Author Archives: Laura B.

About Laura B.

Laura L. Barnes is a librarian at the Prairie Research Institute Library, embedded at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and Executive Director of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable. She founded and writes for Environmental News Bits.

Turtles vs. turbines

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

The Ontario Divisional Court has ruled in favor of a wind turbine project that put groups with environmental interests at odds with each other.

On one side is an alternative energy project. On the other is protection of a threatened turtle species and fragile soil.

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Environmental law, Wildlife, Wind


Chemical Engineers Push for Climate Change Policy

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

The Institution of Chemical Engineers has signed the Trillion Tonne Communiqué, a global call to arms from businesses and organizations that demand a proactive policy response to climate change.

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Climate change, Green business


Fieldprint Calculator Updated

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Field to Market updated its Fieldprint Calculator to include a metric to measure water quality.

The new metric from the non-profit relies on a tool from the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The NRCS Water Quality Index for Agricultural runoff, or WQIag, enables farmers to input variables about their field, such as slope, soil characteristics, nutrient and pest management, and conservation practices to calculate impact on water quality.

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Agriculture, Web resources


U.S. Green Building Council Launches Real-Time Green Building Data Resource for U.S. States

Read the full press release.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has launched its new online data visualization resource that highlights real-time green building data for each state in the U.S. and Washington, D.C. The enhanced state market briefs — highlighting LEED projects, LEED-credentialed professionals and USGBC membership in each state — provide green building advocates and the general public a look into LEED’s impact within any U.S. state.

Also available from USGBC is the Green Building Information Gateway, which provides green building case studies, certifications, awards and disclosures.


Sustainability Trends Drive Change in the Housing Industry

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

As home builders grapple with the demands placed on them to develop more sustainable housing, they will increasingly look to their suppliers to help them meet this challenge. Companies serving the housing industry will have many opportunities to help accelerate sustainability. If the housing sector is to become energy and carbon neutral with full recyclability of raw materials, then we need to produce insulation, wood protection, heat reflective materials and other solutions to do this.

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Green building


The Pyroformer: Reforming Low Value Biowaste Treatment

Read the full story at Waste Management World.

Pyrolysis is a process that breaks carbon based materials down by heating them in an oxygen deprived environment. In its simplest form it has been used for thousands of years to produce charcoal.

In more modern iterations pyrolysis can be used to process a variety of abundant biowastes, producing not only solid output, or biochar, but a variety of useful liquid and gaseous products. But as a technology it hasn’t really taken off in a big way. That’s something that the Aston University’s European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) is hoping to change with the development of its new Pyroformer™.

While currently still in development at the EBRI’s new £16.5 million facility, the technology offers the potential to integrate into existing technologies such as Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and gasification to improve efficiency and operating economics. The facility itself has been jointly funded by the University and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and features six research suites, laboratories and technology demonstration facilities.

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Biochar


2014 Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Awards nominations open for innovative projects

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has opened nominations for the sixth annual Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Awards.

The Governor’s Awards recognize advances that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into design, manufacturing, or use of chemicals and materials. The awards honor innovative efforts to design, implement, and promote safer and more sustainable chemicals, processes, and products.

Awards are open to individuals, groups, and organizations, both non-profit and for profit. Entries must be sent no later than July 18, 2014. The awards will be presented at the 2014 Michigan Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, which will take place this fall at Michigan State University.

The program was established by the Michigan Green Chemistry Roundtable to celebrate innovation in Michigan, with fifteen winners having been presented with an award in the first five years of the program.

To find a copy of the nomination packet, examples of past award winners’ projects, or more information on the Michigan Green Chemistry Program, visit the DEQ Web site at You may also contact Mr. Chris Affeldt, 517-284-6851,


Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Challenges Researchers, Businesses, Citizens to Save Water in Every Sector

A Billion Gallon Water Challenge was announced Friday, April 11, by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) to preserve and protect water resources in Illinois.

ISTC has committed the resources of its sponsored research program for 2014 to projects which will quantifiably contribute to its goal to save 1,000,000,000 gallons of water in Illinois. The Center also is encouraging the people of Illinois to join the challenge by making a personal pledge at the Billion Gallon Water Challenge website.

The challenge was announced Friday at the Illinois Water Day Conference on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. This was part of the UN’s World Water Day recognition. ISTC presented posters about their Billion Gallon Water Challenge and their other water use and reuse projects.

The safety and accessibility of water supplies has been cited as a major concern by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The National Academy of Engineering named the quality and quantity of water as one of the Grand Challenges for Engineering. Now the Illinois Legislature has passed versions of legislation that will help provide $2 billion to improve drinking and wastewater infrastructure across the state and are working to expand that program to include urban flooding and cleaning up pollution in Illinois rivers, lakes and streams.

“Even in a water-rich state like ours, competition for this resource has increased, and will continue to increase,” said ISTC Director Kevin O’Brien. “Drought conditions around the nation have impacted Illinois severely over the past few years. We need to pursue every avenue to preserve water now and for the next generations.”

The ISTC research solicitation invited faculty, engineers, consultants and others to propose innovations to minimize the use and waste of Illinois’ freshwater resources needed for drinking, hygiene, irrigation, industry, habitats, recreation and many other needs.

“Technology will play a key role in maintaining our access to clean water, diverse habitats, and economic prosperity,” said Kishore Rajagopalan, Illinois’ State Pollution Prevention Scientist, and Associate Director for Applied Research at ISTC. “Our businesses, institutions and the people of Illinois will also play a key role by adopting improved ways to cut waste and use our water wisely.”

ISTC has partnered with WaterSense, the U.S. EPA’s program to promote wise water use through purchasing, process and usage decisions. WaterSense offers a wealth of information to help citizens make a difference in water protection and conservation.

To take the Illinois Billion Gallon Water Challenge, visit

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Illinois, Water


Biochar can be used to recapture essential nutrients from dairy wastewater and improve soil quality

Ghezzehei, T. A., Sarkhot, D. V., and Berhe, A. A.: Biochar can be used to recapture essential nutrients from dairy wastewater and improve soil quality, Solid Earth Discuss., 6, 1101-1125, doi:10.5194/sed-6-1101-2014, 2014.

Abstract: Recently, the potential for biochar use to recapture excess nutrients from dairy wastewater has been a focus of a growing number of studies. It is suggested that biochar produced from locally available waste biomass can be important in reducing release of excess nutrient elements from agricultural runoff, improving soil productivity, and long-term carbon (C) sequestration. Here we present a review of a new approach that is showing promise for the use of biochar for nutrient capture. Using batch sorption experiments, it has been shown that biochar can adsorb up to 20 to 43% of ammonium and 19–65% of the phosphate in flushed dairy manure in 24 h. These results suggest a potential of biochar for recovering essential nutrients from dairy wastewater and improving soil fertility if the enriched biochar is returned to soil. Based on the sorption capacity of 2.86 and 0.23 mg ammonium and phosphate, respectively, per gram of biochar and 10–50% utilization of available excess biomass, in the state of California (US) alone, 11 440 to 57 200 t of ammonium-N and 920–4600 t of phosphate can be captured from dairy waste each year while at the same time disposing up to 8–40 million tons of waste biomass.

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Biochar, Publications


Recycler Proposes Turning Ag Plastics Into Oil

Read the full story at OBP.

The agricultural plastics recycler Agri-Plas has proposed a plant that would turn its products into crude oil. The move isn’t all that surprising, considering this Ecotrope post by Oregon Field Guide producer Ed Jahn.

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Biofuels


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