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Moving towards sustainable and resilient smart water grids: networked sensing and control devices in the urban water system

Description

Urban water systems face sustainability challenges ranging from water quality, leaks, over-use, energy consumption, and long-term supply concerns. Resiliency challenges include the capacity to respond to drought, managing pipe deterioration, responding to natural disasters, and preventing terrorism. One strategy to

Urban water systems face sustainability challenges ranging from water quality, leaks, over-use, energy consumption, and long-term supply concerns. Resiliency challenges include the capacity to respond to drought, managing pipe deterioration, responding to natural disasters, and preventing terrorism. One strategy to enhance sustainability and resiliency is the development and adoption of smart water grids. A smart water grid incorporates networked monitoring and control devices into its structure, which provides diverse, real-time information about the system, as well as enhanced control. Data provide input for modeling and analysis, which informs control decisions, allowing for improvement in sustainability and resiliency. While smart water grids hold much potential, there are also potential tradeoffs and adoption challenges. More publicly available cost-benefit analyses are needed, as well as system-level research and application, rather than the current focus on individual technologies. This thesis seeks to fill one of these gaps by analyzing the cost and environmental benefits of smart irrigation controllers. Smart irrigation controllers can save water by adapting watering schedules to climate and soil conditions. The potential benefit of smart irrigation controllers is particularly high in southwestern U.S. states, where the arid climate makes water scarcer and increases watering needs of landscapes. To inform the technology development process, a design for environment (DfE) method was developed, which overlays economic and environmental performance parameters under different operating conditions. This method is applied to characterize design goals for controller price and water savings that smart irrigation controllers must meet to yield life cycle carbon dioxide reductions and economic savings in southwestern U.S. states, accounting for regional variability in electricity and water prices and carbon overhead. Results from applying the model to smart irrigation controllers in the Southwest suggest that some areas are significantly easier to design for.

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Date Created
2012

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Sustainable drinking water treatment: using weak base anion exchange sorbents embedded with metal oxide nanoparticles to simultaneously remove multiple oxoanions

Description

Ion exchange sorbents embedded with metal oxide nanoparticles can have high affinity and high capacity to simultaneously remove multiple oxygenated anion contaminants from drinking water. This research pursued answering the question, “Can synthesis methods of nano-composite sorbents be improved to

Ion exchange sorbents embedded with metal oxide nanoparticles can have high affinity and high capacity to simultaneously remove multiple oxygenated anion contaminants from drinking water. This research pursued answering the question, “Can synthesis methods of nano-composite sorbents be improved to increase sustainability and feasibility to remove hexavalent chromium and arsenic simultaneously from groundwater compared to existing sorbents?” Preliminary nano-composite sorbents outperformed existing sorbents in equilibrium tests, but struggled in packed bed applications and at low influent concentrations. The synthesis process was then tailored for weak base anion exchange (WBAX) while comparing titanium dioxide against iron hydroxide nanoparticles (Ti-WBAX and Fe-WBAX, respectively). Increasing metal precursor concentration increased the metal content of the created sorbents, but pollutant removal performance and usable surface area declined due to pore blockage and nanoparticle agglomeration. An acid-post rinse was required for Fe-WBAX to restore chromium removal capacity. Anticipatory life cycle assessment identified critical design constraints to improve environmental and human health performance like minimizing oven heating time, improving pollutant removal capacity, and efficiently reusing metal precursor solution. The life cycle environmental impact of Ti-WBAX was lower than Fe-WBAX as well as a mixed bed of WBAX and granular ferric hydroxide for all studied categories. A separate life cycle assessment found the total number of cancer and non-cancer cases prevented by drinking safer water outweighed those created by manufacture and use of water treatment materials and energy. However, treatment relocated who bore the health risk, concentrated it in a sub-population, and changed the primary manifestation from cancer to non-cancer disease. This tradeoff was partially mitigated by avoiding use of pH control chemicals. When properly synthesized, Fe-WBAX and Ti-WBAX sorbents maintained chromium removal capacity while significantly increasing arsenic removal capacity compared to the parent resin. The hybrid sorbent performance was demonstrated in packed beds using a challenging water matrix and low pollutant influent conditions. Breakthrough curves hint that the hexavalent chromium is removed by anion exchange and the arsenic is removed by metal oxide sorption. Overall, the hybrid nano-sorbent synthesis methods increased sustainability, improved sorbent characteristics, and increased simultaneous removal of chromium and arsenic for drinking water.

