New research shows that sugarcane ethanol production creates more pollution than previously estimated. University of Iowa faculty members, and Center For Global and Regional Environmental Research members, Greg Carmichael and Scott Spak teamed with researchers from the University of California and Chile’s Universidad Andrés Bello for this study.
Prior to this research, sugarcane ethanol was considered a more environmentally friendly fuel alternative to corn ethanol. The new data raises questions to that assessment.
Scott Spak explained the importance of these findings:
. . . the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers sugarcane ethanol an ‘advanced biofuel’ with fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional biofuels like corn ethanol. These new findings help us refine those estimates and move closer to making more informed comparisons between different fuel sources, and ultimately make better decisions about how to grow and use biofuels.
Read the full University of Iowa news release on the study here.
CGRER members Greg Carmichael and Scott Spak received a three-year $900, 000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to study the pollution and climate effects of black carbon aerosol. Specifically, the project looks to determine how black carbon effects human health and climate in California, India and the Arctic.
It is believed that understanding and controlling black carbon could slow the rate of global warming. Continue reading →
Listen to this week’s radio segment on a UI workshop that helped Iowa science teachers incorporate environmental and climate issues into their classroom. You can also check out some lesson plans and classroom activities here.
It’s never too early to start educating children about science and their environment, which is why the University of Iowa is working to improve the skills and knowledge of middle school science teachers. Continue reading →
The University of Iowa is doing their part in preparing science teachers to cover environmental issues in the classroom. Professor Charlie Stanier and PhD candidate Morgan Yarker recently led a workshop helping middle school teachers develop curricula covering climate, weather and energy. While Professor Stanier was required to conduct an outreach activity as part of a grant, Yarker explained that the workshop went beyond the call of duty:
“Charlie Stanier received a National Science Foundation grant given to scientist who aren’t tenured yet, so that they’ll have money to do research,” said Yarker. “Like almost all NSF grants, you have to have an outreach component. I don’t know what most scientists do, but you don’t usually go to the extent of starting a workshop for teachers.”
Stanier and Yarker decided to focus their efforts on middle school teachers in order to help them adapt to Iowa’s upcoming education changes. Iowa is going to implement new state education standards called Iowa Core, whose goals include making middle school students more informed on Earth science topics, such as weather and climate. Continue reading →
Quicker predictions will help officials protect public health
In the Southern Hemisphere, the months of April, May and June mark the transition from summer to winter and usher in masses of stagnant air that often give rise to urban air pollution.
That’s why a study conducted by CGRER researchers — and published in the May issue of the journal Atmospheric Environment — that describes a system to predict periods of high air pollution is attracting attention in Santiago, Chile, a city of nearly 6 million people. Continue reading →
The company now expects the refinery to produce alsost twice as much methane – 980 tons per year instead of 498. That is significant, because as the Sioux City Journal reports:
Methane, an odorless gas, is considered a more potent greenhouse gas, trapping heat in the atmosphere at a rate 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Hyperion said it had inadvertently left coke drum steam vents out of its original estimates to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Continue reading →
Elk Point was never in the spotlight before. But for three years, this quiet South Dakota town of just 750 families and a handful of restaurants has become the focal point in a dispute over a proposed 400,000 barrel-a-day tar sands oil refinery.
It would be the first tar sands plant built the United States since 1976.
Proposed by Dallas-based Hyperion LLC, the refinery has spurred an ideological clash between those hoping to add jobs to a still stagnant economy and those concerned about the health of the near pristine environment of this town, just 15 miles Southwest of Sioux City, and its nearby national parks and recreation areas.
Tar sands is an extra dark, heavy oil that researchers like Scott Spak, at the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, call “absolutely filthy.” Hyperion has said the refinery will use new technology that will limit emissions.
Disagreements over the proposal haven’t been confined to Elk Point or surrounding Union County, where 58 percent of voters approved a zoning ordinance that set aside 3,292 acres of land for the Hyperion refinery. Bickering over the refinery has crept across the border into Iowa and into the rhetoric of lawmakers, and was heightened by the recent midterm elections.
But a review of documents on Hyperion’s permitting process show that the refinery likely won’t be built for years, if at all. Since announcing Elk Point as a finalist for the refinery in June 2007, Hyperion has received just one of seven major permits required for its operation, and even that permit is tenuous. Continue reading →