DOE awards $2.5 million for direct air capture study at Constellation Nuclear Plant in Illinois

Read the company news release.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $2.5 million grant to Constellation and its project partners to explore the benefits of constructing direct air capture (DAC) technology at the company’s Byron nuclear energy plant in Northern Illinois. While nuclear plants do not produce any carbon emissions, direct air capture would remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, a possible next-generation technology to help our nation combat the climate crisis.

Constellation, the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free energy, will partner with 1PointFive Inc., Worley Group Inc., Carbon Engineering Ltd., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to research the viability of DAC technology at the zero-emission Byron plant.

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.

Study finds ethical and illicit sources of poison frogs in the U.S. pet trade

Photo credit: Devin Edmonds

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

With their vibrant colors and small size, poison frogs are popular among amphibian pet owners in the U.S. Most poison frogs come from legitimate frog breeding operations here and abroad, but some are still snatched from the wild illegally in their native countries, according to Devin Edmonds, doctoral student at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS).

Given that one-third of amphibian species are threatened with extinction, Edmonds wanted to explore the trade dynamics of the widely kept poison frogs over the past 30 years to better understand potential threats.

“During the pandemic when I couldn’t be out in the field studying frogs, I found myself staring at frogs in terrariums and thinking about where they came from,” said Edmonds, who has kept poison frogs since the late 1990s. “Nobody seemed to know, so I started creating a spreadsheet of frogs in private collections to figure out how they actually got there.”

Edmonds collected data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other organizations, as well as from social media groups, Internet forums, and through interviews with private poison frog breeders and dealers.

Edmonds found that in the late 1980s, fewer than 100 people kept poison frogs in the U.S., but today between 50,000 to 100,000 people own them. From 1990 to 2020, the number of poison frog species kept in private collections increased 108 percent to 53 species, and the number of different color morphs increased 766 percent to 355 in 2020. In the past 20 years, most of the imported live frogs came from Panama and Nicaragua.

The proportion of threatened species in U.S. private collections is about the same as that found in the wild. Some critically endangered species, such as the harlequin poison frog and Lehmann’s poison frog, were found in private collections in 2015–2020.

Poison frogs are now readily available in local pet shops, typically for $50 to $100 each. The species more likely to be smuggled are sold for $2,000 and up.

From 1990 to 2005, a small percentage of frogs were smuggled directly to the U.S., most commonly from Peru, Panama, and Ecuador. In the 90s and 2000s, poison frogs were also smuggled to Europe and were confiscated by research institutions that partner with private breeders. Eventually the frogs’ descendants were imported to the U.S.

While the number of smuggled frogs into the country has decreased since about 2010, some private frog owners believed that wild-caught frogs had been imported from commercial breeders in Panama since 2000.

“One business operation in Panama accounted for the largest number of poison frog imports to the U.S. since 2000,” Edmonds said. “Tens of thousands of wild-caught frogs were being exported on paper as farm raised. Panama knew they were being exported and the U.S. knew they were being imported, but the frogs were misrepresented as captive bred.”

Poaching wild frogs can have a large effect on poison frog populations. Overharvesting species can lead to extinction and narrow the diversity of frogs. Also, some of the most valuable frogs breed in tree canopies, so smugglers destroy habitats to access them.

Captive breeding and ranching businesses in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia are designed to compete with frog smuggling operations, with some success as the species and color morphs new to the trade that were descendants of smuggled frogs have decreased. Some of these businesses use profits from frog sales to fund habitat management and protection.

Frogs from these businesses are typically the same price as smuggled frogs and are in much better condition, Edmonds said. With a healthy supply of ethically produced poison frogs, there is not as much incentive for exploiting those in the wild.

Given the many different sources of poison frogs, owners and hobbyists should be aware of where their pets come from, Edmonds said.   

“The overwhelming number of poison frogs kept in the U.S. were probably bred domestically,” Edmonds said. “It is unlikely that you’ll accidentally buy a smuggled frog in a pet store.”

A reptile expo or trade show though may have a higher probability of displaying frogs obtained illegally. The species and age of the animals are good indicators.

“If there are 20 adults of a hard-to-breed species sitting on a table, they are probably coming from the wild,” Edmonds said.

