Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

Champaign, IL, United States

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

Champaign, IL, United States
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News Article | April 17, 2017

Waste diversion is an essential goal for labs and cleanrooms, as well as virtually every other kind of facility. It can be achieved through a variety of ways, such as source reduction, reuse, composting and recycling. In 2014, more than 89 million tons of municipal solid waste were recycled and composted, providing an annual reduction of over 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, comparable to the annual emissions from over 38 million passenger cars, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The benefits of recycling are well known: •    Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators •    Conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals •    Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials •    Saves energy •    Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change •    Helps sustain the environment for future generations As recycling becomes the norm, rather than the exception, in labs and cleanrooms, facilities are getting pretty good at recycling primary commodities such as cardboard, paper, plastic and aluminum. But to get to a higher level of diversion and potentially reach the holy grail of zero waste, other non-traditional or secondary commodities must also be diverted from landfill, and recycled and repurposed into usable products and durable goods. Glove and apparel recycling is a relatively new form of recycling that is beginning to gain traction in lab and cleanroom settings. In 2011, Kimberly-Clark Professional launched The RightCycle Program, the first large-scale recycling effort for non-hazardous lab and cleanroom waste. Since then, the program has diverted more than 350 tons of waste from landfill. RightCycle removes gloves, masks, garments, shoe covers and other apparel accessories from the waste stream. The products are collected and shipped to domestic recycling centers, where they are turned into nitrile pellets that are then used to create eco-responsible consumer products and durable goods. As long as gloves, garments and accessories (such as masks, hoods, shoe covers and hairnets) do not contain bio-hazardous materials, they can be safely recycled and turned into items such as: lawn furniture, flowerpots and planters, shelving, totes and storage bins. It all adds up Gloves are ubiquitous in labs and cleanrooms, and workers can go through several pairs in the course of a day. While this is necessary to protect both the worker and the process, the amount of waste can add up. Consider these statistics: •    One university estimated that nearly 30 percent of its waste stream came from laboratory and research buildings.   •    A University of Washington lab waste audit found that 22 percent of its research waste consisted of nitrile gloves.   •    A University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) laboratory waste assessment found that nitrile gloves made up a majority of laboratory waste destined for landfill. Because of this, many labs are participating in The RightCycle Program. The environmental benefits of glove and apparel recycling programs are evident. They take commonly used and essential lab and cleanroom products out of the solid waste stream, significantly reducing waste generation. Putting glove recycling into practice The University of Washington and UCSC now participate in The RightCycle Program, as does the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at the University of Illinois and Purdue University. ISTC is a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Its mission is to drive statewide economic growth through sustainability. To fulfill that mission, ISTC conducts scientific research and, in the process, uses a lot of gloves. “We conducted a waste audit to see how we could go to zero waste in our own building and realized that gloves were about 10 percent of our total waste by weight,” said Shantanu Pai, ISTC assistant sustainability researcher. “We were already effectively recycling other items—glass, aluminum, paper and cardboard.” With RightCycle, ISTC was able to reach 89 percent compliance for gloves in its labs—even higher than the rate for paper and cardboard recycling. It then decided to take the program a step further, piloting it in the university’s main dining hall and achieving an estimated diversion rate of 90 percent. It is in the process of expanding the effort to all dining facilities and campus labs. In fact, the university has purchased a storage container to house the gloves so shipments can be made just once a year. Since implementing The RightCycle program in 2013, the center and the university have diverted 4,945 pounds from landfills. “RightCycle has had a huge impact on our activities and our sustainability metrics,” said Kevin O’Brien, Director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. “If you ever used gloves as part of your laboratory work, you quickly appreciate the value this program brings from a sustainability perspective.” Purdue University Across its campus in the course of a year, Purdue University uses approximately 360,000 disposable gloves. That’s a lot of trash—3.5 tons to be exact, all of which would normally wind up in a landfill. The university, based in West Lafayette, Ind., has won numerous awards for sustainability. Its efforts extend to many different areas—recycling, planning management, landscaping and green construction. With a diversion rate goal of 85 percent, the university is always seeking new and different ways to reduce its solid waste stream. In 2014, Purdue University added glove recycling to its list of sustainability accomplishments when it adopted The RightCycle program. Since November 2014, the chemistry department at Purdue University has diverted 8,163 pounds of lab gloves from landfills. Michael Gulich, director of campus master planning and sustainability, is looking to expand the program to other campus labs as well as food preparation areas. “Once you address cans, bottles, paper and cardboard recycling, you get into smaller niche streams,” he said. “We have some addressed very well, such as electronics waste and landscape debris. Previously, gloves didn’t have a solution. Anything that increases our diversion rate is good.” Other participants University laboratories aren’t the only facilities that have adopted this innovative recycling solution. Cell Signaling Technology (CST), a life sciences company, uses about 200,000 pairs of gloves each year. Reducing its environmental footprint has long been a core company value, so finding a way to reduce the volume of glove waste was important. CST began researching The RightCycle Program in 2013, and made its first recycling shipment in 2015. The program has helped CST reduce the costs of trash removal and move closer to its goal of zero waste to landfill. “We’re glad to have made an impact on our waste profile and to have our lab gloves repurposed for safe practical purposes,” said Sustainability Coordinator Elias Witman. “And it was fun for our employees to see our recycled gloves come back to CST in the form of a flying disc, which was tossed around after a company meeting.” Since joining The RightCycle Program, Cell Signaling Technology has recycled approximately 150,000 pairs of gloves. “The RightCycle Program is highly visible and practical,” Witman added. “People see it and want to participate. Programs like this can help shape a culture of sustainability in the lab and yield positive impacts for the planet.”