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Date Created
2016

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Computational sustainability assessment of algal biofuels and bioproducts for commercial applications

Description

To date, the production of algal biofuels is not economically sustainable due to the cost of production and the low cost of conventional fuels. As a result, interest has been shifting to high value products in the algae community to

To date, the production of algal biofuels is not economically sustainable due to the cost of production and the low cost of conventional fuels. As a result, interest has been shifting to high value products in the algae community to make up for the low economic potential of algal biofuels. The economic potential of high-value products does not however, eliminate the need to consider the environmental impacts. The majority of the environmental impacts associated with algal biofuels overlap with algal bioproducts in general (high-energy dewatering) due to the similarities in their production pathways. Selecting appropriate product sets is a critical step in the commercialization of algal biorefineries.

This thesis evaluates the potential of algae multiproduct biorefineries for the production of fuel and high-value products to be economically self-sufficient and still contribute to climate change mandates laid out by the government via the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. This research demonstrates:

1) The environmental impacts of algal omega-3 fatty acid production can be lower than conventional omega-3 fatty acid production, depending on the dewatering strategy.

2) The production of high-value products can support biofuels with both products being sold at prices comparable to 2016 prices.

3) There is a tradeoff between revenue and fuel production

4) There is a tradeoff between the net energy ratio of the algal biorefinery and the economic viability due to the lower fuel production in a multi-product model that produces high-value products and diesel vs. the lower economic potential from a multi-product model that just produces diesel.

This work represents the first efforts to use life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis to assess the economic and environmental sustainability of an existing pilot-scale biorefinery tasked with the production of high-value products and biofuels. This thesis also identifies improvements for multiproduct algal biorefineries that will achieve environmentally sustainable biofuel and products while maintaining economic viability.

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Created

Date Created
2016

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Comparison of four methods to assess silver release from nano impregnated reverse osmosis membranes

Description

With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials,

With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials, it is a suitable material that can be used to incorporate with RO to change the membrane performances. Silver is biocidal, which has been used in a variety of consumer products. Recent studies showed that fabricating silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) on membrane surfaces can mitigate the biofouling problem on the membrane. Studies have shown that Ag released from the membrane in the form of either Ag ions or AgNP will accelerate the antimicrobial activity of the membrane. However, the silver release from the membrane will lower the silver loading on the membrane, which will eventually shorten the antimicrobial activity lifetime of the membrane. Therefore, the silver leaching amount is a crucial parameter that needs to be determined for every type of Ag composite membrane.

This study is attempting to compare four different silver leaching test methods, to study the silver leaching potential of the silver impregnated membranes, conducting the advantages and disadvantages of the leaching methods. An In-situ reduction Ag loaded RO membrane was examined in this study. A custom waterjet test was established to create a high-velocity water flow to test the silver leaching from the nanocomposite membrane in a relative extreme environment. The batch leaching test was examined as the most common leaching test method for the silver composite membrane. The cross-flow filtration and dead-end test were also examined to compare the silver leaching amounts.

The silver coated membrane used in this experiment has an initial silver loading of 2.0± 0.51 ug/cm2. The mass balance was conducted for all of the leaching tests. For the batch test, water jet test, and dead-end filtration, the mass balances are all within 100±25%, which is acceptable in this experiment because of the variance of the initial silver loading on the membranes. A bad silver mass balance was observed at cross-flow filtration. Both of AgNP and Ag ions leached in the solution was examined in this experiment. The concentration of total silver leaching into solutions from the four leaching tests are all below the Secondary Drinking Water Standard for silver which is 100 ppb. The cross-flow test is the most aggressive leaching method, which has more than 80% of silver leached from the membrane after 50 hours of the test. The water jet (54 ± 6.9% of silver remaining) can cause higher silver leaching than batch test (85 ± 1.2% of silver remaining) in one-hour, and it can also cause both AgNP and Ag ions leaching from the membrane, which is closer to the leaching condition in the cross-flow test.

