Climate change linked to fewer bugs, study finds

Read the full story from NBC News.

The research builds on a body of work that has some scientists ringing alarms about the pace of the decline of insect populations.

Technology to absorb CO₂ at power plants is promising

ISTC engineer Paul Nielsen stands beside the biphasic solvent system at the Abbott Power Plant in Champaign, IL.

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) researchers have given the thumbs up to an innovative biphasic solvent system for its efficiency and effectiveness in absorbing CO₂ from flue gas in a coal-fired power plant at the University of Illinois (U of I).

With $3.4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory, an ISTC team sought to validate the various advantages of a biphasic CO₂ absorption process (BiCAP) at a 40-kilowatt electric small pilot scale at the Abbott Power Plant on the U of I campus. The system was designed based on the testing results at the laboratory scale under a previous DOE cooperative agreement.

Previous laboratory testing has proved the biphasic solvent-based process concept and has shown that the technique can achieve greater than 90 percent capture efficiency and greater than 95 percent CO₂ purity and has the potential to significantly increase energy efficiency and reduce  CO₂ capture cost.

From the recent field testing, the team verified that their technology could achieve 95 percent efficiency in CO₂ capture, compared with 90 percent in conventional methods, with a 40 percent higher energy efficiency. The cost advantages have not yet been determined, but previous laboratory testing showed a 26 percent cost reduction. The system has also been shown to run continuously for two weeks, verifying that it can operate under Midwest winter weather conditions.

“The conventional CO₂ capture process has several disadvantages, and our goal was to reduce the carbon footprint and costs and increase the energy efficiency,” said Yongqi Lu, principal investigator. “These energy-efficiency advantages of the BiCAP system, coupled with reduced equipment sizes when scaled up for commercial systems, will lead to reductions in both capital and operating expenses.”

The BiCAP method uses biphasic solvent blends that can form and develop dual-liquid phases during CO₂ absorption. The solvents, which were tested and selected in previous DOE-funded studies, are highly resistant to degrading from either high temperatures or oxidative atmospheres. Also, less solvent is required for this process.

Although the focus of the study was on CO₂ capture from flue gas at coal-fired power plants, the BiCAP technology can be used in natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plants as well, incorporating flue gas from natural gas, biomass, plastics, and other renewable materials.

“The exciting feature of this capture technology is its robust nature and ability to be used on a variety of flue gas sources. We are now ready for commercial partners to assist in moving this technology to the marketplace,” said Kevin OBrien, co-principal investigator for the project and director of ISTC.

Preliminary tests with synthetic NGCC flue gas made of air and bottled CO2 gas have been performed on the small pilot unit recently. Results revealed that a 95 percent CO2 removal rate could be achieved, and the energy use only slightly increased compared with that for the coal flue gas that contains more concentrated CO2.

The concept of biphasic solvents was developed as part of a dissertation research project in 2013–2015. From 2015 through 2018, screening of biphasic solvents and studies of proof of the BiCAP process concept were conducted at the laboratory scale with funding from DOE. After that, the small pilot system was designed, constructed, and tested at the Abbott Power Plant with continued DOE support.

The main research team for this project was transferred from the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) to ISTC in January 2022. Now that the team has collected the data, the next steps are to complete a techno-economic analysis, then scale-up the technology for commercial use.

Media contact: Yongqi Lu, 217-244-4985, yongqilu@illinois.edu or
news@prairie.illinois.edu

This story first appeared on the Prairie Research Institute News Blog. Read the original story.

South Carolina wants you to recycle your empty oyster shells

Read the full story at Saveur.

Today, South Carolina is actively working to restore and sustain its wild oysters. To help maintain existing habitats, the state requires licenses for the recreational and commercial harvesting of shellfish, and controls where and when harvesting activity can take place. South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources has also deployed initiatives to recycle and replant oysters shells; its South Carolina Oyster Restoration & Enhancement (SCORE) program operates drop-off points around the state where residents can bring shells to reseed back into the ocean.

This prefab ‘second skin’ makes outdated apartment buildings net zero

Read the full story at Fast Company.

One of the great challenges of transitioning to a net-zero world: a supply of outdated, inefficient buildings, which are a major source of global climate emissions.

What is an access-based business model and how can it tackle waste and protect resources?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Car clubs, bike shares, vacation rentals. As consumers, we’re becoming increasingly familiar with sharing or borrowing goods that have traditionally been owned, examples of what’s known as an “access-based” business model.

Consuming “access to products” instead of the products themselves can play an important role in addressing environmental challenges. However, to meet future environmental challenges, we need to extend the application of access-based business models beyond finished goods, and rethink ownership of goods across the whole value chain.

American Concrete Institute launches new Center of Excellence for Carbon Neutral Concrete

Read the news release.

The American Concrete institute (ACI) announced the launch of NEU: An ACI Center of Excellence for Carbon Neutral Concrete, at its Spring convention in Orlando, Florida, USA.  NEU aims to collaborate globally to drive research, education, awareness, and adoption of carbon neutral materials and technologies in the industry.

Located at ACI Headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan, USA, NEU will focus on transforming the concrete industry into a proactive, unified group actively engaged in developing and employing both existing and new technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete industry. The ACI Board of Direction has approved funds for staffing and initial projects, including research to identify technologies that have the potential to significantly impact the carbon footprint of concrete. Additional core functions include technology acceleration, coordination with ACI committees, technology transfer and professional development, and technology assessment and validation.

New non-English language studies database: increasing the availability of conservation evidence

Read the full story at the Conservation Evidence blog.

We are delighted to announce that we have now launched our non-English language database of studies testing conservation actions on our website. This forms part of our freely available Conservation Evidence resource of systematically-gathered evidence designed to help support conservation management or policy decisions.

Cost, material performance, testing standards present challenges for sustainable packaging

Read the full story in Food Industry Executive.

Cost is the main supply chain challenge impacting the move to sustainable packaging, according to the new Industrial Physics Sustainable Packaging Research Report. 69% of global packaging professionals surveyed identified cost as the biggest barrier.

As consumers continue to move toward more conscious consumption, sustainable packaging is a top priority. However, Industrial Physics found that, while most companies are actively seeking sustainable packaging solutions, they still face a number of challenges.

For tadpoles, what’s in their gut may be key to enduring climate change

Read the full story from the University of Pittsburgh.

A new study shows that climate change could deliver a one-two punch to amphibians by creating hotter environments home to less-diverse microbe.