Edmond’s journal article, Poison Frogs Traded and Maintained by U.S. Private Breeders, was published in Herpetological Review in December 2021.

Media contact: Devin Edmonds, 941-210-2009, dae2@illinois.edu
news@prairie.illinois.edu

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

State Geological Survey gives infrastructure solid footing

Read the full story at FarmWeek.

The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) is providing a solid foundation for infrastructure decisions.

ISGS offers an online, interactive map denoting locations of mine shafts, surface mines, underground mines and other subsurface features.

One of the most useful features, the “Coal Mines in Illinois Viewer,” allows anyone to type in a specific address and determine the proximity of a coal mine or underground industrial mine.

Microplastics on the move: Research projects detect microplastics in water and on land

microplastics

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

The mind-boggling amount of microplastics in the environment is becoming a greater concern as early studies suggest serious health effects from human exposure to the plastic particles. Taking these effects seriously, the United Nations recently endorsed a historic resolution to end global plastic pollution, including microplastics.

At the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), researcher John Scott is studying microplastics in landfills, rural streams, and city drinking water to further understand where they are coming from and how they move in the environment.

Illinois landfills and microplastics

Since about 80 percent of all plastic waste is destined for landfills, they are a logical place to look for microplastics. Landfills that use plastic liners underneath the waste piles routinely pump out leachate, the waste “soup” that has drained into the liners. The leachate is sent to wastewater treatment plants, which are not designed to handle plastic waste.

As a result, plastic entering water treatment plants can end up either in the treated wastewater, where it is ultimately discharged to rivers or lakes, or in the sludge, called biosolids. Scott’s team has found that 99 percent of microplastics are in the biosolids, which are typically applied to agricultural lands as fertilizer. This means that microplastics taken from landfills are released back into the environment.

In this project, the researchers hypothesized that landfill leachate is the most significant source of microplastics taken to wastewater treatment plants. They compared the contribution of microplastics in leachate with other potential sources.

Although the study is still ongoing, the significance of this finding is that, although it is not feasible to treat the enormous amount of wastewater that comes into a treatment plant every day, treating the smaller amount of leachate may be an option.

“If our hypothesis is correct, then addressing plastic pollution in landfill leachate may be a more efficient and cost-effective way to reduce its environmental loading,” Scott said. “It’s better to treat the waste further upstream.”

The project has been funded by the Illinois Hazardous Research Fund.

Rural Iowa streams

ISTC is partnering with the University of Iowa and the U.S. Geological Survey in the first statewide assessment of microplastics and co-contaminants in rural Iowa streams. Most research studies to date have focused on microplastics in ocean habitats. In contrast, the research team sampled stream water, fish tissues, and rural sediments for this study. They also examined the samples for other contaminants, such as herbicides and insecticides, pharmaceuticals, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Some of the sediment samples have the highest concentrations of microplastics that they’ve ever seen, said Scott. With the methodology they designed in 2020, they can detect microplastics as small as 20 micrometers, while other researchers are limited to 100-micrometer sizes.

More microplastics appeared in the soil sediments than in the streams and fish tissues.

“Some of the concentrations of microplastics we found in samples were astronomical,” Scott said. “If concentrations for other contaminants approached that percentage level in the soil, it would raise an alarm. Microplastics may not be as toxic as other contaminants, but when there is this much stuff loading into out sediments, the concentrations will get worse over time.”

These findings support the theory that most of the microplastics that go to the wastewater treatment plants end up in biosolids and are released into soils in agricultural areas.

One objective of the study is to investigate the relationship of microplastics to sediments and other contaminants, such as PFAS. Microplastics can harbor exotic bacteria that are much different from that in the surrounding environment. Previous studies have shown that contaminants concentrate on these materials at hundreds of times the background levels.

In addition, studies have shown that microplastics as small as 20 micrometers can be taken up by plants.

“We don’t know if microplastics affect agricultural land, but if we load enough into our soils, it’s going to have some adverse effects, like trying to grow plants in plastic,” Scott said.

St. Louis city and county drinking water  

In a new three-year project, ISTC researchers’ role will be to investigate micro- and nano-plastics and other contaminants in surface waters, water treatment plants, and in tap water samples from residential households in St. Louis. Nanoplastics are particles that are even smaller than microplastics and are not visible to the naked eye or even under a simple optical microscope.