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Created

Date Created
2017

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Optimization of Back Reflectors for Bifacial Photovoltaic Modules

Description

Demand for green energy alternatives to provide stable and reliable energy

solutions has increased over the years which has led to the rapid expansion of global

markets in renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. Newest

amongst these technologies is the

Demand for green energy alternatives to provide stable and reliable energy

solutions has increased over the years which has led to the rapid expansion of global

markets in renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. Newest

amongst these technologies is the Bifacial PV modules, which harvests incident radiation

from both sides of the module. The overall power generation can be significantly increased

by using these bifacial modules. The purpose of this research is to investigate and maximize

the effect of back reflectors, designed to increase the efficiency of the module by utilizing

the intercell light passing through the module to increase the incident irradiance, on the

energy output using different profiles placed at varied distances from the plane of the array

(POA). The optimum reflector profile and displacement of the reflector from the module

are determined experimentally.

Theoretically, a 60-cell bifacial module can produce 26% additional energy in

comparison to a 48-cell bifacial module due to the 12 excess cells found in the 60-cell

module. It was determined that bifacial modules have the capacity to produce additional

energy when optimized back reflectors are utilized. The inverted U reflector produced

higher energy gain when placed at farther distances from the module, indicating direct

dependent proportionality between the placement distance of the reflector from the module

and the output energy gain. It performed the best out of all current construction geometries

with reflective coatings, generating more than half of the additional energy produced by a

densely-spaced 60-cell benchmark module compared to a sparsely-spaced 48-cell reference

module.ii

A gain of 11 and 14% was recorded on cloudy and sunny days respectively for the

inverted U reflector. This implies a reduction in the additional cells of the 60-cell module

by 50% can produce the same amount of energy of the 60-cell module by a 48-cell module

with an inverted U reflector. The use of the back reflectors does not only affect the

additional energy gain but structural and land costs. Row to row spacing for bifacial

systems(arrays) is reduced nearly by half as the ground height clearance is largely

minimized, thus almost 50% of height constraints for mounting bifacial modules, using

back reflectors resulting in reduced structural costs for mounting of bifacial modules

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Created

Date Created
2019

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Dependence of toxicity test results on sample removal methods of PV modules

Description

The volume of end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) modules is increasing as the global PV market increases, and the global PV waste streams are expected to reach 250,000 metric tons by the end of 2020. If the recycling processes are not in

The volume of end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) modules is increasing as the global PV market increases, and the global PV waste streams are expected to reach 250,000 metric tons by the end of 2020. If the recycling processes are not in place, there would be 60 million tons of end-of-life PV modules lying in the landfills by 2050, that may not become a not-so-sustainable way of sourcing energy since all PV modules could contain certain amount of toxic substances. Currently in the United States, PV modules are categorized as general waste and can be disposed in landfills. However, potential leaching of toxic chemicals and materials, if any, from broken end-of-life modules may pose health or environmental risks. There is no standard procedure to remove samples from PV modules for chemical toxicity testing in the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) laboratories as per EPA 1311 standard. The main objective of this thesis is to develop an unbiased sampling approach for the TCLP testing of PV modules. The TCLP testing was concentrated only for the laminate part of the modules, as they are already existing recycling technologies for the frame and junction box components of PV modules. Four different sample removal methods have been applied to the laminates of five different module manufacturers: coring approach, cell-cut approach, strip-cut approach, and hybrid approach. These removed samples were sent to two different TCLP laboratories, and TCLP results were tested for repeatability within a lab and reproducibility between the labs. The pros and cons of each sample removal method have been explored and the influence of sample removal methods on the variability of TCLP results has been discussed. To reduce the variability of TCLP results to an acceptable level, additional improvements in the coring approach, the best of the four tested options, are still needed.

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Date Created
2018