Ramchandran D.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Rajagopalan N.,Illinois Sustainable Technology Center | Strathmann T.J.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Singh V.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
Biomass and Bioenergy | Year: 2013

The bioethanol industry exerts a significant demand on water supplies. Current water consumption rate in corn dry grind ethanol plants is (11-15)dm3m-3 of ethanol produced and (23-38)dm3m-3 for cellulosic ethanol plants. The main goal of this study was to examine the feasibility of use of treated wastewater effluent in place of potable freshwater for cellulosic ethanol production. The effects of using two different types of filtered treated effluent; Bloomington- Normal, IL (Residential type) and Decatur, IL (Industrial/Residential Mix type); on the rate of fermentation and final ethanol yield from a pure cellulosic substrate were evaluated. Characterization analysis of both effluent water samples indicated low concentration of toxic elements. Final ethanol concentrations obtained with Bloomington- Normal and Decatur effluent and with a control treatment using de-ionized water were similar, resulting in 360gkg-1 (0.36gg-1), 370gkg-1 (0.37gg-1) and 360gkg-1 (0.36gg-1), respectively. These findings suggest that with proper characterization studies and under appropriate conditions, the use of treated effluent water in cellulosic ethanol production is feasible. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Yates S.R.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Knuteson J.,Dow AgroSciences | Zheng W.,Illinois Sustainable Technology Center | Wang Q.,Delaware State University
Journal of Environmental Quality | Year: 2011

Soil fumigation is important for growing many fruits and vegetable crops, but fumigant emissions may contaminate the atmosphere. A large-scale field experiment was initiated to test the hypothesis that adding composted municipal green waste to the soil surface in an agricultural field would reduce atmospheric emissions of the 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D) after shank injection at a 133 kg ha-1 application rate. Three micrometeorological methods were used to obtain fumigant flux density and cumulative emission values. The volatilization rate was measured continuously for 16 d, and the daily peak volatilization rates for the three methods ranged from 12 to 24 μg m-2 s-1. The total 1,3-D mass that volatilized to the atmosphere was approximately 14 to 68 kg, or 3 to 8% of the applied active ingredient. This represents an approximately 75 to 90% reduction in the total emissions compared with other recent field, field-plot, and laboratory studies. Significant reductions in the volatilization of 1,3-D may be possible when composted municipal green waste is applied to an agricultural field. This methodology also provides a beneficial use and disposal mechanism for composted vegetative material. © 2011 by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

Drury B.,Loyola University Chicago | Scott J.,Illinois Sustainable Technology Center | Rosi-Marshall E.J.,Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Kelly J.J.,Loyola University Chicago
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2013