It is known that surface waters contain microplastics, but less is known about water distribution systems in the home and from water treatment facilities. Scott plans to trace microplastics found at water supply plants back to water distribution systems to determine if water softeners, dishwashers, and household plumbing can also be sources of microplastics.

Scott said he doesn’t expect to find microplastics originating from these sources, implying that in terms of microplastics, tap water is safer than bottled water, which contains large amounts of the plastic specks.  

These efforts will be part of a larger project to determine an impact baseline for those contaminants in St. Louis city and county water systems, to survey community members to obtain their perceptions of drinking water quality, and to provide hot-spot mapping and policy recommendations for clean water investments and regulations.

Findings from the project will be provided to local water utility companies to begin to address micro- and nanoplastics in city water systems. Project partners also hope to promote equitable investments in clean water infrastructure.

The project is funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health. ISTC’s partners are Mixte Communications, Waterkeeper Alliance, and LH Consulting.

Because roadways are suspected to be another major contributor to microplastics pollution, Scott will soon begin another project, this one focused on microplastics in Michigan lakes that are highly affected by road salt.

Media contact: John Scott, 217-333-8407, zhewang@illinois.edu; news@prairie.illinois.edu

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

Data from landmark Illinois Basin carbon storage project are now available

Injection start-up day at the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project. Pictured are project principal investigator Sallie Greenberg, second from right, and other project partners.

by Tricia Barker, Prairie Research Institute

The first-of-its-kind Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), which concluded in 2021 after successfully demonstrating the safe geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) at an almost-commercial scale, is releasing datasets in two easily accessible locations.

Complete datasets are available through the U.S. Department of Energy’s EDX site. Curated datasets are also being released through CO2DataShare, an international open-access portal managed by SINTEF.

Over three years, approximately 1 million metric tons of CO2 captured from the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) ethanol production facility in Decatur, Illinois, were injected into the Mount Simon Sandstone, more than 2 km deep in the Illinois Basin. This carbon capture and storage (CCS) research and development project was carried out by the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), one of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – National Energy Technology Laboratory to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of CO2 geological storage as a mitigation tool to address global climate change. The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) at the University of Illinois was the principal investigator for and manager of the IBDP, with the Indiana Geological Survey (now the Indiana Geological and Water Survey) and the Kentucky Geological Survey as key partners. Other partners included ADM, Trimeric Corporation, and Schlumberger.

The infrastructure installed for the IBDP includes three deep wells: injection, monitoring, and geophysical. It also includes 17 shallow groundwater monitoring wells, microseismic monitoring with down-hole, four-component sensors in the injection well, an in-well geophysical monitoring array for repeat plume monitoring using vertical seismic profiling, a compression/dehydration facility, and a 1.9 km pipeline. The available data include information from pre-injection site characterization (2007-2011), injection and monitoring (2011-2014), and post-injection (2014-2021).

“The ISGS continues its exceptional service to DOE and the swelling number of CCS stakeholders here and abroad by sharing the rich data products generated from the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project,” said Darin Damiani, Carbon Transport and Storage Senior Program Manager for the DOE Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. “DOE believes sharing high-value data from projects like the IBDP will help catalyze the growth and safe deployment of CCS in the U.S., as well as in nations looking to CCS as a component of their decarbonization strategy.” 

The IBDP developed and implemented a rigorous monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) program for the captured and stored CO2. The extensive MVA activities include high-fidelity induced seismicity monitoring, 3D seismic surveying, 3D vertical seismic profiling, soil flux monitoring, atmospheric monitoring, shallow groundwater monitoring, and deep subsurface fluid sampling to ensure the COremains safely stored underground.

“The Illinois Basin – Decatur Project led the way in developing and field-testing the full CCS value chain with carbon dioxide from biofuels production. We are proud to have created a project that has produced so much valuable data to share with colleagues and projects around the world,” said project principal investigator Sallie Greenberg.

Researchers interested in full the continuous microseismic dataset (not housed on EDX) should contact DOE NETL at EDXSupport@netl.doe.gov for more information.

