AFTER THE DRILL
When WVU scientists examined waste from a shale natural gas drilling site near Morgantown, they found that the resulting drill cuttings, mud and produced water all had toxicity levels far below U.S. Department of Transportation standards for transporting on highways, among other findings. The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory, the first-ever long-term, comprehensive field study of shale gas resources has shown that the cuttings samples – rock removed during the well drilling – passed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for leaching toxicity. A major influence on the environmental risks of the cuttings was the use of the “green” drilling mud BioBase 365 at the well site. In sampling the wells’ waste streams, the researchers found that almost all contaminants increased through the production phase. Toxic concentrations far exceed permissible levels for drinking water or discharge to streams. Most of this water is used for subsequent hydraulic fracturing operations, and the remainder is disposed of under State underground injection well programs. The project is led by WVU and the Ohio State University in partnership with Northeast Natural Energy, Schlumberger and the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy.
WONDER OF THE WORLD
WVU is now working with one of the seven modern Wonders of the World, the Itaipu Dam, one of the top hydroelectric power producers in the world. The WVU Energy Institute entered into a partnership with the dam – run by Paraguay and Brazil – that will include collaboration on water resource management, clean water resources and the ecology surrounding them, water reclamation and solar power. Engineers, scientists and students in fields across WVU from business to natural resources to engineering will work with staff at the dam on a variety of research involving workforce and economic development, innovations in water resource management and other environmental and renewable energy projects.
A meter that was designed to measure carbon dioxide in beverages is being used to measure carbon dioxide levels in mine drainage water. And the results are high. Dorothy Vesper, associate professor of geology, and her team, using measurements from several sites and estimated values from U.S. Geological Survey data for 140 Pennsylvania mines, found the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere from those mines is the equivalent to that released from a small power plant.
CONNECTING TO WI-FI
When floodwaters are in danger of breaching containment walls, there are sensors to detect it. But it would be faster if we had a wireless sensor network to do this. Vinod Kulathumani, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, is working with researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory on the creation of a wireless multi-hop mesh networking algorithm that supports a stormwater catching system. Kulathumani said that such wireless sensor networks could also have applications in environmental monitoring, monitoring of industrial control systems and perimeter surveillance.
RENEWING THE NATION’S DAMS
Across the U.S., there are 87,000 dams, many of which could benefit from a new upgrade out of WVU. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the WVU Constructed Facilities Center designed, tested and implemented glass-fiber reinforced plastic wicket gates at the Peoria Lock and Dam on the Illinois River. It was the first installation of this new kind of wicket gates, which help maintain a navigational pool in a river by resting on the bottom and rising when the water gets too low. For their efforts, Hota GangaRao, P.V. Vijay and Mark Skidmore were part of a team awarded the 2016 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Innovation of the Year Award. The composite materials used in the project are more cost effective than traditional materials, which could alleviate costs as more than half of dams managed by the Corps have met or surpassed their intended 50-year lives.
Innovation at Work Archive
Catch up with sneak peeks and snapshots of some of the creative research, ideas and products incubating 24/7 across WVU.
This year international headlines proclaimed the news that a WVU report led to the discovery that Volkswagen had installed defeat devices in potentially millions of diesel vehicles. Catch that developing story and more here.
Our people are working on one of the seven Wonders of the World, renewing the nation's dams and creating wireless networks.
From securing your selfies, to creating mobile PET scanners, WVU is making inventions that affect your life.
Our people are preparing for working on asteroids, predicting how many fish will be in your local stream and designing tomorrow's fuel cell.