Clarkson University Researchers & Entrepreneurs Partner to Commercialize Technology to Convert Agricultural Waste for Energy Applications

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After surveying the state of farming in the United States in 2015, Mitlin and chemistry Ph.D. student Jesse Pokrzywinski concluded there was a glut in milk and related dairy production. From working on a dairy farm in high school, Pokrzywinski witnessed milk being disposed rather than brought to market at a loss.

The researchers learned this was a problem at a national level, with millions of gallons being discarded every year. Over the next two years, Mitlin and Pokrzywinski developed a process to convert milk products and other agricultural wastes into extremely high surface area/low density carbons to be employed for energy storage, CO2 capture and other applications.

Together with Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Mario Wriedt’s group, and with staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Mitlin published a high-profile paper on the material, “Unrivaled Combination of Surface Area and Pore Volume in Micelle Templated Carbon for Supercapacitor Energy Storage,” in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry A, a world-leading energy journal.

Zapping Noxious Weeds On Organic Farms Is Harder Than You Think

Read the full story from NPR.

This spring has been strange in Oregon’s Lane County.

“It rained every day. I’m exaggerating, but only by two days,” says farmer Jason Hunton.

When Mother Nature rears her ugly head, Hunton watches his fields. He farms both organic and conventional land in Junction City, Ore.

“We’re struggling. We’ve got a couple of [organic] fields that have some real thistle problems. I want to get some tarps and solarize it — cover it up and see if we can get that to cook itself in some of the thicker areas,” Hunton says.

Several fields down the road, a tine weeder runs through one of Hunton’s organic wheat crops. It’s like a giant comb, scraping up weeds and bits of wheat along with it.

This is the third time this year that Hunton has tine-weeded this field. It’s an all-day job. In his conventional wheat fields, he can spray once and be done with it.

“We use a lot of steel and diesel to control weeds,” Hunton says. “It’s not easy being a farmer, but it’s easier being a conventional farmer.”

Hunton’s got few options in his toolbox. He can use diesel and steel, walk away from a field or spray it with herbicides, which will wipe out the weeds fastest. But then he’s got to wait up to three years to re-certify that field as organic.

 

Better Soil, Better Climate

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The soil health management system an Ohio farmer practices increases crop productivity, reduces costs for fertilizer and pesticides, and sequesters carbon in the soil. Both locally and globally, he encourages other farmers to adopt his methods.

Arkansas Tries To Stop An Epidemic Of Herbicide Damage

Read the full story from NPR.

Arkansas’s pesticide regulators have stepped into the middle of an epic battle between weeds and chemicals, which has now morphed into a battle between farmers. Hundreds of farmers say their crops have been damaged by a weedkiller that was sprayed on neighboring fields. Today, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to impose an unprecedented ban on that chemical.

Scientists predict a Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ the size of New Jersey this summer

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

An oxygen-poor “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, which can prompt harmful algae blooms and threaten marine life, could approach the size of New Jersey this summer, federal scientists say — making it the third-largest the Gulf has seen. A new forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the annual dead zone will reach an area of nearly 8,200 square miles in July, more than 50 percent larger than its average size…

study published this year found that dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico can cause large shrimp to become scarce and smaller ones to become more abundant. As a result, the price of large shrimp climbs while the price of small ones drops, causing a disturbance in the market.