Tag Archives: environment

System alerts Great Lakes swimmers of dangerous currents

Posted on 19. Feb, 2015 by .

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By Scott Gordon The history of the Great Lakes is one of people who underestimate their destructive power, often with tragic results. From two massive waves that smashed into Chicago’s harbors in 1954 to a rip current that drowned a young swimmer in Port Washington, Wisconsin, in 2012, Lake Michigan and its neighbors have a [...]

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Energy research for a stronger society

Posted on 19. Feb, 2015 by .

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By Scott Gordon It’s hard to find an energy researcher in the College of Engineering who thinks only about one piece of the energy puzzle. Talk to an engine researcher about fuel efficiency, and pretty soon you’ll be discussing the engine as a bigger system. Ask an electrical engineer about power storage, and the conversation [...]

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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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How waste wood works for forests

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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At first glance, they may look lush and green, but many of the nation’s forests also are chock-full of brush—often, invasive species and disease-transmitting biomass—just waiting for a spark. “One of the reasons wildfires are so catastrophic is that many forests are unhealthy and there’s a lot of excess biomass in the forest,” says Joseph [...]

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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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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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Silicon Valley Badger: Tom Werner

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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Helping solar energy’s future shine bright Thomas Werner’s solar energy company, SunPower Inc., in San Jose, has been keeping some pretty high-profile company these days. Take the San Francisco 49ers: The franchise is partnering with SunPower this year to make the new $1.2 billion Santa Clara stadium the greenest in the National Football League. It [...]

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Sustainability master’s helps professional engineers grow in new directions

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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As energy & CO2 leader for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Steve Skarda spends most of his time working on renewable energy issues. But even on his own time, he thinks about sustainability. “It’s a personal passion for me,” he says. “I love it a lot. I took a car and converted it to an [...]

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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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College of Engineering interdisciplinary degree programs

Posted on 30. Aug, 2012 by .

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Environmental Chemistry & Technology Program Marc Anderson (chair) Tel: 608/263-3264 • Fax: 608/262-0454 mcpossin@wisc.edu www.engr.wisc.edu/interd/ect Geological Engineering Program Craig H. Benson (chair) Tel: 608/890-2420 • Fax: 608/890-3718 gle@engr.wisc.edu www.gle.wisc.edu Limnology and Marine Science Program Steve Loheide (chair) Tel: 608/263-3264 • Fax: 608/262-0454 mcpossin@wisc.edu www.engr.wisc.edu/interd/limnology Manufacturing Systems Engineering Program Frank Pfefferkorn (director) Tel: 608/262-0921• Fax: 608/265-4017 [...]

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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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Creative energy: In new building, microgrid lab will spark practical solutions

Posted on 20. Apr, 2012 by .

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When the Wisconsin Energy Institute building opens on the UW-Madison campus in early 2013, it will include a high-power microgrid that will combine real and simulated power sources capable of reproducing the inherent technical challenges associated with intermittent energy sources. “We want to be able to create all of the different operating conditions that are [...]

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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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Optimizing internal combustion

Posted on 19. Apr, 2012 by .

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For decades, engineers have studied low-temperature combustion as a means of creating engines with diesel-like efficiency and no pollutant emissions. Yet, the very nature of low-temperature combustion involves a reaction with little active control: inject the fuels, mixing occurs, and then some time later, combustion starts. To investigate a new technique for measuring the temperature [...]

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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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They dig the outdoors

Posted on 29. Sep, 2011 by .

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Geological engineers live and work for the environment Most of the people who were in the Geological Engineering Program (GLE) with me got involved because we enjoy the outdoors,” says Sam Freitag (pictured). “We liked all the time we got to spend on camping trips for geology and doing outdoor field work, but we also [...]

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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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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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