An international collaboration between the United States and Norway has also been created to share selected datasets from the project on the CO2DataShare open access portal, including:  

  • GIS and georeferenced Imagery: provides a GIS-based portrayal and spatial archive of the IBDP project wells and the distribution of near-surface monitoring and sampling installations that were present at the IBDP field site.
  • Seismic data: includes IBDP 3D seismic (volume reprocessed), IMDP 3D time-lapse VSP (vertical seismic profile) (reprocessed), and IBDP passive seismic events monitoring (microseismic).
  • Well information: includes data collected from the project’s three deep wells, such as geophysical logs, core and sidewall core analyses, and various well tests. It also includes stratigraphic tops picked from the project wells and representative geologic cross-sections, as well as well design summary sheets and directional surveys.
  • Horizons and faults: exported from the Petrel geological model.
  • IBDP geological model: features a Petrel model containing wells, horizons, and fault interpretations from the project.
  • Technical reports and final project report: includes geo-mechanical reports, site map images, static model reports, stratigraphy, well completion reports, well diagrams, well testing reports and the final report (Sallie E. Greenberg, Ph.D: ILLINOIS BASIN—DECATUR PROJECT Final Report: An Assessment of Geologic Carbon Sequestration Options in the Illinois Basin: Phase III. Illinois State Geological Survey. July 2021.). Other selected reports and outreach materials also are available.

CO₂ DataShare, a platform for sharing CO₂ storage data, was launched in 2020. The portal builds on UNINETT Sigma2’s solution for data storage, combined with a tailored frontend that was developed using the open-source software CKAN.

“We are excited to be able to share the unique data from the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project with the CCS communities around the world,” said CO2DataShare project manager Grethe Tangen. “The dataset complements the published data from Norwegian CO2 storage projects. In particular, the microseismic data represents a valuable addition to the CO2 DataShare dataset portfolio.”

Information about CO2DataShare can be found on its project webpage.

National Science Foundation funds project to improve weather forecasts for cities

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

Scientists at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) have begun a new project that will ultimately improve weather forecasting of severe storms and heatwaves in cities across the US.

In the three-year project with a budget of over $850,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF), ISWS will focus on improving weather forecasts for the Chicago, New York, and Denver metro areas using observations from space and from the ground combined with numerical model development. The goal is to study the chemistry, atmosphere, and human adaptive choices that influence storms and heatwaves over cities.

“We’ve long realized there is a gap in the fundamental knowledge of urban weather and climate processes, as well as our inability to accurately capture the magnitude, intensity, and locations where severe storms and heatwaves occur,” said research climatologist and principal investigator Ashish Sharma. “Weather forecasts can see where storms will occur, but we need to use improved models to understand storms in a better way.”

These gaps can be addressed by developing integrated weather and chemistry models for urban areas through new model development activities and using a suite of observations from the ground and satellites.

“We are thrilled that NSF has supported ISWS to lead cutting-edge fundamental and applied research in urban climate modeling,” said Kevin OBrien, director of ISWS. “This is a great example of how ISWS is taking a deeper dive into how we can make cities more resilient to climate change impacts.”

For this study, the Integrated Urban Climate Research group, led by Sharma, will analyze the contribution of urban surface heat emissions and pollutants to storms and heatwaves, examine the effects of the interaction between the atmosphere and complex urban land surface characteristics, and study the impacts of future urban development and green infrastructure interventions. Strengthening our capabilities and advancing our knowledge in integrated urban modeling will likely improve weather forecasting capabilities for cities.

“This will be the first model development effort to include chemistry-weather interactions in urban climate models. The more realistic that models are, the more accurate they are in simulating extreme weather,” said Sharma.

The project will help city managers and stakeholders to assess environmental risks and vulnerabilities and identify where and which infrastructure choices, such as green, cool, or photovoltaic roofs, are best suited to reduce environmental, social, and health inequities in cities.  

“Outputs from the project will help urban planners and practitioners make decisions that can protect vulnerable communities and restore environmental justice in the Chicago metro area,” said Edith Makra, director of environmental initiatives and the project collaborator at the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. “Urban solutions require money and manpower, so it takes a coordinated effort from scientists and community representatives from different disciplines to solve these types of problems.”

