5 things businesses should know about green cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Green cleaning experts see the hypercleaning trend as an opportunity to educate consumers and businesses about healthier alternatives to harsh disinfectants, more efficient technologies and procedures. As both companies and individuals start cleaning everything multiple times a day, they should be more concerned about what is actually in the products. 

COVID-19 forces architects to rethink designs amid requests for touch-free amenities

Read the full story from WTMJ.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced architects to rethink at how they design buildings. As a result, it’s creating big business for companies that specializes in creating hygienic systems, including one in the Milwaukee area.

CyAN App Used for Early Detection of Harmful Algal Blooms in Communities Across the Nation

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Algal blooms with the potential to harm human health or aquatic ecosystems are referred to as harmful algal blooms.  The most effective way of protecting public health from harmful algal blooms (HABs) is knowing ahead of time to avoid water containing cyanobacteria, which is why EPA developed the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network mobile app, an early warning indicator system for algal blooms in U.S. freshwater systems, which allows local water quality managers to proactively plan for cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms in their community. While detecting harmful algal blooms, such as cyanobacteria HAB, is hard to do because most cyanobacteria events are dealt with after the bloom has occurred in response to a visual, odor, or toxin confirmation, EPA’s CyAN App gives water quality managers a leg up to prepare and protect the public. 

The clothing of the future completely dissolves after use

Read the full story from Fast Company.

Fashion is built on cyclical trends. As Heidi Klum famously said on Project Runway, “One day you’re in. And the next day you’re out.” But that also makes the industry inherently wasteful. So what if instead of sending old clothes to the landfill, you could dissolve them?

Scarlett Yang, a recent graduate from acclaimed London design school Central Saint Martins, developed a dress that does just that for her graduate collection. Yang designed an ethereal, sculptural high-fashion dress made from silk cocoon protein and algae extract. The textile is completely biodegradable. While it’s just a conceptual project for now, it points to the possibility of a fashion lifecycle in which garments are intentionally designed to be sustainable.

This Chemical Can Impair Fertility, but It’s Hard to Avoid

Read the full story from the New York Times.

Hormone-disrupting phthalates can be found in everything from plastics and household goods to personal care products. Studies have shown they may be harmful to women’s reproductive systems.

Taking a deep dive into plant identification

Read the full story from Illinois Extension.

It is just before 8 a.m. at Devils Kitchen Lake in Southern Illinois. The mid-August sun is already hot, and a small group unloads their kayaks, eager to get going.

Against a stunning backdrop of towering bluffs, all eyes are focused on the water looking for cattails, bullrushes, hibiscus, or any other plants they could find…

Until recently, in-person Extension programs such as this have been off limits due to COVID-19 restrictions. But being out on the lake in individual kayaks allowed for the two eight-person tours to social distance safely. Participants wore facial coverings when loading and unloading boats.

High-Tech Tracking Reveals ‘Whole New Secret World of Birds’

Read the full story in Smithsonian Magazine.

A study of Kirtland’s warblers found that some continue exploring long distances even after they reach their breeding grounds

Growing degree day calculator provides site-specific weather data

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) growing degree day (GDD) calculator is updated daily through local weather stations for users to calculate projections on crop development and maturity specifically for their location.

The calculator tallies heat accumulation throughout the growing season, comparing daily maximum and minimum temperatures with a base temperature for each crop, above which crops will develop and mature. Daily temperatures derive from Illinois Climate Network stations across the state.

The lower threshold is 50 degrees for corn and 40 degrees for specialty crops. The high threshold for corn is 86 degrees. The GDD values are calculated from Jan. 1 and used to compare the progress of a growing season to the long-term average.

Variations occur every year, and this year, the heat index for the GDD is running slightly ahead of some previous years, according to Jennie Atkins, program manager of the ISWS Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring Program (WARM). Projections of one and two weeks can be used late in the season, for example, to help determine plant growth stages and thereby provide more information in considering when to harvest crops.

The GDD calculator is available on the ISWS WARM website , which also provides a state map of growing degree days. The WARM site requires users to register, but the information is free.

For a regional view of GDD, access the Midwest map on the Midwestern Regional Climate Center website.

Media contact: Jennie Atkins, 217-333-4966, jatkins@illinois.edu

This post originally appeared on the Prairie Research Institute blog. Read the original post.

BGSU’s Farida Selim is developing a new method to demonstrate semiconductor conductivity

Read the full story from Bowling Green State University.

Most of us check our phones and laptops without a second thought of what’s underneath the shiny casing.

Dr. Farida Selim, associate professor of the Physics and Astronomy Department at Bowling Green State University, focuses on those tiny details under the hood.

Developing of a new method to demonstrate semiconductor conductivity, this technology solves a problem that will allow the size, weight, energy consumption and cost of everyday to shrink on devices such as laptops, cellphones, electric vehicles and other forms of renewable energy. In addition to making these devices much more durable and efficient, brand new types of optoelectronic and high-power devices could be developed using this technology.

Associated journal article: Islam, M.M., Liedke, M.O., Winarski, D. et al. Chemical manipulation of hydrogen induced high p-type and n-type conductivity in Ga2O3Scientific Reports 10, 6134 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-62948-2

Department of Energy Invests $72 Million in Carbon Capture Technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded approximately $72 million in federal funding to support the development and advancement of carbon capture technologies under two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). Under this cost-shared research and development (R&D), DOE is awarding $51 million to nine new projects for coal and natural gas power and industrial sources. DOE is awarding a total of $21 million to 18 projects for technologies that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, a process known as “direct air capture.”

“The projects selected as a part of this research will help us develop the technological solutions needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “This is critical to balancing our Nation’s energy use while continuing to lead the world in emissions reductions.”

Through DOE’s Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage R&D Program, the Office of Fossil Energy has a comprehensive portfolio of technological solutions that help keep CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere. Many of these R&D efforts can be applied across both the energy and the industrial sectors.

“The primary mission of our office is to ensure that the United States can continue to rely on its fossil fuel resources for clean and secure energy. The advancement of carbon capture technologies, including direct air capture, contributes to that mission,” said Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg. “Our ultimate goal is to mature these technologies so that they can be commercialized and brought to market.”

Under the first FOA, Capture Research and Development (R&D): Engineering Scale Testing from Coal- and Natural Gas-Based Flue Gas and Initial Engineering Design for Industrial Sources, DOE selected nine projects to receive $51 million for cost-shared R&D. These efforts aim to design initial engineering studies to develop technologies to capture CO2 generated as a byproduct of manufacturing at industrial sites.

DOE also selected 18 projects to receive $21 million under the second FOA, Novel Research and Development for the Direct Capture of Carbon Dioxide from the Atmosphere. These projects will focus on the development of new materials for use in direct air capture and will also complete field testing. 

To view the full list of selected projects and their descriptions, click here.