November 2, 2007

Capturing energy from unrecycleable waste

Implementing new technologies to solve chronic problems is hard work. A generation filled with expectations of instant gratification is sure to be frustrated by the seemingly slow pace of change to correct obvious environmental challenges.

Take recycling for example. In the last twenty years we have made great strides to reduce, reuse and recycle trash from our waste streams as we hover around 50% diversion from landfills throughout major portions of California. And yet, with the simultaneous growth of volume of trash, we seem unable to reduce beyond that threshold.

Beginning in 2004 the County of Los Angeles engaged in a program to take a major leap forward in reducing the accumulation of seemingly unrecycleable waste that ends up going from county material recovery facilities (MRFs) to landfills. Their vision is to deploy emerging conversion technologies at the MRF that can cleanly reduce trash volume by as much as 85% without emitting toxins or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As a substantial bonus, renewable bioenergy could be captured through the generation of green electricity and/or biofuels - depending on which specific technology is chosen.

A team of seasoned experts have just issued an evaluation report of their progress to date. Titled the Los Angeles County Conversion Technology Evaluation Report: Phase II - Assessment it details the thorough screening and evaluation of technologies from throughout the world - Israel, Japan, Europe, and the United States - that are competing for deployment at one of the county's best suited MRFs.

In recognition of the public's interest in the program's operations and environmental sustainability, public outreach programs and state regulatory reform efforts are already underway. A decision on the final site and technology to be funded will be made in early 2008. In view of the environmental costs of doing nothing and the painstaking efforts the Department of Public Works and allied agencies are making to deploy a solution that is in the best interest of all stakeholders, the decision by the parties involved in this effort is certain to be one that deserves public support.

Below is the latest (October 31, 2007) press release on the report.

County report finds viable conversion technologies to tackle Southern California's looming trash problem

Los Angeles - 36,000 tons per day! That's how much trash is deposited into landfills on a daily basis from Los Angeles County. Within a few short years, many of those landfills will be reaching capacity. This includes the Puente Hills Landfill, currently the largest operating landfill in the United States, which will close in 2013. That leaves Los Angeles with one very large problem.

After years of exhaustive research and evaluation of conversion technology facilities from around the world, the County of Los Angeles has announced the official release of a report summarizing its findings and outlining the next steps in its conversion technology program. In the next year, the County will select one or more projects to be among the first commercial-scale demonstration facilities in the United States, laying the groundwork for a fundamental shift in how the region deals with its garbage.

"Los Angeles County is promoting cutting edge technologies that have been proven effective in Japan, Israel and Europe. Trash doesn't have to be a problem, it can be a resource for clean energy and other marketable products," stated Paul Alva, chair of the County's Alternative Technology Advisory Subcommittee.

Conversion technologies encompass a variety of advanced processes that convert normal household trash into renewable energy, biofuels and useful products. These technologies provide an alternative to landfills by offering a clean and safe way to turn residual trash (which cannot be recycled economically) into a valuable resource.

"Through first hand evaluations of operational facilities in Europe, Israel, and Japan, we have found that conversion technologies are viable and environmentally friendly means of managing our solid waste," said Alva. "These technologies offer real solutions to California's waste and energy crises."

The report identifies four viable technologies that are capable of managing Southern California's residual waste in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner. In addition, the report identifies four recycling facilities where a conversion technology facility could be co-located. The County will request that these "short-listed" technology developers and recycling facilities form partnerships and submit formal proposals to be among the first commercial-scale conversion technology demonstration facilities in the United States. Early next year, a competitive bid process will determine which project will receive the County's support. A final decision will be announced by mid-2008.

The technology finalists are: Arrow Ecology (anaerobic digestion); International Environmental Solutions (pyrolysis); Interstate Waste Technologies (gasification); and Ntech Environmental (gasification). The site finalists are: Del Norte Regional Recycling and Transfer Station (Oxnard); Perris MRF/Transfer Station (Perris); Rainbow Disposal (Huntington Beach); and Robert A. Nelson Transfer Station and MRF (Rubidoux).

In conjunction with the report's release, the County has launched a new and improved conversion technology Web site. The

The mission of the Southern California Conversion Technology Demonstration Project is to evaluate and promote the most promising conversion technologies from around the globe, and work with communities throughout the region to develop demonstration facilities that showcase the technical, economic and environmental viability and benefits of conversion technologies.

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August 25, 2007

Creating products from the residuals of bioconversion

One of the true achievements that came from the development of the petroleum industry is the creative ways that have been found to dispose of refinery residuals. The entire plastics industry owes much to the innovation of chemical companies like DuPont who found ways to take the "sows ears" of petroleum and make "silk purses" out of them - fibers, plastics, fertilizers, and chemicals. Unfortunately, many of these products are not biodegradeable.

