Death by Design Screening, August 22 at Champaign Public Library

On Tuesday, August 22, the Illini Gadget Garage will be hosting a screening of the documentary Death by Design at the Champaign Public Library. Doors will open at 6:30 PM and the film will begin at 7:00. The film duration is 73 minutes.

 

The Illini Gadget Garage is a repair center that helps consumers with “do-it-together” troubleshooting and repair of minor damage and performance issues of electronics and small appliances. The project promotes repair as a means to keep products in service and out of the waste stream. The Illini Gadget Garage is coordinated by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

 

Death by Design explores the environmental and human costs of electronics, particularly considering their impacts in the design and manufacture stages, bearing in mind that many electronic devices are not built to be durable products that we use for many years. Cell phones, for example, are items that consumers change frequently, sometimes using for less than 2 years before replacing with a new model. When we analyze the effort put into, and potential negative impacts of, obtaining materials for devices through efforts like mining, the exposure to potentially harmful substances endured by laborers in manufacturing plants, and the environmental degradation and human health risks associated with informal electronics recycling practices in various parts of the word, the idea that we might see these pieces of technology as “disposable” in any way becomes particularly poignant. For more information on the film, including reviews, see http://deathbydesignfilm.com/about/  and
http://bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/dbd.html. You can also check out the trailer at the end of this post.

 

After the film, there will be a brief discussion and Q&A session facilitated by Joy Scrogum, Sustainability Specialist from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) and project coordinator for the Illini Gadget Garage. UI Industrial Design Professor William Bullock will also participate in the panel discussion; other panelists will be announced as they are confirmed. Professor Bullock is also an adviser for the Illini Gadget Garage project; see more about IGG advisers at http://wp.istc.illinois.edu/ilgadgetgarage/meet-the-advisers/.  Check the IGG web site calendar and Facebook page for room details and panelist announcements.

 

Admission to this public screening is FREE, but donations are suggested and appreciated to support future outreach and educational efforts of the Illini Gadget Garage. See http://wp.istc.illinois.edu/ilgadgetgarage/donate/donation-form/ to make an online donation and http://wp.istc.illinois.edu/ilgadgetgarage/ for more information on the project.

Bullfrog Films presents…DEATH BY DESIGN from Bullfrog Films on Vimeo.

Webinar, 7/27/17–What the Tech? Learn Basic Electronic Component Function with the Illini Gadget Garage

Computers and smartphones are really complex machines, right? Well, if you know a little bit about them, they’re not all that intimidating. The Illini Gadget Garage (IGG) will break it down for you in their “What the Tech?” series of workshops, providing a basic walk through of different computer components and what they do.

variety of electronic components laid out on a white background next to a ruler for scale

This first presentation, via webinar, focuses on the basic components found in computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices and their functions in making a computer operate properly. Components to be covered include, but are not limited to: processors, hard drives, memory cards, and cooling elements. The Illini Gadget Garage’s Amanda Elzbieciak will guide you through the basics. The presentation will take place on Thursday, July 27 from 10-10:45 AM. (Note that the IGG campus workshop will be closed from 10-11 that day as a result.) Register online at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/331629583625614595

 

This webinar presentation is free, but donations are appreciated to support future Illini Gadget Garage programming. The IGG is a repair center that helps consumers with “do-it-together” troubleshooting and repair of minor damage and performance issues of electronics and small appliances which promotes repair as a means to keep products in service and out of the waste stream. It is coordinated by ISTC as part of sustainable electronics and zero waste efforts, in collaboration with the iSchool and School of Art + Design. In order to pay hourly staff to help the public and train and oversee volunteers, as well as to pay for expenses like utilities, consumables, etc., IGG relies on the generosity of sponsors like you or your organization! See http://wp.istc.illinois.edu/ilgadgetgarage/donate/donation-form/

 

A future presentation will offer hands-on opportunities to dismantle devices at our campus workshop. If you have suggestions for topics for future presentations, send them via email to illinigadgetgarage@gmail.com.

 

Air, Water, Soil: Prairie Research Institute Researchers Host Chinese Peers

 

SoyFace research site

SoyFace studies methods to enhance agricultural yields today and in the face of changing climatic conditions.

Scientists from seven Chinese universities visited the University of Illinois July 11-13 to compare research goals and approaches in their efforts for cleaner air, water and soil.
The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) China Workshop deepened relationships begun in recent years by environmental experts of both countries to strengthen scientific collaborations. The workshop examined environmental concerns about air, water, and soil pollution that are of mutual interest to help solve a wide range of critical issues in these areas.

