ENVIRONMENT / SUSTAINABILITY

06-en-environmentLow-cost energy is vital to the sustained growth of the GDP of nations and regions. At the same time, it is critical that this growth not result in negative impacts to the environment. This negative impact will eventually impede GDP growth and dampen the resilience of communities. For example, rising health-care costs can erode the beneficial impacts of increased GDP. Negative environmental impacts are most often born by the lower-income and underprivileged within society — hence environmental injustice. It is vital that energy solutions are designed to have a sustainability component to assure that communities and regions remain resilient.

 

Areas of Research Focus

The University of Illinois is dedicated to holistic approaches to energy that meet the Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit). We consider full life cycle analysis (LCA) to assure that solutions are truly sustainable in nature. Our work spans the entire spectrum of research, development, and deployment. The University’s capabilities and resources enable the transition of new technologies from the bench-scale to the large pilot-scale. This continuum includes high-performance computing capabilities for modeling to field testing at University and non-University based locations. We work with internally and externally developed technologies to provide solutions that encompass not only technical needs, but also address policy and regulatory requirements. Some specific projects:

  • Carbon capture from large power generation and manufacturing facilities.
  • Use of CO2 for agricultural applications (i.e. crop growth).
  • Use of CO2 for algae growth and subsequent harvesting for high value feed products.
  • Improving the energy footprint of buildings.
  • Process intensification to reduce overall energy requirements and reduce waste products.
  • Improved management of waste and translation into energy sources (e.g. waste to fuels).
  • Repurposing of waste materials.
  • Fate and transport of byproducts from manufacturers and end users.
  • Evaluation of environmental impact of fracking and other upstream processes.
  • Grid reliability in drought and heat weave conditions.
  • Demonstration of biomass boiler using chopped Miscanthus for on-farm heating.
  • Climate action policies and international policy negotiations.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from land use change.
  • Wind energy and environment.
  • Least-polluting energy solutions for rural areas worldwide.
  • Development of pairs of immiscible ternary liquids, for use in studies of two-phase flows (e.g., oil/water).
  • Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (large-scale carbon storage)

Energy Scholars at Work

(click to enlarge images and view as a slide show; more scholars’ studies profiled on each of the Areas of Excellence landing pages)

Researchers

Jont Allen

Jont Allen

Carbon emissions reduction

James Allison

James Allison

Electro-thermal system design

Narayana Aluru

Narayana Aluru

Electrical and chemical engineering; materials science

Phillip Ansell

Phillip Ansell

Electrical and chemical engineering; materials science

Carl Bernacchi

Carl Bernacchi

Biofuels and bioenergy

Hans Blaschek

Hans Blaschek

Biofuels

Joe A. Bradley

Joe A. Bradley

Product development and design

Patrick Brown

Patrick Brown

Bioenergy crops

David G. Cahill

David G. Cahill

Thermal materials

Ximing Cai

Ximing Cai

Hydraulic engineering

Leonardo P. Chamorro

Leonardo P. Chamorro

Fluid mechanics and thermal sciences

Evan H. DeLucia

Evan H. DeLucia

Bioenergy feedstock production

Ying Diao

Ying Diao

Thermal materials

Nora El-Gohary

Nora El-Gohary

Energy-water-environment sustainability

A. Bryan Endres

A. Bryan Endres

Biomass and biofuels

Scott Frailey

Scott Frailey

Petroleum engineering and CO2 storage

Nishant Garg

Nishant Garg

Chemistry and materials

Andrew Gewirth

Andrew Gewirth

Electrochemistry

Sallie Greenberg

Sallie Greenberg

Carbon sequestration and climate change

Damien Guironnet

Damien Guironnet

Catalysis

Alan Hansen

Alan Hansen

Biomass, biofuels, and diesel engines

Feng Sheng Hu

Feng Sheng Hu

Geology and climate

Madhu Khanna

Madhu Khanna

Biomass and biofuels

Harrison Kim

Harrison Kim

Energy systems engineering

Waltraud M. Kriven

Waltraud M. Kriven

Mechanical properties and materials

Praveen Kumar

Praveen Kumar

Hydraulic engineering

Andrew Leakey

Andrew Leakey

Biomass and biofuels

Xiuling Li

Xiuling Li

Nanotechnology and photovoltaics

Bruce Elliott-Litchfield

Bruce Elliott-Litchfield

Stored solar energy

Stephen P. Long

Stephen P. Long

Biomass and biofuels

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien

Traditional and alternative energies

Roland Okwen

Roland Okwen

Enhanced oil recovery and carbon capture

Donald Ort

Donald Ort

Photosynthesis

Yanfeng Ouyang

Yanfeng Ouyang

Transportation and infrastructure

Arne J. Pearlstein

Arne J. Pearlstein

Fluid mechanics and thermal sciences

Nandakishore Rajagopalan

Nandakishore Rajagopalan

Biomass and biofuels

Tom Rauchfuss

Tom Rauchfuss

Organometallic chemistry for clean fuels

Kent Rausch

Kent Rausch

Bioprocessing

Rob Sanford

Rob Sanford

Microbial ecology

André Schleife

André Schleife

Nanoscale science and technology

John Scott

John Scott

Analytical chemistry and biofuels

Clifford Singer

Clifford Singer

Nuclear power economics and policy

Nancy R. Sottos

Nancy R. Sottos

Materials for extreme conditions

Ashlynn Stillwell

Ashlynn Stillwell

Hydraulic engineering

James Stubbins

James Stubbins

Nuclear power

Rizwan Uddin

Rizwan Uddin

Nuclear power

Al Valocchi

Al Valocchi

Hydraulic engineering

Thomas Voigt

Thomas Voigt

Bioenergy crops

Xinlei Wang

Xinlei Wang

Building energy efficiency and diesel engines

Scott Willenbrock

Scott Willenbrock

Elementary particle theory

Yuanhui Zhang

Yuanhui Zhang

Indoor air quality

Linduo Zhao

Linduo Zhao

Biogeochemistry

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