For biofuels to compete successfully with fossil fuels, every part of "the pig" will have to have a separate profit stream. Distiller dried grains (DDG) is a good example since it is the primary byproduct of the corn to ethanol fermentation process. But researchers are looking to see if there are more profitable byproducts than DDGs. And what about the residuals of emerging processes like gasification, enzymatic hydrolysis, depolymerization, biodiesel production, etc? Can we sequester carbon in some of these products?

Biopact has an excellent update on new research that seek to expand the number of profit streams that make bioconversion development more financially viable.

Steps to biorefining: new products from biofuel leftovers

The vision behind the emerging bioeconomy is the creation of integrated biorefineries that turn any given stream of biomass into an optimal range of finished products, green platform chemicals and specialty chemical compounds. The goal is to make the processing steps as efficient as possible, and to have them 'cascading' so that one bioconversion step's 'waste' stream becomes an input for a next step. Ultimately, biofuels will be just one of the many renewable, low-carbon products and compounds manufactured in the biorefinery.

Many researchers are pursuing on this concept, and the most common approach is to utilize currently available byproducts from biofuels - distillers’ dry grain from corn ethanol, lignin from cellulosic ethanol or glycerin from biodiesel - as a starting point for research. But some scientists are going further already, and are adapting the biofuel production process itself in such a way that it may yield more interesting co-products. This is the way forward to genuine biorefining.

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July 31, 2007

Navigating to Zero Waste in California

The non-profit California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) recently held its 31st annual CRRA Conference and Trade Show in the coastal city of San Pedro in Los Angeles County attracting recycling professionals from throughout the state. The theme of this year's event was "Navigating to Zero Waste." As a global leader in the environmental sustainability field...
The CRRA works to expand markets for recycled materials, promotes sustainable materials policies and is a clearinghouse for information, innovation, and industry and governmental initiatives. CRRA newsletters, workshops and conferences provide up-to-the-minute information on issues that shape the recycling and composting fields.

Responding to the goals of California's landmark Integrated Waste Management Act (AB 939) of 1989 the CRRA is to be credited for helping communities throughout the state divert over 54% of its urban waste from landfills through recycling. What goes unrecorded is the amount of waste that never makes it to the municipal recovery facilities (MRFs) through many of the coordinated programs it has helped to foster and implement to significantly reduce the source of waste. This is achieved by identifying major sources of waste production and helping the producers recognize their responsibility to streamline wasteful and waste producing practices.

Unfortunately, "Navigating to Zero Waste" will never be reached simply through application of the 3 R's (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) using existing technologies at the rate at which waste grows in the state. Even if 60% of waste is diverted, the same principal volume is likely to remain. This threatens urban landfills like L.A.'s vast Puente Hills landfill (which will close in 2013) and a San Diego landfill (which will close in 2012) and other close proximity urban repositories. The remaining refuse will then be shipped at great expense and fuel usage to outlaying landfills as far as 200 miles away.

So it was heartening to see that two of the plenary speakers were Councilmember Greig Smith and California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) member Rosalie Mulé.

Greig is a refreshing example of a local politician who responds to the voting public by listening to their concerns, enlisting professionals to create a solution, and making sure that the solution gets significant political support that will outlive the terms of the signatories. L.A.'s 20-year RENEW LA plan obligates the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation to divert unrecycled trash to biorefineries located at MRFs thereby reducing waste volume by 85% while co-generating electricity and very possibly producing biofuels (biooils and ethanol). He reported that selection of the exact technology to be implemented at the first site will be made later this summer.

Rosalie Mulé was appointed to the CIWMB by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger because of her experience working in the private sector waste industry. She reiterated the Board's commitment to advancing programs that minimize waste, manage landfills, promote producer responsibility, and maximize waste usage. She applauded the efforts of organizations such as CRRA to make California a leader in the world for how to create and implement recycling programs. During her speech she stated:
We also want to encourage innovations and technologies that will provide for the most efficient and effective management and reuse of material. There are a lot of new technologies on the horizon, some of them are proven and some of them are not but I like to compare them to space exploration. We would not have the things we have today had we not gone out there and conducted the research and done the exploration and navigated the uncharted waters.

It is time to move beyond the current established methods of waste reuse to develop new waste conversion alternatives. Many of these practices are being employed successfully in Europe and Japan where population density mandates technological solutions that place waste conversion facilities within close proximity to populated areas. We have the luxury of space but new popular standards, like AB32 the Global Warming Solutions Act, require renewed industry action on a timely basis.

