Investigators - Environmental Engineering

Faculty members pursuing energy-related research, who are affiliated with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (http://civil.mst.edu/) follow. Click on the web site for more information. Click on the e-mail address to correspond. You may also find additional information by clicking at the left on the 'Research/Publications' category.

Joel G. Burken, http://civil.mst.edu/, burken@mst.edu

Dr. Joel G. Burken's research interests (Environmental Engineering)include:

  • Green Campus initiatives. I have been in discussions with numerous entities on campus and have some momentum. I would be very happy and interested to head this effort and have invested a lot of time already.
  • Green Municipal initiatives
  • Green State initiatives… I had met with DNR in the past and had some frustrating experiences as the state's position was not one to embrace changes in energy and climate policy. Recently this has greatly changed and leadership has appeared at a state level.
  • Biomass fuels, growing woody biomass on marginal lands for direct use as a biofuel, perhaps pelletized or to in larger scale boilers/furnaces (like MST… already burns waste wood!)
  • Impacts to grid stability etc if going to a decentralized, less consistent generation. With wind and biogas energy the generation of power is less stable and less reliable, while also coming from diverse locations and perhaps unreliable methods. Is this going to cause spikes, brown-outs? This is not my expertise at all, but a concern from looking at a variety of things above. The problems we face need integrated solutions.

Energy Research Areas with high potential for external funding :

  • Animal waste to biogas and other waste to energy applications through anaerobic digestion in general. We’ve completed a US EPA project on Swine waste digestion, including impacts of antibiotics and cleaners on the viability of the process. From this we determined the potential for converting waste to biogas, which agrees with general projections for others. We also completed a waste solids digestion project for Anheuser Busch. Project was somewhat successful, and greater potential exists yet.
  • Renewable energy policy and economics. I have been working on economic models for the above application primarily, and along the way have built ties with: Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Ameren, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Dept of Natural Resources, UMC Agri-Economists, carbon credit markets and credit purchasing companies.
  • Renewable energy impacts of BioEnergy: I have a proposal out with Tom Johnson from UMC on the impacts to rural economies that are possible with a shift to bioenergy and decentralized generation.
  • Carbon Credits: I look at this as a new economic market related to the energy movement. There isa potential benefit for a state agency or company to get into this area early. For example, Iowa Farm Bureau is earning several hundred thousand per year for member farmers that are reporting carbon credit (sequestration and reduced emissions) projects. These individual projects are small and not worth putting to the market, but collectively through an agglomeration of the individuals this can be huge.

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