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Andlinger Center Events

Date: September 16, 2013

Time: 4:30 pm -

Location: Computer Science 104

Professor Jerald Schnoor, of the University of Iowa, presents “Water Implications of Biofuels in the U.S.” on September 16, 2013 as part of the Andlinger Center’s 2013-2014 Highlight Seminar Series.

Jerald Schnoor Presentation Slides

The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 provides a goal of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022.  Currently we produce about 14 billion gallons each year, mostly from corn for ethanol production, which consumes 40% of the corn crop in the U.S.   The impetus of the national goal is a desire for greater energy security and lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels.  But there are serious environmental, social, and water implications from producing that much biofuel, particularly from corn and soybeans, which are scheduled to peak at about 15 billion gallons in 2015.  Cellulosic biofuels (from corn stover, switchgrass, wood residues, willow and poplar) offer the promise of lower water impacts and are mandated to provide a large fraction of the remaining Renewable Fuel Standard RFS2 of 16 billion gallons by 2022.  But they are slow to become commercial.  Impacts on water quantity and quality of the RFS2 mandate are the subject of this talk, and alternative options will be discussed.

Dr. Jerald L. Schnoor, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, Allen S. Henry Chair in Engineering; Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering; Professor, Occupational and Environmental Health; and Co-Director, Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research; The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Dr. Jerald Schnoor is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (elected in 1999) for his pioneering work using mathematical models in science policy decisions. He testified several times before Congress on various environmental issues including the environmental effects of acid deposition and the importance of passing the 1990 Clean Air Act. While serving as Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Science and Technology, Jerry guides the leading journal in both environmental engineering and environmental science. His editorial writings on environmental policy and research have been widely accessed by the international community. Professor Schnoor has published (as author, co-author, or editor) six books and over 175 research articles in archival journals. Dr. Schnoor chaired the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development from 2000-2004. Recently, he served as Chair of the NRC Committee on Science for Environmental Protection in the 21st Century. He was also the Chair of the 2008 National Research Council report on The Water Implications of Biofuels Processing in the U.S. Dr. Schnoor and his students have pioneered phytoremediation, the use of plants to help clean the environment. The research involves discovering novel pathways for the uptake, storage, and metabolism of toxic organic chemicals at waste sites. Dr. Schnoor has been instrumental in the full-scale clean-up and demonstration of phytoremediation systems to remediate petrochemical contaminations, explosives contaminant remediation from groundwater using created wetlands, and the interception and treatment of groundwater plumes containing industrial chemicals. Schnoor’s publications cover a wide range of topics including water quality modeling, water sustainability, phytoremediation, and mitigation of greenhouse gases in climate change.  Jerry won the 2010 Clarke Prize from the National Water Research Institute for his work on water sustainability. In 2013, he was honored as an Einstein Professor by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.