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July 17, 2007

Biomass and BioWaste Conference in Pittsburg this September

I have been in touch with Dr. Ines Freesen about a new conference that her company is co-hosting that will take place between September 25-27th in Pittsburg, PA. While there is plenty of excitement about corn ethanol and the emerging technologies surrounding cellulosic ethanol, there is a dearth of press and conference content about the most revolutionary concept of all - converting municipal solid wastes, sludge, factory smoke, agricultural, and forestry waste into biofuels and electricity.

This blog is an attempt to partially correct that media deficiency but the real headway will be made when pioneers in the field of waste-to-energy congregate, network, and fully explore the potential.

According to the conference website:
"energy from biomass and waste" can make a significant contribution to oil-independence and climate protection with clean power, heat, and vehicle fuels. The technology opens up new earning potentials and markets (domestic & international) for the waste management & power generation industry, as well as for new market players such as the agricultural sector. With this event we want to create the leading North American showcase and educational forum for this growth business.

Here is the press release from last February (posted on the Renewable Energy Access website) about the German/American collaborators behind this event.

German-American Partnership To Promote Energy From Biomass and Waste
Freesen & Partner and Steel City Biofuels sign agreement to promote green energy, create international marketplace
Press Release from Freesen & Partner GmbH
Alpen,NRW, Germany / Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 21-Fe-07

The benefits of biofuels seem clear enough: they can provide a safe, sustainable domestic resource. But what does this mean for the business owner, for municipalities, the farm economy? How can the utilization of oilseed crops, switchgrass, manure, landfill gas, or residential waste make a significant contribution to save on energy and recycling costs, to reduce harmful emissions and create jobs?

Two partners from both sides of the Atlantic have joined forces to raise visibility for these issues and to create a forum that provides answers and practical assistance. Freesen & Partner GmbH, a Germany-based trade show organizer, and Steel City Biofuels, a Pennsylvania non-for-profit organization signed an agreement to use the EBW Expo & Conference, held on September 25-27, 2007 in Pittsburgh, PA to create an educational forum tailored to the information needs of multiple stakeholders.

The agreement was signed on February 15 as part of a ceremony for the signing of a Declaration of Cooperation between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of North-Rhine Westfalia (NRW). Dr. Ines Freesen, Managing Director of Freesen & Partner, and Nathaniel Doyno, Executive Director of Steel City Biofuels, were joined by Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and NRW Minister President Dr. Juergen Ruettgers.
"We are very excited about this new venture", comments Ines Freesen. "The time is right to think about what can be done with biomass and waste to reduce the world's unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels, and there could be no better place than Pennsylvania to hold the EBW Expo & Conference. Together with Steel City Biofuels we will create a truly international forum that offers hands-on information to a wide range of energy users and 'waste producers'."

"Thanks to the leadership of Governor Rendell and DEP Secretary McGinty Pennsylvania is poised to become a national leader in the production of energy from biomass and waste", says Nathaniel Doyno. "Steel City Biofuels is very excited to partner with Freesen & Partner on this venture because we feel that the EBW Expo provides an ideal platform to bring together the technology providers, energy users, investors, policy makers, and researchers that can really launch these industries."

The agreement is focused on:
- creating educational forums during EBW tailored to the needs of multiple stakeholders, including investors, farmers, green energy producers, cities and municipalities, businesses, students, and university researchers
- determining different options and media to promote the expo and conference to all relevant stakeholders in Pennsylvania, the United States, North-Rhine Westafalia, Germany, and other regions
- organizing site tours to bioenergy and energy-from-waste projects in South Western Pennsylvania during EBW
- develop business opportunities for Pennsylvania and German companies

About Freesen & Partner:
Freesen & Partner GmbH (F&P) is a consulting and event management firm specialized in the field of energy and environmental technology. F&P owns the "Energy from Biomass and Waste" (EBW) Expo & Conference, to be held on September 25-27, 2007 in Pittsburgh, PA. EBW's mission is to educate all relevant stakeholders about the ecological and economical benefits of clean energy, and to create an international marketplace for bioenergy and energy-from-waste technologies in Pennsylvania.

About Steel City Biofuels:
Steel City Biofuels, Inc. (SCB) is a project of the Pennsylvania Resources Council, Inc. that is building the awareness, policy and infrastructure necessary for the widespread production and use of biofuels in South Western Pennsylvania. SCB pursues this mission through education, demonstration, research, and advocacy. SCB's foundation is a diverse network of partnerships that link individuals, farmers, schools, non-profits, community organizations, businesses, and governmental agencies.

For Further Information
EBW Expo & Conference Website
Steel City Biofuels website
"waste to energy" website

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July 16, 2007

Envirepel: Gasified waste-to-electricity in San Diego

I received a welcomed message from Anthony Arand, CEO of Envirepel Energy, Inc. who wished to clarify and expand on what has been reported here on the SDG&E press release:

I enjoyed reading your columns in trying to figure out what is our company really up to. Biomass diversion contracts? Honestly, that is the first time I have heard that terminology applied to a utility or us. Please allow me to fill you in on some of the specifics.

