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ISTC News Highlights

New CarbonSAFE Awards Target Mitigation of Industrially Sourced Carbon Emissions

Kevin O'Brien in front of the ghgt-13 banner in the main hall of the auditorium in Lausanne, SwitzerlandISTC is a partner in two major CarbonSAFE projects awarded to the Illinois State Geological Survey by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop new technologies to mitigate industrially sourced carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. MORE

Widespread Groundwater Contamination Found in Southwestern Illinois

Kevin O'Brien in front of the ghgt-13 banner in the main hall of the auditorium in Lausanne, SwitzerlandResearchers from ISTC, the Illinois Natural History Survey, and the Illinois State Water Survey detected prescription drug contamination in Illinois groundwater. Analysis of water samples from southwestern Illinois springs and cave streams was reported in the journal Science of the Total Environment. MORE

In Race to Capture Carbon Dioxide, Remember the Need to Use It

Kevin O'Brien in front of the ghgt-13 banner in the main hall of the auditorium in Lausanne, SwitzerlandThe capture and utilization of CO2 provides a unique opportunity to create jobs, build new markets, and Illinois is leading this charge, said ISTC Director Kevin O'Brien in a presentation Nov. 15 at the International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Technologies (GHGT-13) in Lausanne, Switzerland. MORE

Illinois Success Story a Model for Sustainable University

Researcher performing an experiment while wearing protective nitrile glovesKimberly-Clark has recognized two Big Ten Champions in the recycling of nitrile gloves – the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Purdue University. The company highlighted success stories at universities who have developed programs to keep millions of single-use gloves out of landfills. MORE

Congratulations to the 2016 Award Winners!

governor's award plaques lined up at the ceremonyTwenty-five Illinois companies and organizations were honored for their commitment to sustainable business and operations at the 30th Illinois Governor's Sustainability Awards Ceremony held Tuesday, Nov. 1 at the Union League Club of Chicago. Also keynote talks highlighted the sustainability efforts at two major global corporations – General Motors and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. The morning technical symposium featured important advances in technology for carbon capture and utilization, as well as for large-scale production of biofuel. MORE

U.S. Army Lab Engineer Spending Fruitful Year Collaborating with Illinois Peers

Steve Cosper standing in front of pull up banners that read Energy, Water, Reuse of Materials, Contamin. each banner has an image related to its wordSteve Cosper is in the middle of a busy sabbatical year collaborating with ISTC researchers on a range of projects of mutual benefit spanning energy, water, and waste issues. It is the latest highlight of a closer relationship between the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) and the Army’s major research center in Champaign. MORE

ISTC Sponsored Research Evaluates Acoustic Leak Detection Network

leak detection with acoustic sensorsThe Billion Gallon Water Challenge has released a video of a research collaboration with American Water and Echologics to demonstrate new leak detection technology for residential drinking water distribution systems that demonstrated accuracy of 90 percent. MORE

Academic/Government Partners Work Toward the Next Level in Home Water Filtration

gold membrane water filtrationISTC researchers Nandakishore Rajagopalan and Wei Zheng are part of a team of experts from government and academia who are working to improve the filtration of household drinking water using new ultrathin nanoparticle-based membranes to remove trace organic contaminants (TrOCs). MORE

Illinois Teachers Prepare for Lessons on Impact of Drugs in Environment

teachers workshop on drug disposalSchool teachers from across Illinois attended a workshop at the Illinois Sustainable technology Center June 15-16 to help them develop curricula about the risks of improper disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and impacts of these emerging contaminants in the environment. MORE

It’s Not Mr. Fusion, But It’s A Whiz at Energy Production

waste to fuel research“Mr. Sewer” is a multi-stage waste-to-biofuel production system under development by ISTC which can extract 100 percent of energy from a wide variety of wastes. By combining hydrothermal liquefaction of wastes with algae farming, the process can extract three to 10 times the energy in the waste alone. A commercial-scale plant is now being optimized on the University of Illinois campus. MORE

Prairie Research Institute's Watershed Initiative Recognized at White House Water Summit

Watershed InitiativeThe White House Water Summit on March 22, 2016, highlighted the Prairie Research Institute’s Resilient Watersheds Initiative at the University of Illinois in its announcement of new measurable steps being taken across the country to address key water issues. The Resilient Watersheds Initiative at the University of Illinois seeks to provide a science-based and data-driven approach to promoting resilient, sustainable Illinois watersheds.

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Sketch of a faucet with water flowing out to form the word 'one' for the one billion gallon water challengeBillion Gallon Water Challenge

ISTC is encouraging people, businesses, organizations and others to help reduce water consumption in Illinois. It has a goal of saving one billion gallons as part of its One Billion Gallon Water Challenge efforts.

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Researcher Spotlight

Photo of Susan Barta


Susan Barta
Analytical Chemist

Susan Barta is an analytical chemist who has worked at ISTC since 2012. Her research interests involve developing, improving, and expanding the analysis capabilities of the ISTC. Susan is currently evaluating and developing testing protocols to measure a wide range of algal toxins.

Since joining ISTC, Susan has worked on a variety of projects including compositional analysis of biomass, evaluation of nanomaterials for oil spill treatment, and characterization of produced waters from oil extraction. Susan’s laboratory skills have been used to support most of the ongoing research here at ISTC including efforts in desalination, waste to energy, emerging contaminants, and water treatment. She has extensive experience in sample preparations by microwave digestion and accelerated solvent extraction. In addition to standard wet chemical techniques, she is also well versed in instrumentation including ion chromatography, atomic absorption spectroscopy, inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry, UV-Vis spectroscopy, gas chromatography, and high performance liquid chromatography.

Prior to joining the ISTC Susan worked in research laboratories at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Penn State University, and the USDA Northeast Watershed Research Center in State College, PA. She has also worked as an environmental chemist at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene and at a consulting firm.

Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in oceanography at the University of Washington-Seattle, and a master’s degree in water resources management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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