How to make Iowa greener: New Ecological Technologies surface in and near the Hawkeye State

Lou Licht shows off a few of the pollution-zapping poplars that grow on the few acres of land in North Liberty that he calls home. - Photo by Jim Malewitz


Dirty air, polluted waters, tainted land and flooded land. Iowa faces a myriad of environmental problems.

Thanks largely to the state’s central role in the nation’s agriculture, Iowa is widely known as the most human-altered state in the country. And it faces consequences.

Articles in this series examine some of those issues and how new technology might solve them.


Bridging outer space and soil, an ISU professor finds his calling

Brian Hornbuckle, an Iowa State University professor, is trying to improve crop yields and predict flooding by measuring soil moisture – from space.

With poplar trees, a one-time Lowden farmhand makes some green

Lou Licht, a Lowden-born engineer and entrepreneur, uses poplar trees to suck up and zap pollutants in soil, air and water.


Once permitted, green technology could cut costs for wastewater upgrades

More than 700 Iowa communities need sewer upgrades that would cost millions of dollars. Rsearchers like Lou Licht, Gene Parkin and Craig Just think they can help – if permitted.

Despite high emotions, Hyperion tar sands refinery far from realized in South Dakota

Some say that a proposed 400,000 barrel-a-day tar sands oil refinery near the Iowa-South Dakota border will employ the greenest technology. But researchers don’t know they details. The controversial plant may never be built after all as its builder slogs through the permitting process.


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