In San Diego County green waste is diverted as is all MSW waste via recycling, it has nothing to do with the Utility. SDG&E is after Renewable Portfolio Standard qualified suppliers of electricity, plain and simple. The connection of green waste and energy projects being restricted to green waste is incorrect.

There hasn't been a new combustion design for any type of solid feed stocks in over 50 years, the one we selected was first published in 1912, and this is where people tend to focus the discussion, on the technology. Think of it this way, people compare cars for horsepower, performance and emissions in a discussion about the type of engine the car many times have you heard them discuss the suspension, braking system, catalytic converter material selection, radiator size, or pressure drop across the system that allows the "car" to perform ?

You really don't care what technology you use, you care that the integration of those technologies (the system) works together to deliver the goals of the project. The key to clean energy generation with low emissions is to design a facility from top to bottom for that purpose using multiple technologies that when combined deliver what you want. That is what our company has done, and it is not typical to an industry controlled by bankers who don't care about the environment, and don't want to spend a nickel more than absolutely necessary to make money from a project.

Here are the design targets we set out to deliver with our facility design:

1. It can't produce emissions numbers above 15 ppm of regulated pollutants to stay under the air emissions offset thresholds for a 60 MW facility
2. It can't produce noise emissions (it has to be quiet and not bother the neighbors)
3. The fuel can't smell up the neighbor hood (ie, keep it inside the building)
4. The building has to stay under 45 feet tall from a land use building code perspective with all the equipment inside
5. After initial start up and capacity testing is complete, the solid fuel facility has to be dispatchable from zero capacity to full capacity in under 10 minutes
6. The facility has to be able to process and operate on any fuel stock (biomass includes wood, green waste, MSW, and non-recyclables)
7. A structural safety factor of three on all designs (earthquake country), and a performance safety factor of two on all system components, especially the emissions systems (reliability through redundant capacity)
8. All equipment, facility layout, and employee related safety issues are compliant with OSHA
9. Zero discharge facility from a water use or rainfall run-off facility.
10. Harvest as many pollutants and green house gases in the exhaust system as can be collected for re-use and resale (don't let money go out the exhaust)

We selected a modified gasification combustion system capable of running on any feed stocks to meet the needs of the facility design and are permitting the first ones on green waste to prove out the facility design before we construct facilities on landfills that run on post-recycled MSW.

Normally a developer only develops the site, somebody else builds it, a couple of banks then own it, and some poor schmuck gets selected to operate it and prays to the heavens that the guys the "developed" it didn't forget crucial issues on the equipment design and layout.

We chose not to go that route and went down the path to design, build, own and operate our facilities. That means we staffed up with engineers, planning, fabrication, machine shop equipment, and set about building our own equipment for our own projects.

We have operated our one to one scale demonstration test cell to show that the combustion system produces the low emissions we claimed, and our first facility in Vista will demonstrate how the system works when producing electricity with all the rest of the system equipment hooked up. The next three smaller projects are also all on green waste (easy to get and no significant air emissions issues) that allow us to flush out any design problems with the system (i.e are the bearings big enough on the conveyor belts, or is one grinder really capable of holding up to the load or should we use two types of operational and reliability issues).

After that, the system fuel stock shifts to post recycled MSW on all future sites, which happen to be landfills, and we help California truly become a Zero Waste State.

I hope that helps shed a little light on what we are doing.

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June 13, 2007

Green Waste Gasified to Electricity in CA

Almost one year ago, I posted an entry on the diversion of green waste clippings from landfills to be used as biostock for a California utility electrical plant. The Bull Moose announcement was one of many planned by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) not only for biomass, but also solar and wind projects.

Yesterday another similar biomass diversion contract was announced involving a different supplier to SDG&E. Envirepel Energy, Inc. received the go-ahead on June 14th to build the 90MW Fallbrook Facility. It is the first of four separately sited facilities Enviropel is designing to supply 240MW of electricity to SDGE.

A big question concerns the amount of emissions that will be generated by the facility. Here is what Envirepel has to say about that:
Total air emissions as viewed from the stack exiting into the surrounding air are expected to be in the range as follows:

Particulates Less than 5 tons per year
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Less than 10 tons per year
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Less than 15 tons per year
Sulfur Oxides (SOx) Less than 5 tons per year
Hydrocarbons (THC) Less than 5 tons per year
Total Emissions @ 45 MW generation is approximately 40 tons per year

That's not enough to require an air emissions offset credit permit (those permits that are so costly for big natural gas fired power plants to get)...think about that, a renewable, organic power plant that doesn't pollute? That is our design goal, setting a new standard for how you should do it, not the cheapest way or the easiest, or the business as usual: way it's been done throughout the industry, but the right way to do it for today's needs.

