CGRER researcher awarded for developing self-cleaning culvert


Dr. Marian Muste with his self-cleaning culvert design. (IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering/University of Iowa)
Dr. Marian Muste with his self-cleaning culvert design to the left. (IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering/University of Iowa)
Nick Fetty | July 14, 2016

University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research member Marian Muste was recognized earlier this year for his efforts in developing a self-cleaning culvert.

Region 3 of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Research Advisory Council recognized Muste’s project along with three others in the Midwest region. Muste’s project is among 16 nationwide to be dubbed the “‘Sweet Sixteen’ High Value Research Projects” of 2016.

Muste’s research – “Development of Self-Cleaning Box Culvert Design: Phase II” – examines a system that uses the natural power of a stream flow to flush out sediment deposits in culverts. The system does not require intensive maintenance and can be constructed in new culverts or retrofitted for old ones. The design prevents buildup of sedimentation or vegetation in culverts which during rain events can cause culverts to overflow and damage adjacent property.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has implemented Muste’s design in a culvert along Highway 1 in Iowa City. Muste and his research team have monitored the site since the new design was installed in 2013 and he said it has been “working very well.”

Muste – who also serves on the faculty of the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geography – concluded his report by outlining the benefits of his design.

“Besides their primary role in sediment mitigation, the designed self-cleaning structure maintains a clean and clear area upstream the culvert, keeps a healthy flow through the central barrel offering hydraulic and aquatic habitat similar with that in the undisturbed stream reaches upstream and downstream the culvert. It can be concluded that the proposed self-cleaning structural solution ‘streamlines’ the area adjacent to the culvert in a way that secures the safety of the culvert structure at high flows while disturbing the stream behavior less compared with the traditional constructive approaches.”

Iowa considers state energy plan


Data from the American Wind Energy Association shows that Iowa leads the nation in percentage of electricity generated from wind energy: 28 percent in 2014. (Bill Whittaker/Wikipedia)

Nick Fetty | July 8, 2015

Iowa is one of just ten states that does not have its own state energy plan but that could soon change.

On Monday the Iowa Economic Development Authority along with the Iowa Department of Transportation released a request for qualifications (RFQ) to find potential candidates to help state leaders develop an energy plan. The plan will assess current and former energy supply and demand in the state, examine currently existing programs and policies, and identify potential challenges and opportunities.

Once a bidder is chosen for this project, working groups will be formed to help develop the plan. The groups will focus on four main categories: Economic Development and Energy Careers, Iowa’s Energy Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Energy Efficiency and Conservation. The groups will also address several subtopics including assessing energy workforce needs/ requirements from an industry perspective, leveraging Iowa’s biomass resources for development of biofuels and biorenewable chemicals, alternative fuels and movement of goods, energy assurance/security and strategies to lower energy demand. Additionally, five energy forums will also be hosted across the state as a way to get public input on energy issues.

Data compiled by the Iowa Energy Office shows that the Hawkeye State ranks 11th nationally for energy efficiency, 2nd nationally for wind energy generation, and was responsible for producing over 25 percent of the nation’s ethanol.

Interested bidders must submit their qualification before August 7 to be considered for this project.

Construction underway for biofuel station in NW Iowa


Nick Fetty | June 17, 2014
An ethanol plant near Marcus in Western Iowa. Photo via keeva999; Flickr
An ethanol plant near Marcus in Western Iowa.
Photo via keeva999; Flickr

Construction has recently begun on a new biofuel station in the Northwest Iowa town of Inwood.

Once completed, the Oak Street Station will provide motorists with various blends of ethanol (E10, E15, E30 and E85) as well as biodiesel (B5 and B99.9). The governor’s “Fueling Our Future” grant – a collaboration with the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship – provided $125,000 for the project. This grant is also helping to fund a similar project in the South Central Iowa town of Mouth Ayr.

According to data from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, there are 42 ethanol refineries and 12 biodiesel refineries in the state. Combined these facilities have an annual production capacity of more than four billion gallons.

Construction for the Inwood facility broke ground last week and is expected to be completed by January 2015.