 

 

weather and air quality monitoring site

PRI’s Illinois State Water Survey maintains one of the nation’s most comprehensive weather and air quality monitoring sites.

The Chinese visitors represented the College of Civil Engineering at Nanjin University, Jiangsu Insitute of Environmental Industry, the College of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tongji University, the School of Environmental Engineering and Sciences of North China Electric Power University, the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Peking University, Chongqing Institute of Green and intelligent Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the School of Space and Environment at Beihang University, and Beijing Dopler Eco-Technologies Co.
The visitors also sampled a number of high-profile U of I research projects including agricultural enhancement at SoyFace (top), weather and air quality monitoring (second from top) and (third from top) soil reclamation (Mud-to-Parks dredging project at Lake Decatur).

 

 

topsoil recovery project at Lake Decatur

PRI’s Illinois Sustainable Technology Center has pioneered the recovery of lake and river sediments (here from Lake Decatur) for use as high quality top soil.

Wide-ranging technical presentations during the workshop included focuses on:
• air pollution modeling, health effects and remediation;
• surface and groundwater contamination and new treatment strategies; and
• soil contamination prevention and remediation.

 

Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin (bottom) welcomed the Chinese scientists, describing the long history of friendship and cooperation between cities and universities in China.

 

 

Urbana mayor marlin toasted Chinese visitors

Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin toasted the success of the PRI/China research collaboration.

 

 

 

ISTC annual report now available

ISTC’s annual report for the period January 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 is now available in IDEALS, the University of Illinois’ institutional repository.

 

The report highlights ISTC’s technical and research efforts during the period. It also provides an overview of the Center’s long running Sustainability Awards program and outreach and educational activities.

Nest-turned-hive requires rescue mission

bees use their wings to cool nest

Bumble bees turned an abandoned robin’s nest on ISTC’s loading dock into  a toasty habitat. Worker bees furiously beat their wings to cool their brood.

 

A valuable bumble bee colony was rescued from the loading dock at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) last week and is now is a colony-in-residence at the entomology lab at Illinois State University (ISU) in Bloomington.

 

John Marlin, research affiliate at ISTC and also an entomologist, spotted the bees making its home in an abandoned robin’s nest on the center’s loading dock. Marlin wondered if they were Bombus pensylvanicus, a once abundant Illinois species that has suffered a rapid decline in recent years.

 

Marlin contacted Sydney Cameron, the U of I’s authority on bumble bees about the find. Cameron was traveling so she referred Marlin to Ben Sadd, assistant professor of infectious disease ecology at ISU. The loading dock was soon to be very busy with ISTC deliveries. Additionally the bees were stressed by the 90+ degree weather and as many as seven adult bees were fanning the nest with their wings during the day to cool it. Sadd packed up the nest and moved it back to the cool Bloomington lab.

 

Sadd identified the bees as Bombus auricomus, not as rare, but still of considerable interest. Inside the nest was revealed seven workers a queen tending to healthy brood cells and nectar pots. The brood was in good condition so he said the colony could continue producing. It is the only B. auricomis nest in the facility.

 

Bumble bee populations are declining all over the country as suitable prairie, grassland, and other habitats disappear in both rural and urban areas, Marlin pointed out. Homeowners can help bees by including native flowering plants in gardens and only using soil insecticides when necessary, he added.

 

The plight of many bee species (there are over 300 in Illinois alone) has drawn national attention, including efforts to list some as endangered. The Trump administration halted the protection of Bombus affinis under the Endangered Species Act in January. Congress is debating changes to the act this summer.

 

 

hive inside the nest revealed

Transplanted to a cool entomology lab at Illinois State University, the bees’ brood was healthy.

Illini Gadget Garage Announces Hours for Summer 2017 and Off-Campus Services

The Illini Gadget Garage (IGG) is a collaborative repair center on the UIUC campus to assist students, staff and faculty with troubleshooting and repair of minor damage and performance issues for their personally owned electronic devices and small appliances. The project is coordinated by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) Technical Assistance Program as a waste reduction outreach project of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI).

 

Summer hours
The IGG has announced hours for Summer 2017. “Pop-up” repair clinics will be held at the Undergraduate Library Media Commons on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Open hours will be held at the IGG’s physical workshop (INHS Storage Building #3) on South Oak Street on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM to 2 PM and on Fridays from noon to 4 PM. A map is available for directions to the physical location: http://tinyurl.com/guv4n9z. Note that hours are subject to change, as staff are working to schedule more pop-up clinics in order to bring services to a wider audience, so check the project web site or Facebook page for announcements.