Here is the full text of the SDG&E press release.

DG&E to expand use of biomass energy
Utility seeks to acquire more renewable energy with latest solicitation

SAN DIEGO, June 12, 2007 – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today announced it has signed a supply contract with Envirepel Energy, Inc. for renewable, biomass energy that will be online by October 2007. SDG&E also reported that it has received nearly 5,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable-energy-supply proposals in response to the utility’s most recent renewable Request for Offers (RFO) solicitation that ended May 30, 2007.

Every year since 2002, SDG&E has solicited supply bids for renewable power to meet California’s mandate of having 20 percent of its energy portfolio come from clean resources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal by 2010. Envirepel’s agreement is the result of an earlier competitive solicitation. Biomass power results from burning plant-based materials such as wood.

“We are excited about the new renewable energy contract with Envirepel and with the overwhelming response we received for supplying green energy to our grid,” said Debra L. Reed, president and chief executive officer for SDG&E. “Developers are signaling their willingness to build these renewable projects. We are committed to providing the transmission pathway necessary to ensure renewable energy from any of the projects developed reaches San Diego.”

The nearly 5,000 megawatts proposed in the most recent RFO represents a mixture of renewable energy, including about 2000 MW of wind, 2,700 MW of solar, and 300 MW of geothermal, biomass and landfill gas. Several of the proposals submitted would require the addition of new transmission infrastructure to deliver energy to San Diego customers.

Today, SDG&E is more than half-way toward meeting its 2010 goal with approximately 12 percent of its future energy supply under contract to be delivered from renewable sources.

SDG&E’s contract with Envirepel will now be submitted to the CPUC for review and final approval. SDG&E’s final selection of the renewable-energy bids will be based on least-cost, best-fit procurement criteria and will be reviewed by the Procurement Review Group, comprised of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) staff, consumer advocates and other non-market participants, and an independent evaluator prior to being submitted to the CPUC for final approval.

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May 31, 2007

May 2007 Digest

Tying Energy Efficiency to Renewable Energy

Lost in the rush to develop alternative energy technologies is the obvious value of making energy usage more efficient. As Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute would say, "a watt saved is a watt earned." This can be applied to biofuel usage as well. It is far cheaper to save energy than it is to produce more of it, particularly when existing technologies are so wasteful.

In marked contrast to the oil crisis of the 70's when cars lined up on even or odd license number days to tank up on gasoline and speed limits were held to 55 MPH to conserve energy, there has been little preaching by this administration - or the states for that matter - to slow down and use less. Memorial Day weekend driving plans were little impacted by recent gas price spikes. Auto shows still promote performance over gas use efficiency.

It is highly unlikely that the laudable goals of the 25x'25 Initiative for reducing fossil fuel dependence will be reached if we persist in inefficient usage of our energy resources or, in fact, grow our demand beyond current expectations. Similarly, while developing renewable energy (RE) technologies, energy efficiency (EE) needs to be built into the systems.

In a joint report presented by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficency Economy (ACEEE) case studies are showcased that demonstrate the synergies available when RE and EE are developed together. For installations that have such long lifespans and high capital costs, it is important to address efficiency challenges during early planning.

Here are links to stories that were posted in the BioEnergy BlogRing during May, 2007:

BIOstock Blog--------------
Clean Wood replaces Coal Power Plant in N.H.
U.S. paper & pulp industry assesses its bioenergy future

BIOconversion Blog--------------
Molecular visualization of the bioconversion process
U.S. State Dept. to host 2008 Int'l Renewable Energy Conference
IPCC 4th Assessment: Steps to mitigate climate change
U.S. D.O.E./E.I.A. International Energy Outlook 2007

BIOoutput Blog--------------
Tying Energy Efficiency to Renewable Energy
California's electricity - Phasing out coal
Amory Lovins - RMI and the Hypercar

Each month we provide a similar breakdown of article titles from our favorite "companion" site - Biopact Blog. This list is kept current and is accessible in the right hand column of each of the three blogs.

Please forward a link to this digest to anyone you know who would be interested in keeping track of change that will affect us all. They can add their name to the mailing list on the BioConversion Blog.

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April 30, 2007

April 2007 Digest

Woody Biomass - Energizing a new generation

America is witnessing the balkanization of its renewable energy portfolio. The sun belt is home to solar energy. The corn belt is home to ethanol. Landfill bioenergy is focused in urban areas. The nation's woodpiles are in the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast. Each region will have to come to grips with the economic, technical, environmental, and cultural changes that will be necessary build, market, and sustain development in their communities. NIMBY-ism will be a constant, frustrating impediment to many grand schemes.

