Day: October 12, 2020

Webinar: The Role of Reverse Osmosis in Dairy Production

October 22, 2020, 1 pm CDT
Register here.

Spiral wound reverse osmosis and nanofiltration elements have been critical technologies in producing dairy ingredients for well over thirty years. While some streams were considered waste from dairies 30-40 years ago, innovations in technology have allowed these streams to be converted into valuable products. This has led to a growing market demand for products such as whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Through the years innovations in reverse osmosis (RO) elements have played a large role in making dairies more profitable while also improving the quality of the products and helping the markets to grow.

Learning Objectives: 

  • General knowledge of RO membrane and considerations for selecting the ideal element.
  • Understand the innovations that have moved the industry forward in both profitability and product quality.
  • Current trends in RO technology for improving quality, speed of processing, and profitability.
  • How RO technology is used in several dairy applications.

Caseyville Wastewater Treatment Plant saves energy, money with ISTC assessment and Ameren Illinois incentives

The Caseyville Township Water Reclamation Facility recently received a free facility assessment through Illinois EPA’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Energy Assessment Program. The program is a partnership between Illinois EPA, ISTC, and the University of Illinois’ Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC).

ISTC conducted the assessment in July 2019 and identified several ways to reduce energy use, including upgrading to LED lighting and  installing variable frequency drives on blower motors. The plant used Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program incentives to help fund the upgrades.

Altogether, the lighting and motor upgrades will reduce the township’s energy use by more than 2.3 million kilowatt-hours every year and deliver six-figure savings in annual energy costs.

Read the full Ameren Illinois case study detailing the upgrades.

This post originally appeared on the ISTC Blog. Read the original post.

Utility carbon reduction actions lag net zero targets, but there’s time to catch up, Deloitte finds

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

Investor-owned utilities that have committed to net-zero or carbon-free electricity goals by 2050 are behind in that pursuit and not yet taking steps to close the gap, according to a new report from Deloitte.

But current circumstances are advantageous for utilities to focus on transitioning to renewables, the report said. “Conditions are currently in place for utilities to … close most of the fossil fuel retirement and renewables addition gaps over the next decade,” said Kate Hardin, executive director for the Deloitte Research Center for Energy & Industrials and a co-author of the report.

Hardin said environmental stewardship and profit maximization used to involve a tradeoff when coal was the lowest-cost energy resource, but that no longer applies. “It’s now increasingly cheaper to build new renewables-plus-storage than to continue operating many coal plants,” she said.

California’s solar energy gains go up in wildfire smoke

Read the full story at The Verge.

Smoke from California’s unprecedented wildfires was so bad that it cut a significant chunk of solar power production in the state. Solar power generation dropped off by nearly a third in early Septemberas wildfires darkened the skies with smoke, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

With reusable beauty products, brands seek to offer more sustainable solutions

Read the full story at Glossy.

The sustainable beauty category is increasingly evolving and finding new areas to disrupt routine habits. This time, it’s in the form of reusable products and the elimination of single-use items.

Carbon offset market progresses during coronavirus

Read the full story in the Financial Times.

Critics demand more fixes after unexpected boost from corporate demand and high-profile initiatives.

Sustainability’s New Normal in a Post-Pandemic World

Read the full story at National Real Estate Investor.

Today, as we watch the slow return to offices, shopping, entertainment and other indoor spaces, there’s a greater reliance on the building environment to ensure—to the extent possible—our health and safety. The conversation now includes introducing more outdoor air into our properties, filtering that air effectively, and ensuring that air exchanges occur more frequently.

Land O’Lakes aids Kansas farmers with ag tech, services

Read the full story in The Hutchinson News.

For many farmers, changing methods is difficult. But for Jed Fleske, of Fleske Farms in Larned, innovation is key to growth.

Fleske grows corn, milo and soy beans on his family farm. Last year, he became part of a test pilot program. As soon as he heard about an innovative crop research initiative his co-op was involved with, he signed on the dotted line.

Two years ago, Great Bend Cooperative partnered with Truterra, the sustainability solutions business of Land O’Lakes, to provide customers with access to agricultural technology and services. These services are available free-of-charge. Essentially, this initiative provides the farmer, with the help of their co-op’s agronomist, a detailed blueprint of what practices work or do not work on their land.

Exporting clean energy: a simple step to help the environment

Read the full story in The Hill.

China is planning to construct 1,600 coal plants in over 60 countries. These coal projects will be built by Chinese firms and are planned for populations much larger than their respective current populations, creating a long-term dependence on Chinese coal supplies around the world. This is both a political and environmental threat, especially as China is expected by 2030 to cause over 30 percent of global emission.

To combat this, the U.S. needs to lead the charge in exporting clean energy technology and natural resources around the world. We have already used these two tools to reduce emissions domestically. In fact, from 2005 to 2017 America cut emissions by more than the next dozen reducing countries combined. Congress needs to support private sector leadership to reduce emissions, which is why I have introduced two common-sense bills to speed up the process of exporting U.S. technology.

