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Fabrication and evaluation of hematite modified granular activated carbon (GAC) media for arsenic removal from groundwater

Description

The goal of the study was twofold: (i) to investigate the synthesis of hematite-impregnated granular activated carbon (Fe-GAC) by hydrolysis of Fe (III) and (ii) to assess the effectiveness of the fabricated media in removal of arsenic from water. Fe-GAC

The goal of the study was twofold: (i) to investigate the synthesis of hematite-impregnated granular activated carbon (Fe-GAC) by hydrolysis of Fe (III) and (ii) to assess the effectiveness of the fabricated media in removal of arsenic from water. Fe-GAC was synthesized by hydrolysis of Fe(III) salts under two Fe (III) initial dosages (0.5M and 2M) and two hydrolysis periods (24 hrs and 72 hrs). The iron content of the fabricated Fe-GAC media ranged from 0.9% to 4.4% Fe/g of the dry media. Pseudo-equilibrium batch test data at pH = 7.7±0.2 in 1mM NaHCO3 buffered ultrapure water and challenge groundwater representative of the Arizona Mexico border region were fitted to a Freundlich isotherm model. The findings suggested that the arsenic adsorption capacity of the metal (hydr)oxide modified GAC media is primarily controlled by the surface area of the media, while the metal content exhibited lesser effect. The adsorption capacity of the media in the model Mexican groundwater matrix was significantly lower for all adsorbent media. Continuous flow short bed adsorber tests (SBA) demonstrated that the adsorption capacity for arsenic in the challenge groundwater was reduced by a factor of 3 to 4 as a result of the mass transport effects. When compared on metal basis, the iron (hydr)oxide modified media performed comparably well as existing commercial media for treatment of arsenic. On dry mass basis, the fabricated media in this study removed less arsenic than their commercial counterparts because the metal content of the commercial media was significantly higher.

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2011

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Photovoltaic capacity additions: the optimal rate of deployment with sensitivity to time-based GHG emissions

Description

Current policies subsidizing or accelerating deployment of photovoltaics (PV) are typically motivated by claims of environmental benefit, such as the reduction of CO2 emissions generated by the fossil-fuel fired power plants that PV is intended to displace. Existing practice is

Current policies subsidizing or accelerating deployment of photovoltaics (PV) are typically motivated by claims of environmental benefit, such as the reduction of CO2 emissions generated by the fossil-fuel fired power plants that PV is intended to displace. Existing practice is to assess these environmental benefits on a net life-cycle basis, where CO2 benefits occurring during use of the PV panels is found to exceed emissions generated during the PV manufacturing phase including materials extraction and manufacture of the PV panels prior to installation. However, this approach neglects to recognize that the environmental costs of CO2 release during manufacture are incurred early, while environmental benefits accrue later. Thus, where specific policy targets suggest meeting CO2 reduction targets established by a certain date, rapid PV deployment may have counter-intuitive, albeit temporary, undesired consequences. Thus, on a cumulative radiative forcing (CRF) basis, the environmental improvements attributable to PV might be realized much later than is currently understood. This phenomenon is particularly acute when PV manufacture occurs in areas using CO2 intensive energy sources (e.g., coal), but deployment occurs in areas with less CO2 intensive electricity sources (e.g., hydro). This thesis builds a dynamic Cumulative Radiative Forcing (CRF) model to examine the inter-temporal warming impacts of PV deployments in three locations: California, Wyoming and Arizona. The model includes the following factors that impact CRF: PV deployment rate, choice of PV technology, pace of PV technology improvements, and CO2 intensity in the electricity mix at manufacturing and deployment locations. Wyoming and California show the highest and lowest CRF benefits as they have the most and least CO2 intensive grids, respectively. CRF payback times are longer than CO2 payback times in all cases. Thin film, CdTe PV technologies have the lowest manufacturing CO2 emissions and therefore the shortest CRF payback times. This model can inform policies intended to fulfill time-sensitive CO2 mitigation goals while minimizing short term radiative forcing.