Image which lists the summer 2017 hours for the Illini Gadget Garage

 

Bring a pop-up repair clinic to your facility
Related to that spirit of expansion, the IGG is now offering off-campus pop-ups for companies and organizations that would like to bring “do-it-together” repair to their site as way to engage employees and patrons in product stewardship and sustainability. Staff will come to your location with the necessary tools, and they can arrange to have your audience fill out a diagnostic form in advance so they can research information on the devices and issues being faced ahead of time, making one-on-one interactions during the event more productive. Off-campus pop-ups are 2-4 hours long to allow sufficient time for troubleshooting, repairs, and any additional research. Note that IGG does not sell parts, but if it is determined that a part is needed, staff can assist individuals in determining the exact models of required parts and in researching ways to obtain the part. Staff can also help individuals identify local repair businesses that could help them address more complex damage or businesses that can accept items for proper recycling if they are beyond repair. IGG can help identify local businesses and/or online vendors for informational purposes only; the IGG does not endorse any external business and the ultimate decision of how/where to obtain parts or services is that of the consumer.

 

A pop-up repair clinic can provide a unique benefit to your staff, and be part of your organization’s sustainability efforts, by creating conversations around the impacts of product manufacture, design, and end-of-life management. Such events also provide empowerment and team building opportunities. If you have questions or are interested in scheduling a clinic at your facility, please contact Joy Scrogum, ISTC Sustainability Specialist, for more information and pricing. Fees are charged to host organization of a pop-up clinic to support staff members time both at the event and for preparation; however individuals that attend your event (e.g. employees and/or patrons) are not themselves charged for the assistance they receive. Off-campus pop-up clinics are not restricted to the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area, but please be aware that additional fees may apply for travel.

View from above showing a student seated at a table working with tools to dismantle and repair a laptop

 

Support IGG outreach in your community or on the UIUC campus
Companies and corporations interested in sponsoring a pop-up repair clinic in their community or at a particular public space are encouraged to contact Joy Scrogum to discuss possibilities and to receive instructions for contributions to the appropriate UI Foundation fund. Additionally, any individual or company interested in supporting IGG’s efforts to provide product stewardship and waste reduction guidance to the UIUC community at no cost to students, faculty and staff may make online donations via the UI Foundation to the “SEI Various Donors Fund,” which supports the educational efforts of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative. You may indicate “Support the Illini Gadget Garage” in the “Special Instructions” section of the online donation form. We thank you and the project’s current sponsors for your support!

Jobs and growth can help halt greenhouse gas

Experts worldwide are meeting this week in Calabria, Italy to focus on ways to deploy carbon dioxide capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies.

 

Kevin OBrien

Kevin OBrien, director of ISTC and interim director of ISWS, at CO2 Summit III in Calabria, Italy.

Today Kevin OBrien, who leads both the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the Illinois State Water Survey, spoke about the opportunities to treat “CCUS as a Regional Economic Development Tool.”

 

The presentation was made at the CO2 Summit III: Pathways to Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage Deployment conference.

 

Reducing CO2 emissions while also maintaining economic growth requires balancing many complex technological, political, and social aspects, according to OBrien.

 

Deployment will bring significant implications for regional energy, water, and transportation, he said. By focusing on job growth and community resilience, OBrien said, CCUS can draw on, and build on, regional alliances for education, business, and community development.

 

The Prairie Research Institute, through its Illinois State Geological Survey and ISTC, have become leaders in the development and implementation of carbon capture and storage. ISTC is also developing a Center for Carbon Utilization on the University of Illinois campus.

 

“The goal is to not only evaluate technologies, but also demonstrate how communities may be able to monetize captured CO2,” said Kevin OBrien. The effort provides a unique opportunity to create jobs and build new markets, he said.

 

 

conference participants

CCUS experts from around the world gathered in Calabria, Italy this week to explore ways to speed the implementation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage.

International Compost Awareness Week and Illinois Compost News

International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW), falling on May 7-13 this year, is celebrated during the first full week in May annually. The event began in Canada in 1995 and has since grown as more and more organizations and individuals become aware of food waste issues and recognize the value of composting as a waste reduction strategy with multiple environmental benefits. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Compost! Healthy Soil, Healthy Food.” Learn more at http://compostfoundation.org/icaw.

