Archive for 'Environment and Sustainability'

Natural resources: Support helps faculty become self-sustaining

Posted on 24. Jan, 2014 by .

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When a department hires a new faculty member, funding from the College of Engineering and the UW-Madison Graduate School helps to pay that person’s salary. However, new faculty also need a way to start research programs. Private gifts provide the initial support for faculty startup packages, which cover stipends, scholarships, and fellowships for students to [...]

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Fuel simulation for the real world

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Mario Trujillo confidently predicts that liquid fuels are not going away, but understanding how they’ll behave in fuel-injection systems will become increasingly complex. “There is probably going to be a wide range of new fuels with different physical properties, which means liquid fuel injection is going to change,” he says. “There’s [...]

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Future looks bright for carbon nanotube solar cells

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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In an approach that could challenge silicon as the predominant photovoltaic cell material, UW-Madison materials engineers have developed an inexpensive solar cell that exploits carbon nanotubes to absorb and convert energy from the sun. The advance could lead to solar panels just as efficient, but much less expensive to manufacture, than current panels. The proof-of-concept [...]

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For building owners, IPD is A-OK

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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In America,” says Tom Boldt, “we revel in low price.” It’s true, particularly in tough economic times. We’re a nation of cost- and value-conscious consumers seeking to get the biggest bang for our buck. However, in many situations, the lowest price doesn’t automatically guarantee a high-quality product or a high level of customer satisfaction. Take, [...]

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Innovation lifts limits of landfill liners

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Generally made from bentonite clay sandwiched between textile or membrane layers, geosynthetic clay liners are the “gold standard” for preventing industrial, hazardous and municipal solid wastes from seeping into the environment. Such liners are particularly effective barriers, because as the clay absorbs water, it swells and the pore spaces between its particles shrink. Yet, even [...]

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It’s a collaboration with chemistry

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Dow Chemical invests in university talent and technology In an effort to strengthen disciplines that align with its strategic goals, Dow Chemical Company has invested $14.5 million over five years in research at UW-Madison. Part of a broader funding program Dow launched in 2011 at 11 universities, the initiative combines expertise in engineering and chemistry [...]

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Growing the suite of bio-based chemicals

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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When Steenbock and Michel Boudart Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering James Dumesic looks at a dried corn stalk, he sees the energy embedded within it. For years, Dumesic and his colleagues have made major contributions to the science and process of converting plant waste into transportation fuel. And while renewable fuels historically have been [...]

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Applying aquatic chemistry to solve our water quality problems

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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Guest columnist Christina Remucal is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. She joined the college in August 2012. Water is one of life’s necessities. Growing up in the high desert of northern New Mexico gave me a deep appreciation for the preciousness of water. My family has its own groundwater well and, thankfully, [...]

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It ain’t easy being green: Freshmen researchers tackle tough project

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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The 14 freshmen had almost no background in engineering—nor had they  conducted any research. Yet by the end of their first semester at UW-Madison, they had completed a seemingly daunting project: Coat a small diesel engine with a platinum catalyst, add extra hydrogen to the combustion process, and determine if those changes reduced vehicle emissions. [...]

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Biofuel conversion process cuts costly separation step

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by .

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Using a biomass-derived solvent, UW-Madison chemical and biological engineers have streamlined the process for converting lignocellulosic biomass into high-demand chemicals or energy-dense liquid transportation fuel. Their new method eliminates the need for costly pre-treatment steps that separate hemicellulose and cellulose, two main components of plant biomass that react at different rates. Pretreatment and extraction or [...]

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Gustafson named to National Academy of Engineering

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by .

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In February, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) named David Gustafson to its 2013 class of new members. Gustafson is director of the UW-Madison Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies and a professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering. The academy cited Gustafson for industrial and systems engineering methods to improve care for aging patients [...]

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Jackets for jet engines: Coatings help parts withstand the heat

Posted on 30. Aug, 2012 by .

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Without high-temperature coatings, the metallic parts of a jet engine would melt away in a crucible of 2,500-degree Fahrenheit heat. Materials Science and Engineering Professor John Perepezko and his team have developed a new, molybdenum-silicon-boron coating that could allow engines to operate at even greater temperatures, promising more efficiency and longer life for parts operating [...]

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Chemistry for a cleaner environment

Posted on 29. Aug, 2012 by .

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When Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Matthew Ginder-Vogel joined UW-Madison in spring 2012, he added yet another dimension to the university’s renowned interdisciplinary group of faculty in environmental chemistry. This broad group includes a dozen or so faculty experts in environmental technology, and aquatic, terrestrial and air pollution chemistry. Ginder-Vogel focuses on redox-active environments, [...]

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Digging into energy from the earth

Posted on 29. Aug, 2012 by .