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2013

The net zero-energy home: precedent and catalyst for local performance-based architecture

Description

The building sector is responsible for consuming the largest proportional share of global material and energy resources. Some observers assert that buildings are the problem and the solution to climate change. It appears that in the United States a coherent

The building sector is responsible for consuming the largest proportional share of global material and energy resources. Some observers assert that buildings are the problem and the solution to climate change. It appears that in the United States a coherent national energy policy to encourage rapid building performance improvements is not imminent. In this environment, where many climate and ecological scientists believe we are running out of time to reverse the effects of anthropogenic climate change, a local grass-roots effort to create demonstration net zero-energy buildings (ZEB) appears necessary. This paper documents the process of designing a ZEB in a community with no existing documented ZEB precedent. The project will establish a framework for collecting design, performance, and financial data for use by architects, building scientists, and the community at large. This type of information may prove critical in order to foster a near-term local demand for net zero-energy buildings.

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2014

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Hexavalent chromium removal using ultraviolet photocatalytic reactor

Description

Hexavalant chromium (Cr(VI)) poses an emerging concern in drinking water treatment with stricter regulations on the horizon. Photocatalytic reduction of Cr(VI) was investigated as an engineering scale option to remove hexavalent chromium from drinking or industrial waters via a UV/titanium

Hexavalant chromium (Cr(VI)) poses an emerging concern in drinking water treatment with stricter regulations on the horizon. Photocatalytic reduction of Cr(VI) was investigated as an engineering scale option to remove hexavalent chromium from drinking or industrial waters via a UV/titanium dioxide (TiO2) process. Using an integrated UV lamp/ceramic membrane system to recirculate TiO2, both hexavalent and total chromium levels were reduced through photocatalytic processes without additional chemicals. Cr(VI) removal increased as a function of higher energy input and TiO2 dosage, achieving above 90% removal for a 1g/L dose of TiO2. Surface analysis of effluent TiO2 confirmed the presence of chromium species.

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2013

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An in situ MBfR system to treat nitrate-contaminated surface water

Description

Nitrate, a widespread contaminant in surface water, can cause eutrophication and toxicity to aquatic organisms. To augment the nitrate-removal capacity of constructed wetlands, I applied the H2-based Membrane Biofilm Reactor (MBfR) in a novel configuration called the in situ

Nitrate, a widespread contaminant in surface water, can cause eutrophication and toxicity to aquatic organisms. To augment the nitrate-removal capacity of constructed wetlands, I applied the H2-based Membrane Biofilm Reactor (MBfR) in a novel configuration called the in situ MBfR (isMBfR). The goal of my thesis is to evaluate and model the nitrate removal performance for a bench-scale isMBfR system.

I operated the bench-scale isMBfR system in 7 different conditions to evaluate its nitrate-removal performance. When I supplied H2 with the isMBfR (stages 1 - 6), I observed at least 70% nitrate removal, and almost all of the denitrification occurred in the "MBfR zone." When I stopped the H2 supply in stage 7, the nitrate-removal percentage immediately dropped from 92% (stage 6) to 11% (stage 7). Denitrification raised the pH of the bulk liquid to ~ 9.0 for the first 6 stages, but the high pH did not impair the performance of the denitrifiers. Microbial community analyses indicated that DB were the dominant bacteria in the "MBfR zone," while photosynthetic Cyanobacteria were dominant in the "photo-zone".

I derived stoichiometric relationships among COD, alkalinity, H2, Dissolved Oxygen (DO), and nitrate to model the nitrate removal capacity of the "MBfR zone." The stoichiometric relationships corresponded well to the nitrate-removal capacity for all stages expect stage 3, which was limited by the abundance of Denitrifying Bacteria (DB) so that the H2 supply capacity could not be completely used.

Finally, I analyzed two case studies for the real-world application of the isMBfR to constructed wetlands. Based on the characteristics for the wetlands and the stoichiometric relationships, I designed a feasible operation condition (membrane area and H2 pressure) for each wetland. In both cases, the amount of isMBfR surface area was modest, from 0.022 to 1.2 m2/m3 of wetland volume.