 

IL Economic Impact and Market Study
Composting food scraps also has economic benefits as illustrated in a recent report produced by Skumatz Economic Research Associates (SERA). Building on the 2015 Food Scrap Composting Challenges and Solutions in Illinois  report produced by recent collaboration with the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC), Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) contracted SERA to identify the problems associated with landfilling organics, food scraps in particular, and recommend solutions emphasizing the development of the Illinois sustainable food industry. The goals of the project were to examine the influence of expanded food scraps recovery and composting programs on improving the viability of commercial composting ventures in Illinois, drive Illinois-based food production, and enhance the local food economy in Illinois, including jobs and revenues.

 

Analyses in this report indicate that the three targeted organic materials – food scraps, compostable yard waste (not including woody materials), and compostable paper– represent significant recoverable resources. Diverting these target materials would reduce 22% of tons disposed, and 16% of the MTCO2e available from all the non-recovered recyclables and organics disposed annually in Illinois. Using estimates of future prices of carbon dioxide, the value of the carbon dioxide represented by the target food scraps is $54 million – $89 million annually (2020 prices). SERA found that if IL can achieve a 65% organics diversion goal, the state will realize 3,185 jobs paying an average salary of $50k annually, $290 million annually in economic output, $10.5 million annually in local and state tax revenue, over 2 million tons of material diverted from landfill annually, and over 800k MTCO2e in GHG emissions reduction annually. This all makes composting of organics seem like a sound environmental and economic investment.

 

The report recommends a multiyear implementation plan for statewide diversion programs, citing Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) as an example. Recommended steps include: setting a statewide goal for organics diversion; adding food wastes to the existing yard waste landfill ban; adding tip fee surcharges for landfilled organics; introducing commerical and residential a Pay-As-You-throw (PAYT); promotion of urban gardens and backyard composting; grant programs to assist businesses and communities with food scrap composting; organics diversion requirements for sectors generating the most material; measurement strategies; and clarification for food donation regulations and encouragement of food recovery.

 

To download the full report, Economic Impact and Market Study Report: Elements of the Case for Advancing Food Scrap Composting Industry and the Link to Building Illinois’ Local Food Economygo to http://illinoiscomposts.org/images/pdfs/Economic-Impact-Report.pdf.

 

Village of Lake Bluff and City of Highwood (IL) Offer Year-Round Food Scrap Programs
Meanwhile, as part of their celebration of ICAW, leaders from the Village of Lake Bluff, the City of Highwood, the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO), and recycling businesses held a press conference May 10th to discuss year-round curbside collection of food scraps and yard waste for residents in those municipalities.  They are the latest in a small number of IL communities offering similar services. Starting this month, Highwood is requiring residents to separate food scraps from other waste to keep these materials out of landfill. For more information, read the media advisory on the press conference, coverage in the Chicago Tribune on 5/1/17 and 5/10/17, and a document from SWALCO outlining Lake County’s food scrap composting options.

 

Approval for Composting Facility near Des Plaines, IL Moves Forward
Elsewhere on May 10, Patriot Acres, a proposed composting facility outside of Des Plaines, received approval from the Cook County Board of Commissioners. The facility has faced opposition from some residents who are concerned about odors among other issues. Patriot Acres has agreed to offer a complaint line, operate within set hours, and abide by a list of environmental requirements. Approval from Cook County allows Patriot Acres to move forward with requests for approval from the IL Environmental Protection Agency and the Metropolitan Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. To read more about the proposed facility and the debate surrounding it, see the 5/12/17 edition of WasteDive.

 

IL Resident Wins ICAW Poster Contest
Incidentally, as part of each year’s ICAW celebration, there is a contest for poster designs reflecting the year’s theme. This year’s winner is Ursula Gutowski a graphic designer from Niles, IL. You can read more about Ursula and her inspiration at http://compostfoundation.org/ICAW-Poster-Contest. To order a copy, visit the ICAW online store. More information about the 2018 poster contest will be available soon on the Composting Council’s Research and Education Foundation web site.

2017 ICAW poster contest winning design

Small companies save big with tech advice

Technical assistance available for small, rural businesses.

Manufacturers in smaller towns and cities of Illinois can get help being more profitable and sustainable through ISTC’s Illinois Conservation of Resources and Energy (ICORE) program.

 

A model program to provide technical assistance services to underserved rural areas of Illinois has generated $24 million in savings of energy, water, and waste over its first eight years.