Triclosan (TCS) is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound that is incorporated into numerous consumer products. TCS has been detected in aquatic ecosystems across the U.S., raising concern about its potential ecological effects. We conducted a field survey and an artificial stream experiment to assess effects of TCS on benthic bacterial communities. Field sampling indicated that TCS concentrations in stream sediments increased with degree of urbanization. There was significant correlation between sediment TCS concentration and the proportion of cultivable benthic bacteria that were resistant to TCS, demonstrating that the levels of TCS present in these streams was affecting the native communities. An artificial stream experiment confirmed that TCS exposure could trigger increases in TCS resistance within cultivable benthic bacteria, and pyrosequencing analysis indicated that TCS resulted in decreased benthic bacterial diversity and shifts in bacterial community composition. One notable change was a 6-fold increase in the relative abundance of cyanobacterial sequences and a dramatic die-off of algae within the artificial streams. Selection of cyanobacteria over algae could have significant implications for higher trophic levels within streams. Finally, there were no observed effects of TCS on bacterial abundance or respiration rates, suggesting that bacterial density and function were highly resilient to TCS exposure. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

Kim D.,Korean Military Academy | Vardon D.R.,National Renewable Energy Laboratory | Murali D.,Illinois Sustainable Technology Center | Sharma B.K.,Illinois Sustainable Technology Center | Strathmann T.J.,Colorado School of Mines
ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering | Year: 2016

We demonstrate hydrothermal (300°C, 10 MPa) catalytic conversion of real waste lipids (e.g., waste vegetable oil, sewer trap grease) to liquid hydrocarbon fuels without net need for external chemical inputs (e.g., H2 gas, methanol). A supported bimetallic catalyst (Pt-Re/C; 5 wt % of each metal) previously shown to catalyze both aqueous phase reforming of glycerol (a triacylglyceride lipid hydrolysis coproduct) to H2 gas and conversion of oleic and stearic acid, model unsaturated and saturated fatty acids, to linear alkanes was applied to process real waste lipid feedstocks in water. For reactions conducted with an initially inert headspace gas (N2), waste vegetable oil (WVO) was fully converted into linear hydrocarbons (C15-C17) and other hydrolyzed byproducts within 4.5 h, and H2 gas production was observed. Addition of H2 to the initial reactor headspace accelerated conversion, but net H2 production was still observed, in agreement with results obtained for aqueous mixtures containing model fatty acids and glycerol. Conversion to liquid hydrocarbons with net H2 production was also observed for a range of other waste lipid feedstocks (animal fat residuals, sewer trap grease, dry distiller's grain oil, coffee oil residual). These findings demonstrate potential for valorization of waste lipids through conversion to hydrocarbons that are more compatible with current petroleum-based liquid fuels than the biodiesel and biogas products of conventional waste lipid processing technologies. © 2016 American Chemical Society.

Vardon D.R.,Illinois Sustainable Technology Center | Moser B.R.,National United University | Zheng W.,Illinois Sustainable Technology Center | Witkin K.,Illinois Sustainable Technology Center | And 4 more authors.
ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering | Year: 2013

This study presents the complete utilization of spent coffee grounds to produce biodiesel, bio-oil, and biochar. Lipids extracted from spent grounds were converted to biodiesel. The neat biodiesel and blended (B5 and B20) fuel properties were evaluated against ASTM and EN standards. Although neat biodiesel displayed high viscosity, moisture, sulfur, and poor oxidative stability, B5 and B20 met ASTM blend specifications. Slow pyrolysis of defatted coffee grounds was performed to generate bio-oil and biochar as valuable co-products. The effect of feedstock defatting was assessed through bio-oil analyses including elemental and functional group composition, compound identification, and molecular weight and boiling point distributions. Feedstock defatting reduced pyrolysis bio-oil yields, energy density, and aliphatic functionality, while increasing the number of low-boiling oxygenates. The high bio-oil heteroatom content will likely require upgrading. Additionally, biochar derived from spent and defatted grounds were analyzed for their physicochemical properties. Both biochars displayed similar surface area and elemental constituents. Application of biochar with fertilizer enhanced sorghum-sudangrass yields over 2-fold, indicating the potential of biochar as a soil amendment. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

CHICAGO, Nov. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- PortionPac Chemical Corporation was honored to receive the 2016 Illinois Governor's Sustainability Award for its demonstrated leadership in sustainable practices. The Office of the Governor and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center...

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