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2014

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Evaluation of flood mitigation strategies for the Santa Catarina watershed using a multi-model approach

Description

The increasingly recurrent extraordinary flood events in the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Mexico have led to significant stakeholder interest in understanding the hydrologic response of the Santa Catarina watershed to extreme events. This study analyzes a flood mitigation strategy proposed

The increasingly recurrent extraordinary flood events in the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Mexico have led to significant stakeholder interest in understanding the hydrologic response of the Santa Catarina watershed to extreme events. This study analyzes a flood mitigation strategy proposed by stakeholders through a participatory workshop and are assessed using two hydrological models: The Hydrological Modeling System (HEC-HMS) and the Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN)-based Real-time Integrated Basin Simulator (tRIBS).

The stakeholder-derived flood mitigation strategy consists of placing new hydraulic infrastructure in addition to the current flood controls in the basin. This is done by simulating three scenarios: (1) evaluate the impact of the current structure, (2) implementing a large dam similar to the Rompepicos dam and (3) the inclusion of three small detention dams. These mitigation strategies are assessed in the context of a major flood event caused by the landfall of Hurricane Alex in July 2010 through a consistent application of the two modeling tools. To do so, spatial information on topography, soil, land cover and meteorological forcing were assembled, quality-controlled and input into each model. Calibration was performed for each model based on streamflow observations and maximum observed reservoir levels from the National Water Commission in Mexico.

Simulation analyses focuses on the differential capability of the two models in capturing the spatial variability in rainfall, topographic conditions, soil hydraulic properties and its effect on the flood response in the presence of the different flood mitigation structures. The implementation of new hydraulic infrastructure is shown to have a positive impact on mitigating the flood peak with a more favorable reduction in the peak at the outlet from the larger dam (16.5% in tRIBS and 23% in HEC-HMS) than the collective effect from the small structures (12% in tRIBS and 10% in HEC-HMS). Furthermore, flood peak mitigation depends strongly on the number and locations of the new dam sites in relation to the spatial distribution of rainfall and flood generation. Comparison of the two modeling approaches complements the analysis of available observations for the flood event and provides a framework within which to derive a multi-model approach for stakeholder-driven solutions.

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2016

Is carbon sequestration "good" for the environment?: an evaluation based on current technology and methods

Description

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is one of the important mitigation options for climate change. Numerous technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) are in development but currently, capture using amines is the predominant technology. When the flue gas reacts with

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is one of the important mitigation options for climate change. Numerous technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) are in development but currently, capture using amines is the predominant technology. When the flue gas reacts with amines (Monoethanaloamine) the CO2 is absorbed into the solution and forms an intermediate product which then releases CO2 at higher temperature. The high temperature necessary to strip CO2 is provided by steam extracted from the powerplant thus reducing the net output of the powerplant by 25% to 35%. The reduction in electricity output for the same input of coal increases the emissions factor of Nitrogen Oxides, Mercury, Particulate matter, Ammonia, Volatile organic compounds for the same unit of electricity produced. The thesis questions if this tradeoff between CO2 and other emissions is beneficial or not. Three different methodologies, Life Cycle Assessment, Valuation models and cost benefit analysis are used to identify if there is a net benefit to the society on implementation of CCS to a Pulverized coal powerplant. These methodologies include the benefits due to reduction of CO2 and the disbenefits due to the increase of other emissions. The life cycle assessment using ecoindicator'99 methodology shows the CCS is not beneficial under Hierarchical and Egalitarian perspective. The valuation model shows that the inclusion of the other emissions reduces the benefit associated with CCS. For a lower CO2 price the valuation model shows that CCS is detrimental to the environment. The cost benefit analysis shows that a CO2 price of at least $80/tCO2 is required for the cost benefit ratio to be 1. The methodology integrates Montecarlo simulation to characterize the uncertainties associated with the valuation models.