 

In smaller, rural communities technical assistance professionals usually have a more difficult time identifying companies that would benefit from their services. ICORE takes a grassroots approach to identify partners and stakeholders with contacts at municipalities, organizations, associations and agencies. Networking at the local level spreads the word of the potential benefits of third-party business assessments.

 

“In big urban areas it is easy enough to find companies that will benefit from sustainability improvements that will save them money,” said Mike Springman, who with fellow ISTC environmental engineer Dan Marsch, have delivered ICORE, which stands for Illinois Conservation of Resources and Energy, services from the beginning. “We wanted to find a way to share what we offer to the whole state, in particular businesses located in rural communities.”

 

ICORE offers customized assessments resulting in recommendations to conserve energy, reduce water consumption, reduce hazardous materials/wastes, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and save money.  At two recent assessments at Illinois food companies, a range of recommendations were identified , such as improved efficiencies in compressed air, process heat, motors, lighting, water/wastewater and minimization of food waste.

 

Caseyville’s AdvancePierre Foods implemented more than half of the recommendations, some right after the site visit. “Very good information and details emerged from the audit, which we are still working on,” said Michael Doeden, plant manager of the company’s St. Clair County facility. “It is a great way to start a foundation for continuous improvement and cost savings.”

 

Upgrading old electrical equipment is saving the company $6,000 a month, Doeden said. Other ideas like metering for waste water sewage credits will be adopted down the line, he added.

 

King’s Food Products in Belleville, Ill., welcomed the assessment for third-party expertise on how to be more efficient. “The assessment … generated a list of task items we hadn’t considered,” said Stephanie Fahrner, vice president for operations. “Overall the project/participation will improve us as a company — through savings, efficiency, and employee and environmental safety.”

 

“This is a great way for your team to see ideas generated, resources available, and training provided to help continuous improvement in a manufacturing plant,” Doeden agreed. “Additionally, E3 assessments focus on economy, energy and environment … which will benefit sustainability programs, people and is a good foundation for business practices, he added.”

 

In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with five other federal agencies formed the E3 technical assistance framework (Economy, Energy, and Environment). One year later EPA started funding the ICORE approach which has taken hold and today has expanded to deliver EPA’s E3 assessments as well.

 

One way of viewing the impact of the program is as accumulated savings which continue to accrue each year. By this measure, between 2008 and 2016, ICORE assistance has made a difference in Illinois totaling approximately $24 million, 160 million gallons of water, 1.9 million therms of natural gas, 209 million kilowatt hours of electricity, 20 million pounds of waste, 433,000 pounds of hazardous waste, and 200,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions avoided.

 

For more information about ICORE/E3 assessments for your business, visit the technical assistance pages at http://istc.illinois.edu/

 

 

Army to pilot ISTC innovation to improve installation resilience, energy security

waste water treatment plant energy recovery

The U.S. Army will pilot a U of I waste to energy system that converts wastewater biosolids to biocrude oil. The design benefits include removal of many bioactive pollutants and a high efficiency of energy extraction.

 

The U.S. Army has funded a project to demonstrate technology developed on the University of Illinois’ South Farm that disposes of wastewater biosolids by turning them into energy.

 

The Army has embraced a range of innovations in its Net Zero program, which strives for zero waste and clean, on-site, renewable energy sources. Two areas where the Army still pays for landfill disposal are food waste and wastewater biosolids.

 

The U of I system will be demonstrated over a two-month period at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland, where Net Zero team members will document the effectiveness of this approach to improve the environmental footprint and enhance resiliency at Army installations. Fort Detrick has been designated to be an Army pilot installation for Net Zero energy and waste initiatives.

 

The pilot-scale reactor developed by university personnel from Agricultural and Biological Engineering and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute, converts these organic materials into biofuels through a hydrothermal process.

 

Instead of expending energy to sterilize and break down organic wastes for landfilling, the one ton per day reactor can produce 3 million BTUs of heat energy, which corresponds to 300 kilowatt-hours of electricity each day. In addition, instead of expending energy to dry the feedstocks, as in most biofuel processes, wet feedstocks are essential to the reaction.

 

“In a hostile theatre, it is dangerous to supply fuel by truck to run electric generators,” said Lance Schideman, the researcher who has led the development efforts at ISTC. “The ability to supply renewable energy on-post promotes readiness and minimizes its environmental impact,” he added.

 

“The system’s small size and portability also make the approach appealing for deployment at military installations here and abroad,” said Stephen Cosper, an engineer with the Army’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory who has spent a sabbatical year collaborating with researchers at ISTC.