The project team will coordinate with the Chicago National Weather Service to determine how the model enhancements and new developments can help improve weather forecasting and climate change projections for urban communities. At the end of the study, the team will be able to recommend resilient environmental mitigation solutions to the three metro areas. They will also continue to partner with municipalities, agencies, and institutions in the Chicago, Denver, and New York metro areas to share study findings.

The project includes co-principal investigators at the University of Illinois and University of Notre Dame and collaborators at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and NASA.


Media contact: Ashish Sharma, 217-300-8423, sharmaa@illinois.edu
news@prairie.illinois.edu

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

How to make algae fuel and feedstock less expensive

Read the full story in Popular Science

As the US tries to move toward a clean energy economy and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, it seems that biofuels are having their moment. These renewably sourced liquids could be a direct substitute of energy for petroleum-guzzling cars or industrial processes without necessarily needing to change the entire infrastructure of the power grid.

In particular, it seems the government is upping its focus on the green goo that could satisfy some of Americans’ energy needs: algae.

Earlier in February, the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced a new round of funding worth $19 million for projects that can increase the capabilities of working algal systems to capture carbon dioxide. The goals are two-fold: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to cultivate algae for biofuels and other bioproducts.

This announcement builds on previous years’ funding, including a round of grants totaling $8 million released in summer of 2021. Though these numbers pale in comparison to the Department of Energy’s total 2022 budget of $40.3 billion, algae bioenergy seems to be a growing interest—there’s even a new student competition to innovate with the water-based organisms.

Direct Air Capture Facility Development in the United States

As the United States explores the potential for large-scale carbon dioxide removal and utilization, some of the most important developments are taking place in America’s heartland. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (ISTC) is leading a team to develop the designs and feasibility assessment for the first commercial-scale direct air capture and storage system for carbon removal in the United States. This webinar featured Kevin C OBrien, Director of the ISTC and the project’s principal investigator. Dr. OBrien discussed developments related to this project, as well as projects in Illinois that may help to advance the development of carbon removal and use.

Panelist: Kevin C OBrien, Director, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center & Director, Illinois State Water Survey University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Moderator: Wil Burns, Environmental Policy and Culture Program at Northwestern

Divert and convert: Campus project takes plastic from waste stream for fuel production

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

A new Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) pilot project is gearing up to remove 200 pounds of non-recyclable plastics from University of Illinois campus trash daily and convert it to 140 pounds of crude oil to power university vehicles. The project will demonstrate its benefits to the environment and campus and present unique learning opportunities for students.

Behind food waste, plastics are the second largest component of trash that ends up in landfills. From the U. of I. waste stream, an estimated 1.39 tons of non-recyclable plastics head to a landfill each day. In this two-year project, scientists are using continuous catalytic pyrolysis technology capable of producing 80 percent fuels from plastics #4–#6.

“We will be demonstrating the technology for distributed production of the most desirable fuel for use in university trucks and generating data to make a business case for a commercial-scale system capable of using all plastic waste produced on campus,” said ISTC research engineer Sriraam Chandrasekaran, project principal investigator.

The project is funded by the University’s Student Sustainability Committee, which is a group of students committed to building a more sustainable campus. By converting waste to fuel, the project will decrease the amount of trash in landfills and reduce the University’s greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels, as well as the campus’ carbon footprint.  

A critical element of the project is to involve graduate and undergraduate students in all aspects of the study, particularly those in chemical, mechanical, and environmental engineering. This project is ideal for independent study as part of a senior undergraduate program, Chandrasekaran said.

Students will learn about the technology, identify the parameters of the pyrolysis process for producing high fuel yields, and study the effect of continuous operation on various catalysts. Other tasks will include recording data on system operation and collecting and analyzing liquid samples. The research will also focus on different kinds of contaminants in plastics.

Outreach to the community is particularly important for the project. Chandrasekaran plans to have an open house to showcase the technology’s capabilities.

“The main idea is to show the community how the process works and why plastic recycling is so important,” Chandrasekaran said. “We will emphasize how much we can reduce carbon footprint through this technology, leading to a more sustainable campus. Once the process is underway, non-cyclable plastics can be considered and reclassified as zero waste.”

For more information about waste plastics and other projects, visit the ISTC website.


Media contact: Sriraam Chandrasekaran, 217-300-1477, schandr@illinois.edu
news@prairie.illinois.edu

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