The following summer intern projects are being conducted by the US EPA in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Overview of Projects
Industry Impact Evaluator
Localized Economy Evaluator
Join us in the Fall 2020 Sustainable Communities Web Challenge
Creative ways waste is being recylced...
Share your ideas on ways communities can use innovative new technologies to capture carbon and turn waste streams into revenue streams.
We're using the USEEIO Sustainable Materials Management Tool to model impacts to help communities attract new businesses and technologies.
Carbon Capture with Nanotubes - In Brewing
Turning Beer Byproducts (leftover Barley) Into Carbon Nanotubes
Nov 26, 2019 -
Scientists have created a low-cost renewable fuel for homes in winter, charcoal for summer barbecues, active carbon for water filters and treating poison, and carbon nanotubes for cancer treatment and drug delivery.
Capturing Carbon from Air using Carbon Nanotubes
October 25, 2019 - A significantly less energy-intensive way to extract carbon from air at virtually any concentration level.
Whiskey Makers Are Making a Play For Climate-Conscious Drinkers
Distilleries are touting water conservation, forest planting, butterfly waystations and bee protection.
In Paper Production
The expanse of the global lignin market is being driven by the increasing demand for carbon fibers in the construction and automotive industries. Paper mills currently discharge million of gallons of lignin effluent into waterways daily.
Lignin is an organic, often pale-yellow, connecting substance found between and in plant cells.
Lignin is the second largest renewable carbon source on the planet after cellulose.
Lignin Market Valuation
Paper companies and universities are researching enzymes to create prebiotics that increase chicken health and immunity. The new poultry feed additive could reduce the need for anti-biotics by using xylan, the third most abundant biopolymer on Earth, which is from the group of hemicelluloses found in flowering plants, wood producing trees, and the cell walls of grasses.
Conversion of Biomass into Acrylonitrile, a Key Precursor for Carbon Fiber Manufacturing
"The catalyst used for the nitrilation chemistry is about three times less expensive than the catalyst used in the petroleum-based process and it's a simpler process. The chemistry is endothermic so it doesn't produce excess heat, and unlike the petroleum-based process, it doesn't produce the toxic byproduct hydrogen cyanide. Rather, the bio-based process only produces water and alcohol as its byproducts." Related: An Alternative To Carbon Fiber from Fossil Fuels
LignoTech Florida - Owned by Rayonier Advanced Materials (45%) and Borregaard (55%)
"The 110 million USD investment represents a production capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes lignin measured as dry substance. In a planned second phase, the capacity can later be expanded by 50,000 tonnes."
Source: Recent Advances in Applications of Acidophilic Fungi to Produce Chemicals
How to use Lignin as a Fuel Cell, with no Carbon Emission
Hydrocarbon chains are broken down to energy-rich benzenediols. The popular conducting polymer PEDOT:PSS prevents carbon dioxide from forming.
Harvesting Hydrogen from Tough Biomass
Yulin Deng and his team at Georgia Tech have developed a low-temperature electrolytic technology that can harvest hydrogen fuel from obstinate molecules like lignin and cellulose.
Fast Growth Forestry - for Superwood, Nanowood and Transparent Wood
How to Grow a Forest Really, Really Fast
To establish a mature, native forest in ten times the normal rate of forests planted by humans, amend the soil to a depth of one meter, add a locally abundant biomass. Plant three to five saplings per square meter. "This grows into a forest so dense that after eight months, sunlight can’t reach the ground. At this point, every drop of rain that falls is conserved, and every leaf that falls is converted into humus. The more the forest grows, the more it generates nutrients for itself, accelerating further growth. This density also means that individual trees begin competing for sunlight — another reason these forests grow so fast."
Biosolids as Fast Growth Forest Fertilizer on Marginal Soils
Adding organic matter to soil reduces surface runoff and erosion, improves the capacity to hold water and nutrients while increasing yields (UGA).
Deep-row biosolid applications
allows for forest products at sites near treatment plants.
Deep-rooted plant material uptakes nitrogent to minimize leaching into groundwater.
In Egypt, deserts are being reclaimed and eucalyptus trees are producing wood at four times the rate of pine plantations in Germany.
Application of Composted Pulp and Paper Mill Sludge to a Young Pine Plantation (2000)
"One year after application of compost, the percentage increase in stem diameter was 40 to 66% greater than that achieved in untreated plots, with better growth at the highest compost application rate."
Nanowood - Better Insulator than Styrofoam
Nanowood is produced by boiling out the lignin, treating with Hydrogen Peroxide, then freeze-drying the remaining pure cellulose. An an insullator, deflected heat travels to the end of the wood fiber, where it can be released in the summer or retained in the winter.
Super Wood - Stronger than most Titanium Alloys
Super wood is created by hot compression after chemically removing lignin from soft woods like pine or balsa, which grow fast and are more environmentally friendly. The process can replace slower-growing but denser woods like teak, in furniture or buildings.
Transparent Wood - Three times better Insulator than Glass
Infused with polymers and sturdier than traditional wood, transparent wood can be used in place of less environmentally friendly materials, such as plastics.
As a daylight-harvesting roof, the aligned wood channels guide sunlight into building interiors without relying of the sun’s angle.
Mass Timber Construction
While steel and concrete construction release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere during construction, wood traps and stores carbon for hundreds of years, after which it can be recycled or used as fuel.
In February of 2020 Macy's headquarters announcd their move into Georgia's first mass timber office building - T3 West Midtown at Atlantic Station.
From Tires to Railroad Ties
Rubber and Composite Railroad Ties
Creosote-coated ties are a well known carcinogen, yet they remain in wide use in the railroad industry, despite being banned for consumer use.
In contrast, all-rubber railroad ties made from recycled car tire rubber last several times longer, and can be continually recycled into new railroad ties. They reduce sound and vibrations, and permanently capture carbon, unlike cement railroad ties which release carbon dioxide from limestone during production.
Turning Tires into Railroad Ties
80% of tires end up in landfills. The Hansen rubber railroad tie utilizes 68,000 recycled tires per mile (21 tires per railroad tie). All-rubber railroad ties are 100% recyclable into new rubber railroad ties or other crumb rubber products.