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ISTC's Triple Bottom Line The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign addresses issues related to pollution, resource conservation, waste reduction and reuse, and sustainable economic development that impact Illinois and the global community. For more information about the Center, visit the ISTC website at

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Illinois Governor's Sustainability Award trophies

Illinois Celebrates a Landmark in Sustainability

Twenty-five Illinois companies and organizations were honored for their commitment to sustainable business and operations at the 30th Illinois Governor's Sustainability Awards Ceremony held Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Union League Club of Chicago. Also keynote talks highlighted the sustainability efforts at two major global corporations – General Motors and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. The morning technical symposium featured important advances in technology for carbon capture and utilization as well as for large-scale production of biofuel utilizing algae grown using wastewater. Tribute videos are available showcasing some of the 2014 and 2015 winners.

Save the Date! The next awards ceremony will be held on October 24, 2017, at the Union League Club of Chicago.

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image of injection well equipment

New CarbonSAFE Awards Target Mitigation of Industrially Sourced Carbon Emissions

ISTC is a partner in two major CarbonSAFE projects awarded to the Illinois State Geological Survey by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop new technologies to mitigate industrially sourced carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. MORE

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ISTC Has International Reach

ISTC has made many recent international connections. These efforts include research on biofuels and alternative fuels and on innovative green technologies for pollution prevention. Examples include:

  • A partnership with the Energy Research Institute at the University of Leeds, UK, in order to advance biofuel production from microalgae. The ISTC-Leeds partnership developed a catalytic hydro-processing step to upgrade the biocrude oil to refinery-ready crude oil that will yield various high quality fuels upon distillation.  The ISTC-Leeds team is also investigating carbon sequestration and the linkage of biochar structure with stability.  They are using nuclear magnetic resonance as a tool to predict the stability of different biochars and their ability to immobilize carbon for centuries.
  • A collaboration with researchers at the University of Birmingham, UK, – under the BRIDGE (Birmingham-Illinois Partnership Discovery, Engagement and Education) program – to further work on upgradation of  bio-oil using novel catalysts and reactor technologies.
  • A project, “Plastic Pyrolysis to Fuels,” conducted with the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), India, which has established a pilot-scale demonstration at IIP to evaluate the inclusion of waste PVC in the plastic stream for pyrolysis and co-processing of waste plastic with petroleum fractions.
  • Director Kevin O’Brien and Yongqi Lu (ISGS) were invited speakers at both universities and companies in China specializing in pollution prevention efforts. Their trip was sponsored by The Electric Power Institute of China and they began the development of joint research conversations on how to maintain reliable and affordable power, while reducing air pollution resulting from large power plants.
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Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable logo

Stopping Pollution: Making the Most of Public Information

A recent report from the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR), directed by ISTC, offers a valuable picture of manufacturing sector impacts, risks, and pollution prevention techniques. The report analyzes data drawn from the U.S. Census and other public sources to provide a valuable regional baseline for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. A second report provides the detailed analysis for the food industry. A recent blog reviews a wealth of readily available data for data-driven pollution prevention programs.

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Fall 2016 Seminars Now Available

The fall sustainability seminar series focused on the theme “Contaminants in the Environment” and included the following seminars which are available for viewing online:

The spring seminar series will focus on “Water Quality Issues.”

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Illini Gadget Garage Logo

Illini Gadget Garage Receives More Funding

ISTC received $10,000 for FY2017 from the Student Sustainability Committee to continue its efforts with the Illini Gadget Garage,a collaborative repair center for student- and staff-owned electronic devices. This additional funding was provided for completion of renovations to bring the physical location into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (e.g., creating accessible parking and entryways). Exterior renovations are complete and interior improvements are well underway to create an inviting community space dedicated to encouraging product stewardship and empowering consumers to repair the items they own, rather than replacing them. Volunteers assist students, staff, and faculty members with “do-it-together” troubleshooting and minor repairs of electronics and small appliances with electronic components. Further details are available on the Illini Gadget Garage blog. Questions can be sent to, and you can connect to the Gadget Garage on Facebook and Twitter.

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clip art pill capsule spilling out chemical structures

What Is New in Emerging Contaminants

The fall Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) consortium meeting was held at ISTC on Sept. 8 in conjunction with a noontime seminar presented by Dr. Diana Aga, professor in the Dept. of Chemistry at SUNY-Buffalo, entitled "Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Research on Emerging Contaminants."  Attendees had the opportunity to discuss their PPCP interests and research results and do networking before the seminar. Plans are being made for the next consortium meeting in January or February 2017 and also for an “Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference” on May 31 and June 1, 2017, in Champaign. The call for abstracts for the conference is open for both oral presentations and posters. Conference registration will begin in mid-February; check the ISTC homepage for more details starting January 15, 2017. Topics will include research, policy, management, outreach, and education concerning emerging contaminant detection, fate, transport, remediation, prevention, or other related areas.

