Foundation – Waste Management Practices

Deadline: December 1, 2019 (Pre-proposals) – 4:00 PM CST

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation provides funding for scientific research on, and educational initiatives related to, waste management practices.

To that end, EREF invites applications for projects and research that address any areas of integrated solid waste management, with a focus on research that increases sustainable solid waste management practices. The following areas will be considered:

  • waste minimization;
  • recycling;
  • waste conversion to energy biofuels, chemicals, or other useful products (including waste-to-energy, anaerobic digestion, composting, and other thermal or biological conversion technologies);
  • strategies designed to promote diversion to higher and better uses (e.g., organics diversion, market analysis, optimized material management, logistics, etc.); and
  • landfilling.

Previously awarded grants have ranged from $15,000 to more than $500,000, with the average in recent years approximately $160,000 over two years.

EREF’s definition of solid waste includes municipal solid waste (e.g., residential, commercial, institutional); construction and demolition debris; certain industrial wastes (e.g., exploration and production waste, coal ash); and other wastes typically managed by the solid waste industry or generated by the public not included in the above items (e.g., electronic waste, disaster debris, etc).

Eligible applicants include U.S. or non-U.S.-based institutions. Proposals will be accepted from non-academic institutions provided the principal investigators are qualified to conduct the research. Principal investigators (PI) may include full-time faculty at academic institutions, postdoc employees, and principals or senior personnel at non-academic institutions.

Pre-proposals will be accepted starting fifteen days prior to the deadline date and up to the close of business (4:00 p.m. CST) on the deadline date. After review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal.

See the Environmental Research & Education Foundation website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.