We have seen the impact that ethanol has played in the cornbelt. Its communities have embraced the technologies - not without some consternation from its livestock industry. Individual farmers have banded together to form cooperatives to build ethanol plants. Agricultural giants like ADM and Cargill are re-evaluating how they can realign their business units to capitalize on their waste and biomass assets. Politicians are displaying uncharacteristic bipartisanship on ag/energy issues.

Following this model, we are now witnessing an emerging focus in the southeastern U.S. - home to communities that are committed now and in future generations to forestry and wood-related companies. 44% of the existing renewable energy generated in the U.S. comes from and is used by this industry - mostly generated from woody waste accumulating at paper and pulp mills. Landowners are eying biorefinery plans for the region to see if it makes sense to form cooperatives. Moribund mills and chemical factories that have lost business to foreign competition are now viewed as possible sites for new bioenergy ventures since they already have supply and distribution infrastructure in place.

The best resource of the region is the character of the indigenous citizens. Unfailingly patriotic but often regarded as the underappreciated step-children of America, many communities of the Southeast are eager to finally have an opportunity to contribute their regional ingenuity, brawn, and industrial capacity to the national effort to end American addiction to foreign oil. It is, after all, the young, proud southern recruit that continues to carry the bulk of the national security burden caused by this addiction.

As a political footnote, presidential aspirants interested in a Southern strategy should remember that in 2000 Gore lost ALL the states in the region - including his home state of Tennessee which would have put him in the White House. A commitment to woody bioenergy development of the region would be well received. It is not clear that the same can be said of the Pacific Northwest.

Here are links to stories that were posted in the BioEnergy BlogRing during April, 2007:

BIOstock Blog--------------
E3 Biofuels and Closed Loop Ethanol Plants
The need for Public Outreach: a case study in China
BIOstock 101: The BioTown Sourcebook
Woody Biomass Utilization and the USDA Forest Service
Development alliance builds between forest and energy giants
Hybrid poplars reduce carbon emissions best
Thinning trees to save ecology
In-Woods Expo 2007 Harvests Energy

BIOconversion Blog--------------
Industrial Symbiosis: Creating eco-industrial parks
Latin America's Blueprint for Green Energy
BIOconversion 101: The BioTown Sourcebook
EPA releases comprehensive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program
Converting Biomass to Hydrogen
D.O.E. to fund ADM/Purdue cellulosic ethanol project
Friedman Multi-media on "The Power of Green"
Biomass Gasification at the "Chin-dia" price

BIOoutput Blog--------------
Good News from the DOE about Carbon Sequestration
BIOoutput 101: The BioTown Sourcebook

BIOwaste Blog--------------
BIOwaste 101: The BioTown Sourcebook
Hurdles to Waste Conversion Technologies
Smokestack emissions as feedstock for ethanol

Each month we provide a similar breakdown of article titles from our favorite "companion" site - Biopact Blog. This list is kept current and is accessible in the right hand column of each of the three blogs.

Please forward a link to this digest to anyone you know who would be interested in keeping track of change that will affect us all. They can add their name to the mailing list on the BioConversion Blog.

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April 29, 2007

Smokestack emissions as feedstock for ethanol

Khosla Ventures is turning its eye onto new businesses that are developing bioconversion processes for turning smokestack emissions into marketable biofuels - mainly ethanol. Such technologies offer the prospect of retrofitting carbon spewing combustion furnaces and boilers with energy saving bioreactors that, with the right combination of nutrients and organisms, can feed on the toxic gases and convert it into ethanol.

Here is the bulk of their recent press release..

LanzaTech NZ Ltd Secures Series A Funding From Khosla Ventures for Ethanol Production From Carbon Monoxide in Waste Gases

LanzaTech, the leader in technology using bacterial fermentation to convert carbon monoxide into ethanol, today officially announced it has secured US$3.5M in Series A funding, led by Khosla Ventures and supported by two existing New Zealand based investors. This funding will support further technology development, establishing a pilot plant, engineering work to prepare for commercial-scale ethanol production and positions the company to raise significant capital in the near future.

This technology could produce 50 billion gallons of ethanol from the world's steel mills alone, turning the liability of carbon emissions into valuable fuels worth over $50 billion per year at very low costs and adding substantial value to the steel industry. The technology will also be a key contributor to the cellulosic biofuels business as it can convert syngas produced through gasification into ethanol.
"We have proven in our laboratories that the carbon monoxide in industrial waste gases such as those generated during steel manufacture can be processed by bacterial fermentation to produce ethanol. Garnering the financial and strategic support of Khosla Ventures is a significant validation of our approach, and we welcome Khosla Ventures Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Doug Cameron, to our Board of Directors," said Dr. Sean Simpson, Chief Scientist and Founder of LanzaTech.