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Steve Cosper standing in front of pull up banners that read Energy, Water, Reuse of Materials, Contamin. each banner has an image related to its word

U.S. Army Lab Engineer Spending Fruitful Year Collaborating with Illinois Peers

Steve Cosper is nearing the end of a busy sabbatical year collaborating with Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) researchers on a range of projects of mutual benefit spanning energy, water, and waste issues. It is the latest highlight of a closer relationship between the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) and the Army’s major research center in Champaign. Read more about Cosper’s sabbatical year on the ISTC blog.

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Brajendra K. Sharma, senior research engineer at ISTC, was inducted as a Fellow of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers at the 71st STLE Annual Meeting and Exhibition on May 17, 2016, in Las Vegas.

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Recent Grants

Laura Barnes, sustainability information curator/GLRPPR executive director, was awarded $137,000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Pollution Prevention Information Network Proposal for the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR). This grant will provide funding for the regional information and networking group through September 2018.

Dan Marsch, environmental engineer, was awarded $240,908 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to continue the Illinois Conservation of Resources – Economy, Energy, and Environment (ICORE3) Program through September 2018.

Lance Schideman, research scientist, received $44,935 through a subaward from Helios-NRG (U.S. Department of Energy) for “Efficient Capture of CO2 from Fossil Fuel Power Plants using Algae and Conversion to Value Added Products.”

Lance Schideman also received a grant for $210, 831 from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago for a project “Development of Scalable Algal Wastewater Treatment Systems for Enhanced Nutrient Removal with Beneficial Reuse of Algal Biomass”. 

Joy Scrogum, emerging technology research specialist, was awarded $10,000 in FY17 from the Student Sustainability Committee for the project titled “Illini Gadget Garage: Education through Electronic Product Life Extension.”

Michael Springman, environmental engineer, received $70,000 from the Illinois Department of Military Affairs for “Development of an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan and Update of the 2010 Pollution Prevention Plan.”

B.K. Sharma, senior research engineer, was awarded $4,000 by the U of I BRIDGE program to support travel and research collaboration with the University of Birmingham, UK, through FY17.

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Recent Publications


S.R. Yates, D.J. Ashworth, W. Zheng, J. Knuteson, and I.J. van Wesenbeeck. 2016.  “Effect of deep injection on field-scale emissions of 1,3-dichloropropene and chloropicrin from bare soil.” Atmospheric Environment. 137:135-145.

R.L. Fishel, J.W. Scott, K.M. Hedmann, and T.E. Butler. 2016.  “Chemical Analysis of the Ingredients of an 1850s Thomson’s Compound Syrup of Tar Patent Medicine Bottle.” Technical Briefs in Historical Archeology. 2016, 10: 9-20.

L. Dodgen and W. Zheng. 2016.  “Effects of reclaimed water matrix on fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in soil.” Chemosphere 156: 286-293.
W. Zheng, K. Wiles, and L. Dodgen. 2016. “Uptake and accumulation of pharmaceuticals and hormones in vegetables after irrigation with reuse water.” ISTC Research Report RR-133.
B.K. Sharma and G. Biresaw (Eds.). Environmentally Friendly and Biobased Lubricants. 2016. ISBN: 9781482232028
K. O’Brien, Y. Lu, V. Patel, S. Greenberg, R. Locke, M. Larson, K. Krishmurthy, M. Byron, J. Naumovitz, D. Guth, and S. Bennett, “Creating markets for captured carbon: Retrofit of Abbott Power Plant and Future Utilization of Captured CO2.” Energy Procedia, in press.

ISTC Research & Technical Report series

RR-133: Uptake and Accumulation of Pharmaceuticals and Hormones in Vegetables after Irrigation with Reuse Water by W. Zheng, K. Wiles, and L. Dodgen.
TR-063: Improving Household Hazardous Waste Collection Options for East Central Illinois by S. Monte, B. Bartels, D. Sreedhar, and J. Gopal.

ISTC Fact Sheets & Case Studies

TN16-128 Fact Sheet: LED Lighting
TN16-127 Case Study: Sustainability Certification (SGP) – GFX International
TN16-126 Illinois Governor's Sustainability Award Winner: Hoffer Plastics, Inc.
TN16-125 Case Study: Spraying Systems Co.
TN16-124 2014 Illinois Governor's Sustainability Award Winner: Thomason Machine Works, Inc.

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