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2012

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Characterizing generation mix and virtual water for resilience to drought on the western U.S. power grid

Description

There is growing concern over the future availability of water for electricity generation. Because of a rapidly growing population coupled with an arid climate, the Western United States faces a particularly acute water/energy challenge, as installation of new electricity capacity

There is growing concern over the future availability of water for electricity generation. Because of a rapidly growing population coupled with an arid climate, the Western United States faces a particularly acute water/energy challenge, as installation of new electricity capacity is expected to be required in the areas with the most limited water availability. Electricity trading is anticipated to be an important strategy for avoiding further local water stress, especially during drought and in the areas with the most rapidly growing populations. Transfers of electricity imply transfers of "virtual water" - water required for the production of a product. Yet, as a result of sizable demand growth, there may not be excess capacity in the system to support trade as an adaptive response to long lasting drought. As the grid inevitably expands capacity due to higher demand, or adapts to anticipated climate change, capacity additions should be selected and sited to increase system resilience to drought. This paper explores the tradeoff between virtual water and local water/energy infrastructure development for the purpose of enhancing the Western US power grid's resilience to drought. A simple linear model is developed that estimates the economically optimal configuration of the Western US power grid given water constraints. The model indicates that natural gas combined cycle power plants combined with increased interstate trade in power and virtual water provide the greatest opportunity for cost effective and water efficient grid expansion. Such expansion, as well as drought conditions, may shift and increase virtual water trade patterns, as states with ample water resources and a competitive advantage in developing power sources become net exporters, and states with limited water or higher costs become importers.

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2013

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The development and evaluation of biofuel production systems on marginal land

Description

The consumption of feedstocks from agriculture and forestry by current biofuel production has raised concerns about food security and land availability. In the meantime, intensive human activities have created a large amount of marginal lands that require management. This study

The consumption of feedstocks from agriculture and forestry by current biofuel production has raised concerns about food security and land availability. In the meantime, intensive human activities have created a large amount of marginal lands that require management. This study investigated the viability of aligning land management with biofuel production on marginal lands. Biofuel crop production on two types of marginal lands, namely urban vacant lots and abandoned mine lands (AMLs), were assessed. The investigation of biofuel production on urban marginal land was carried out in Pittsburgh between 2008 and 2011, using the sunflower gardens developed by a Pittsburgh non-profit as an example. Results showed that the crops from urban marginal lands were safe for biofuel. The crop yield was 20% of that on agricultural land while the low input agriculture was used in crop cultivation. The energy balance analysis demonstrated that the sunflower gardens could produce a net energy return even at the current low yield. Biofuel production on AML was assessed from experiments conducted in a greenhouse for sunflower, soybean, corn, canola and camelina. The research successfully created an industrial symbiosis by using bauxite as soil amendment to enable plant growth on very acidic mine refuse. Phytoremediation and soil amendments were found to be able to effectively reduce contamination in the AML and its runoff. Results from this research supported that biofuel production on marginal lands could be a unique and feasible option for cultivating biofuel feedstocks.

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2013

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Electrochemical charaterization of anode-respiring geobacter sulfurreducens and geoalkalibacter subterraneus

Description

To further the efforts producing energy from more renewable sources, microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) can utilize anode respiring bacteria (ARB) to couple the oxidation of an organic substrate to the delivery of electrons to the anode. Although ARB such as

To further the efforts producing energy from more renewable sources, microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) can utilize anode respiring bacteria (ARB) to couple the oxidation of an organic substrate to the delivery of electrons to the anode. Although ARB such as Geobacter and Shewanella have been well-studied in terms of their microbiology and electrochemistry, much is still unknown about the mechanism of electron transfer to the anode. To this end, this thesis seeks to elucidate the complexities of electron transfer existing in Geobacter sulfurreducens biofilms by employing Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) as the tool of choice. Experiments measuring EIS resistances as a function of growth were used to uncover the potential gradients that emerge in biofilms as they grow and become thicker. While a better understanding of this model ARB is sought, electrochemical characterization of a halophile, Geoalkalibacter subterraneus (Glk. subterraneus), revealed that this organism can function as an ARB and produce seemingly high current densities while consuming different organic substrates, including acetate, butyrate, and glycerol. The importance of identifying and studying novel ARB for broader MXC applications was stressed in this thesis as a potential avenue for tackling some of human energy problems.

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2013