Vinod Khosla commented, "technology to produce fuel ethanol from waste material, such as the carbon monoxide produced in steel manufacture and other industries, makes use of a low cost and plentiful point source carbon feedstock. The opportunity is a large one as carbon monoxide is a significant by-product of steel manufacture. LanzaTech has developed technology and a process to cost-effectively convert carbon monoxide into ethanol -- this ground breaking technology provides the tools to address the challenge of reducing emissions and turns waste into a valuable product, while developing new businesses based on innovative science."

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April 22, 2007

Hurdles to Waste Conversion Technologies

At the 23rd Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference in San Diego April 16th, 2007, Coby Skye of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (LA/DPW) gave a presentation about the hurdles waste conversion technologies (CTs) face in Southern California.

Coby leads a group within the Solid Waste Management Committee/Integrated Waste Management Task Force (SWMC) that has been given the responsibility of recommending a CT for construction of a demonstration facility in Los Angeles that would be co-located with a materials recovery facility (MRF). The objective is to provide a first step toward significant diversion of otherwise un-recyclable waste from landfill to conversion into biofuels, green electricity, and bioproducts. Among the five technologies under review are Arrow Ecology (anaerobic digestion), Interstate Waste Technologies (pyrolysis/gasification), Changing World Technologies (thermal depolymerization), International Environmental Solutions (pyrolysis), and Ntech Environmental (gasification).

During his presentation, Coby cited many of the hurdles that the LA/DPW expects to face aside from the substantial technological ones.
The three main that we have been facing, especially in California, are Cost, Regulatory Hurdles, and Misconceptions.

Cost is an issue because landfill disposal in California is relatively cheap. We still have landfills within Los Angeles County that charge $25 or so per ton. It is very difficult for a new technology that doesn’t have the infrastructure to compete. That’s definitely going to change as we move forward. We are disposing in farther locations. There’s going to be more regulations on landfills due to AB32 (California’s Global Warming Solutions legislation) and other laws relating to environmental controls to limit greenhouse gas emissions. So we are going to see costs, probably within a decade, going toward the $75-$100/ton range. The technologies we are looking at would fall between the $50-$75 per ton range. You can see how the changes in the economy and the markets will come very quickly.

The Regulatory Hurdles [suffer] from not having any kind of framework. We are looking at our demonstration project as we are moving forward and we are not sure which permits will be required or how they will be processed. There is no “check box” for us [indicating allowable technologies] when we are trying to permit these. As a government agency we want to make sure that we go through every requirement and meet or exceed every environmental regulation so it is especially a challenge for us when we have regulations that don’t exist for the facility that we want to develop or that are unrealistic - for example, the zero air emissions requirement that is currently a statute.

The third challenge is Misconceptions. There are environmental groups that perceive all of these technologies or some of them as the same as incineration. We want to make sure that the public that is going to be most impacted by these facilities understand what they really are and [we want to know] what their concerns might be so we can address these concerns as early on in the process as possible. That is why Los Angeles County has a public outreach component specifically for relating with the public and for accurately getting the word out about conversion technologies.

Tens of millions of dollars are being invested in an effort to face the future squarely now, to begin a process to mitigate the challenges posed by growing trash demands, shrinking landfills, greenhouse gas emissions, and the need for renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels. The efforts of the LA/DPW to surmount these hurdles are commendable.

However, it is imperative that the public outreach program succeed in painting an accurate assessment of the looming dangers of the status quo and the necessity of allowing the utilities to deploy new clean technologies in their neighborhoods. It is imperative that the CA state legislature enact regulatory reform that will enable practical, expensive developments such as this LA/DPW demonstration project to proceed.

So far these efforts have been derailed by the political power of well-meaning but mis-directed "environmental" groups who are stubbornly misinformed about the difference between incineration and gasification. The costs of delay and of doing nothing far outweigh the perceived dangers of deployment, especially given the strict oversight of the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB).

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April 7, 2007

BIOwaste 101: The BioTown Sourcebook

For anyone who desires a simple introduction to the subject of Biomass Waste I suggest a careful reading of a brief technical overview document called The BioTown, USA Sourcebook of Biomass Energy (released in April, 2006). It was written for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture by scientist and fellow blogger, Mark Jenner, PhD. who has his own website called Biomass Rules. Mark is particularly well schooled on the subject of biosolids, manure, and sludge conversion.

