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Contextual engineering adds deeper perspective to local projects

URBANA, Ill. – When engineers develop drinking water systems, they often expect their technology and expertise to work in any context. But project success depends as much on the people and place as on technical design, says Ann-Perry Witmer, lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) and research scientist at the Applied Research Institute at University of Illinois.

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Five ACES faculty receive major ASABE awards

URBANA, Ill. – Five University of Illinois faculty members received major awards at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) 2020 annual international meeting. The virtual event took place July 13 to 15. Illinois recipients include Paul Davidson, Vijay Singh, Richard Cooke, and Prasanta Kalita, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and The Grainger College of Engineering, and Laura Christianson, Department of Crop Sciences, College of ACES.

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U of I researchers adapt robots to fight against COVID-19

URBANA, Ill. – Where coronavirus puts human workers at risk, robots can step in to do the job. Girish Chowdhary and his research team at the University of Illinois already have developed the robot, and they are now adapting it to current needs.

TerraSentia is a small, semi-autonomous robot that moves nimbly on the ground. A team of these robots work together, combining the speed and power of technology with the attention to detail of human labor.

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Valorizing wastewater can improve commercial viability of biomass oil production

URBANA, Ill. – ­Oil produced from biomass can provide a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. But technological challenges make it difficult to scale up production and make it economically viable.

One technology known as hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) allows for production of biocrude oil from wet biomass such as algae, food waste, or animal manure. This process sidesteps costly drying procedures; however, it creates a wastewater byproduct that is considered an environmental hazard.

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TerraSentia robots, Agricultural and Biological Engineering faculty featured in New York Times

URBANA, Ill. ­– Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) Girish Chowdhary and his research in field robotics continue to make headlines! A Feb. 13 article in the New York Times (NYT) features TerraSentia, a small, autonomous robot resulting from Chowdhary’s research at the University of Illinois.

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IBRL provides testing facilities for industrial biotechnology innovations

URBANA, Ill. – Biotechnology is a rapidly growing industry in the United States and worldwide. Consumer demand for renewable products is exploding, while advances in synthetic biology enable efficient production of bio-based ingredients. Some ethanol plants are now retrofitting their facilities to produce high-quality corn sugar products.

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Fractionation processes yield higher-quality byproducts, improve profitability of ethanol production

URBANA, Ill. – The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of bioethanol as renewable liquid fuel, with more than 200 commercial plants processing over 16 billion gallons per year. Plants typically use dry grind processing methods; however, implementing fractionation techniques that separate corn components prior to fermentation can improve profitability, a University of Illinois study shows.

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Hydrologic simulation models that inform policy decisions are difficult to interpret correctly, University of Illinois study shows

URBANA, Ill. – Hydrologic models that simulate and predict water flow are used to estimate how natural systems respond to different scenarios such as changes in climate, land use, and soil management. The output from these models can inform policy and regulatory decisions regarding water and land management practices.

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Contextual engineering improves success of projects in non-industrial societies

URBANA, Ill. – Humanitarian engineering projects often focus on bringing western technologies to non-industrialized societies. But environmental and cultural factors in these locations may be very different from conditions in the West, and the projects may not meet client needs if engineers do not fully understand the context in which they are operating.

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How preprocessing methods affect the conversion efficiency of biomass energy production

URBANA, Ill. ­– Research on energy production from biomass usually focuses on the amount of energy generated. But it is also important to consider how much energy goes into the process, a component that is often neglected, says Tony Grift, professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.

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