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Drawing on data gathered from a heavily instrumented Adams County, Wisconsin, home, Engineering Professional Development and Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor James Tinjum is seeking to provide scientific support for a deep insulated single-hole (DISH) geothermal heat pump system, a novel heating and cooling method that capitalizes on heat stored in geological structures deep [...]

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In Yosemite meadow, study could spark conversation about restoration

Posted on 29. Aug, 2012 by .

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About Yosemite National Park, the famous naturalist and conservationist John Muir once said: “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” With majestic granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves and a wealth of biological diversity, this 1,169-square-mile wilderness boasts a rich natural [...]

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New engineering podcast series launches with e-business, sustainability experts

Posted on 20. Apr, 2012 by .

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In the inaugural edition of the Badger Engineering Perspective podcast, Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Raj Veeramani talks about how new information technology can allow businesses to implement innovative new processes for getting work done. He also discusses the role of the University of Wisconsin E-Business Consortium in allowing companies to share their innovations and [...]

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An honor fit for a dream come true

Posted on 19. Apr, 2012 by .

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In January 2012, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Jae (Jim) Parkreceived the Order of Service Merit (red stripes medal) from the president of South Korea for his contributions to the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, a multibillion-dollar river restoration project in that country. The Order of Service Merit is among the highest and most coveted [...]

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Benson, Carbon, among nation’s elite engineers

Posted on 19. Apr, 2012 by .

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On February 9, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) named two UW-Madison engineering faculty members to its 2012 class of new members. Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Geological Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering Craig Benson and Engineering Physics Professor Emeritus Max Carbon are among 66 new members and 10 foreign associates elected to the NAE [...]

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Retaining quality faculty

Posted on 09. Dec, 2011 by .

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Collective giving effort keeps star prof on board The offer was expansive: a chance to join the leadership of a new center for environmental technology in a brand-new building and a brand-new lab, collaboration with one of the leaders in the field of environmental engineering, and a chance to work in a state—Arizona—with huge support [...]

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Does ‘green’ behavior occur in a green building?

Posted on 06. Oct, 2011 by .

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Completed in December 2010, the UW-Madison Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Building marries majestic light-filled public spaces with state-of-the-art scientific facilities. But while a hallmark of the building is its visual appeal, equally important to its users are the mechanical, electrical and other systems that operate behind the scenes. In each of these systems, building designers [...]

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Revealing the chemical fingerprints of a crime

Posted on 05. Oct, 2011 by .

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On September 4, 2006, Mark Wangler’s wife Kathy died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the couple’s Bath Township, Ohio, home. Yet, Wangler, who was sleeping in another bedroom, survived. Detectives who visited the home as a matter of protocol began to wonder why only one spouse died—particularly since Wangler claimed the carbon monoxide accumulated because [...]

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Engineers testify about coal combusion products, nuclear safety

Posted on 22. Jun, 2011 by .

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Nuclear expert testifies about U.S. reactor safety In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Japan and the effects of the resulting tsunami on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Engineering Physics Michael Corradini presented testimony April 6, 2011, to a U.S. House subcommittee about the state of U.S. nuclear plants and [...]

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Five questions about sustainability with Giri Venkataramanan

Posted on 21. Jun, 2011 by .

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“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Giri Venkataramanan uses this Aldo Leopold quote to sum up the idea of sustainability—yet notes that sustainability is much like an onion, with many layers [...]

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Smart tech for smart comm

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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As smart phones and other wireless devices become ever more prevalent, the amount of data flowing through wireless networks is rapidly increasing. This data flow eventually connects back to the Internet, typically via cell towers that connect to base stations through fiber optic cables. As demand increases, bottlenecks in the base stations can occur and [...]

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Power plants: Technologies for green fuel

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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California bay trees and clumps of Cladophora algae in the shallows of Madison’s Lake Mendota may not, at first glance, appear to have much in common. However, both species are seeding the future of biofuels research at UW-Madison. Assistant Professor Brian Pfleger (pictured, with Botany Professor Linda Graham) is working to turn sugars from biomass [...]

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From sky and lake, researchers study blue-green algae

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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It’s an unseasonably warm, early-April Friday afternoon in Madison, Wisconsin, and the calm day polishes the Lake Mendota surface to a sheen that’s just shy of glass. A vintage flat-bottomed Boston whaler chugs slowly away from a dock adjacent to the famed University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Union Terrace. Soaking up the sun and expansive lake [...]

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The future of water … now

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by .

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Using a leading-edge forecasting method called nowcasting, water resources managers can use real-time data to monitor, evaluate and respond to changes in everything from algae blooms to water levels in the streams, rivers and lakes under their watch. While forecasts rely on models built with past data, a nowcast draws on current observations and measurements [...]

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