California wildfires pass 4 million acres burned, doubling previous record – that’s a lot of toxic smoke

Wildfire smoke turned the San Francisco sky orange in the middle of the day in early September. Ray Chavez/Medianews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

by Joshua S. Fu (University of Tennessee)

When you breathe in smoke from a wildfire, you’re probably inhaling more toxic chemicals than you realize.

Pollution from power plants and vehicles, pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals in waste can all make their way into trees and plants. When those trees and plants burn, chemicals are released along with health-harming particulate matter in the smoke, gas and ash. Burning buildings add more chemicals to the mix.

Millions of people have been breathing that smoky air this year as the western U.S. experiences another extreme fire year. By Oct. 4, more than 4 million acres had burned in California in 2020, doubling the state’s previous season record set in 2018, and several weeks of wildfire risk were still ahead.

As an engineer and scientist who studies air pollution, I have been looking into how those chemicals compound the health effects of particulate matter from fires to create respiratory and cardiovascular problems, including asthma and cardiac arrest. To understand the risks, it helps to understand what chemicals people are breathing and how those chemicals get into smoke in the first place. Here are answers to four key questions.

How do chemicals get into wildfire smoke?

Several factors affect the toxicity of wildfire smoke. These include the type of fuel that is burning, the fire conditions, such as whether it is smoldering or burning, and the distance between the wildfire and the person breathing the smoke, as well as how long that person is exposed.

The chemicals involved also make a difference. The chemicals that end up in wildfire areas can come from fertilizers and pesticides from farms, waste and sewage from factories and communities, vehicle exhaust and many other sources. It’s well known that trees absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air. But ground-level pollution can also be decomposed by microorganisms in the soil and taken up through the roots. And chemicals from pesticides or fertilizers can collect on leaves and plants, as can particulate matter from vehicles and factories.

When trees and plants burn, chemical reactions create and release many different pollutants that are harmful to human health. Among them:

  • Carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides have been associated with respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
  • Volatile organic compounds like benzene, cresols, diphenyl, hydrogen cyanide, naphthalene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can cause difficulty breathing, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and corneal damage. Most of these are not regularly monitored, even during wildfires.
  • Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, is one of the biggest wildfire concerns in terms of health, and the most prevalent. The tiny particles become suspended in the air and can penetrate deep into the lungs. Depending on the dose, frequency and duration, the inhaled particles can cause conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and heart failure. Epidemiological studies have connected exposure to PM2.5 in wildfire smoke to early death, respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

When the materials in homes and other buildings burn, that adds more unhealthy pollutants to the mix.

A firefighter walks near the smoldering remains of homes during a fire that reached San Bernadino, California, in 2019.
Wildland firefighters’ frequent exposure to smoke raises their risks of health damage. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

These pollutants are not only harmful for sensitive groups, such as older people, young children and people with chronic diseases; they are also a risk for firefighters who are exposed to the smoke day after day.

What we do not yet know is the level of health effects from many of those chemicals and pollutants, such as benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and hydrogen cyanide, that are not regularly monitored the way ozone and PM2.5 are.

Is smoke that travels long distances still harmful?

Air pollutants can travel hundreds of miles, and wildfire smoke can affect people even if it isn’t visible.

Wildfire smoke can also grow more toxic as it ages, creating a higher risk for people downwind. When smoke is in the air, its particles chemically react with other molecules through oxidation, creating more reactive compounds called free radicals that can damage human cells. Researchers in Europe found the toxicity doubled within about five hours and became as much as four times more potent over time.

The fine particulate matter in wildfire smoke is easily inhaled deep into the lungs and embedded in the tiny air sacs there called alveoli. It can cause inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to lung damage and worsening of various respiratory diseases, including asthma.

Satellite image of smoke from wildfires.
Smoke from California’s wildfires reached across the country in mid-September. NASA Worldview

Why does wildfire smoke worsen asthma?

When there are enough wildfire smoke particles in the air, human airways are prone to inflammation. That’s a problem for people with asthma.

Asthma is characterized by chest tightness and pain, cough, fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and wheezing.

In a recent study, my colleagues and I used chemical transport models, remote sensing and ground measurements to separate PM2.5 in wildfire smoke from PM2.5 from other sources. We found a substantially stronger association between smoke and asthma than previously reported. The toxicity of the smoke, including chemicals not often measured in ambient air, like benzene, formaldehyde and nitrogen cyanide, likely has something to do with it.

How can people in smoky areas stay safe?

There are several steps people can take to protect their health when the air is smoky.

(1) Pay attention to the local air quality index. Avoid spending too much time outdoors when there is a lot of smoke, and minimize strenuous activities outdoors.

(2) Keep indoor air clean. Close doors and windows when there is smoke, and use a free-standing indoor air filter that can remove particles. Do not increase indoor pollution by using candles and fireplaces, and avoid using vacuum cleaners that can stir up dust. Do not smoke.

(3) Follow your doctor’s advice. If you have asthma or other lung or cardiovascular diseases, make sure you have an emergency plan.

(4) Use an N-95 face mask. If there is a wildfire in your area or wildfire smoke, you should wear a mask when you go out to prevent harmful particles from entering your lungs.

This article was update Oct. 4 with California passing 4 million acres burned.

Joshua S. Fu, John D. Tickle Professor of Engineering and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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