Wind turbine component manufacturer pledges money to UI for research

Photo by Caveman Chuck Coker, Flickr

The North American Ductile Iron Co. (Nadicom) is contributing $300,000 towards wind turbine component research at the University of Iowa.

Nadicom is currently building a foundry to develop wind turbine components in Iowa City. The facility is scheduled to open in 2013.

With this funding UI researchers hope to develop more effective and efficient ductile iron castings – a component of wind turbines.

UI mechanical and industrial engineering professor Christoph Beckermann will lead the research.

For more information on the research and Nadicom’s foundry, read the Press-Citizen’s article here.

ISU student’s study could increase campus recycling

Photo by The Brain Toad, Flickr

Kevin Marquardt, a Dowling Catholic graduate and Clive resident, used an independent study to determine how Iowa State could improve their recycling.

By researching other universities’ recycling programs, conducting surveys and interviews and studying students’ recycling and waste practices, Marquardt was able to create a successful paper detailing potential initiatives for the campus.

One of the main conclusions determined by Marquardt is that campus recycling will improve if the recycling bins have a standard appearance, and are placed in similar locations around every building.

Read the full press release from Iowa State University here.

View Marquardt’s presentation on his findings here.

Beekeeping schools offered throughout Iowa in 2012

Photo by xsannyx, Flickr

This upcoming year, 12 beekeeping schools will be available in Iowa. The Iowa Honey Producers Association is the primary host of these schools.

Most of the schools start between the middle of January and the first week in February. The duration of the classes varies; some meet once a week for 4-8 weeks, and some meet periodically throughout the entire year.

Bees are important pollinators in Iowa, and consequently have a large economic impact on our state.

Beekeeping is of added importance right now because of the declining bee population. University of Iowa professor Steve Hendrix discussed this issue with the Iowa Environmental Focus back in August.

For more information on the beekeeping schools, read the Estherville Daily News article here.

Iowa City to evict crows from downtown

Crows tend to become a problem in Iowa City throughout November and December.

The City of Iowa City is fighting back against a growing population of crows that’s been infesting downtown streets and worrying local business owners.

“As it gets colder, the crows are attracted to three things: trees, light and heat,” said Michael Moran, Iowa City Parks and Recreation Director. “These seem to be a perfect storm in the ped mall.”

The city will attempt to scare the crows off using a collection of reflective streamers and eye-colored balloons. These devices, when stirred by the wind, should simulate a moving predator and motivate the crows to gather somewhere else.

Moran said the streamers and balloons have been used elsewhere with some success, but he is unsure where the crows will go if they’re successfully enticed away from the downtown area.

For more information, read the full article at the Press-Citizen.

Iowa hits record ethanol production

An ethanol plant in Iowa. Photo by Hendrixson, Flickr.

Iowa’s 41 ethanol plants produced a record 3.7 billion gallons in 2011, a 200 million gallon increase from 2010. Monte Shaw, Executive Director of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, largely attrbitues this rise to exports.

“2011 was certainly a good year for Iowa ethanol producers with increased production and profitability,” said Shaw. “However, we relied on export markets for growth.”

Roughly 62 percent of Iowa’s 2010 corn harvest were used to produce the 3.7 billion gallons of ethanol.

For more information, view the full story at the Des Moines Register.

How to environmentally dispose of electronic waste

Photo by U.S. Army Environmental Command

Ever wonder how to best dispose of your old electronics?

Many electronics should not be thrown out in the regular trash. Electronics often contain toxic chemicals that can enter the groundwater while sitting in landfills.

In fact, starting next year it will be illegal for Illinois residents to throw out electronics – there is no such ban in Iowa.

There are many recycling options for electronic waste. Often, manufacturers such as IBM and Apple will offer ways to recycle their computers and other products. Additionally, Midwest Electronic Recovery – an electronics recycling company – has two locations in Iowa (Walford and Clive).

For the full article on Illinois’ new electronic waste law, read the Quad-City Times article here.

For information on disposing of electronics in Iowa, and the harmful effects of throwing out electronics, visit the Iowa DNR’s webpage here.

Update: The EPA has even more suggestions on where to recycle electronic waste here.

It is also worthwhile to find out your city’s protocol for recycling electronics. Some cities in Iowa, including Iowa City, have some services available.

Kalona creek naming rights to sell on eBay

A creek in Iowa. Photo by iowa_spirit_walker, Flickr.

The Kalona City Council will attempt to sell the naming rights of a local creek on eBay this week.

The creek, currently known as the West Drainage Ditch, had it’s naming rights auctioned off once before, but the winning bidder’s suggestion of “Baniki Kinshi” – Japanese for “horse meat prohibited” – led the council to try the auction again.

“The name just wasn’t appropriate,” Schlabaugh said. “That was our biggest fear, that it meant (something else), so we’re going to decline it.”

The second auction is planned to start on Thursday, Dec. 29, and is expected to run for ten days. Bidding is open to anyone – not just Kalona residents, and funds from the winning bid will be used to replace sidewalks throughout the city.

For more information, read the full article at The Gazette.