Below you can see an overview graphic that charts where biomass feedstocks (highlighted in blue) fall in proper context for addressing BIOconversion, BIOoutput, and BIOstock issues. For this reason, I offer a similar 101 abstract treatment in each of my BlogRing blogs.

This BioTown sourcebook is the official inventory on local energy use, available biomass fuels and emerging technologies for Reynolds, Indiana. As such, it can serve as an inventory template for any similarly focused study of a medium-sized rural community. It greater importance is its microcosmic view of rural communities as decentralized, sustainable entities that possess more than enough biomass to service their own energy needs.

Within the third section of the report a generous amount of detail if given to a subject that generally escapes most discussions about biofuels and bioenergy - its energy content and how it can be converted to useful form. He addresses Manure, Municipal Sewage/Biosolids, and Municipal Solid Wastes. He emphasizes the high variability of manure:

The point is that manure has a high degree of variability. In this case, it is easy to this variability using hog manure nutrients and technology as an example. Starting with the same basic fresh manure, different treatment technologies achieved different results. Successful conversion technologies must be designed and managed to remove the variability by segregating non-similar flows or combining them consistently into an aggregate flow. Biomass feedstock variability is a challenge, but it can be managed by system design.

The subjects of biodiesel converted from used vegetable oil and number 2 yellow grease are also addressed.

In this particular community, landfill gas is used to drive methane electric generators - which is far preferable to having it vented or flared. However, he admits:

Some biomass energy advocates argue that landfill gas is not the best use of biomass energy resources. This argument is based on the sheer volume of underutilized biomass going into a landfill. Using the EPA breakdown of organic, biomass materials going into a landfill (65 percent), 355,678 tons of the 547,197 tons of MSW entering the Liberty Landfill are biomass feedstocks. Using the value of 4,830 BTU/lb, 356,000 tons of landfilled-biomass materials contain 3.4 million MMBTUs. That is a lot of underutilized fuel. This new separation and energy production process would not be as simple as it sounds and would require significant changes in the current collection system.

This report is not a utopian call to return to rural, communal living. It is, instead, an affirmation that there are many biomass resources available and technologies in development to provide environmentally clean bioenergy alternatives to the existing fossil fuel energy paradigm. Rural communities can develop expertise and marketable output best suited to their own resources and industries. Urban communities can develop some technologies that are relevant to the diversion of trash from landfills.

The BioTown, USA Sourcebook of Biomass Energy

BioTown, USA is Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniel’s, bold approach to develop local renewable energy production, create a cleaner environment, find new solutions to municipal/animal waste issues, and develop new markets for Indiana products – all at the same time. BioTown, USA is quite simply the conversion of Reynolds, Indiana from a reliance on fossil fuels to biomass-based fuels. With the implementation of BioTown, USA, a template will be set that simultaneously promotes Indiana energy security, rural development, profitable agriculture and a green, thriving natural resource environment.

The only conclusion that can be made is that BioTown, USA is profoundly thermodynamically and technologically viable. Reynolds, Indiana used 227,710 million BTUs (MMBTU) in 2005. White County annually produces over 16,881,613 MMBTU in undeveloped biomass energy resources. That is 74 times more energy than Reynolds consumed in 2005.

BioTown, USA is a concept whose time has come. This Sourcebook and subsequent BioTown reports will serve as vital stepping stones to the implementation of BioTown, USA and subsequent bioeconomic rural development opportunities across Indiana and the nation.

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March 31, 2007

March 2007 Digest

Bridging the Gap to Biofuels

When it comes to energy, we are all stakeholders – whether we are producers, refiners, developers, educators, policymakers, marketers, regulators, environmentalists, distributors, farmers, foresters, or simply commuters... we are all consumers with a vested interest in future development of renewable energy in concert with environmental sustainability.

Even though there is a growing global recognition that something must be done to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate carbon emissions, the potential for endless debate over the means to these ends is threatened by delays. We need to act now.

The success of any mission to achieve 25x’25 or Twenty in Ten is more dependent on our willingness to communicate and work together than it is on our technical achievements. Why? I am convinced it will take collaboration between all stakeholders to develop and deploy these emerging technologies.

Having attended three important conferences this month, perhaps the most important lesson I can share is one for “bridging the gap” that I learned at 25x’25. When negotiating all parties must take an attitude of “Yes, if...” rather than “No, because...”

For example, “Will you agree...?”:
• “Yes, if you will guarantee...
• “Yes, if you can convince...
• “Yes, if you can match...
• “Yes, if you will commit...

Without the proper spirit of collaboration no compact between stakeholders will be sustainable – even if the technology is.

BIOstock Blog--------------
Will dead trees revive forest industries?
Why ethanol from wood makes sense
The Canadian action plan against the Mountain Pine Beetle
25x'25 Summit pressures U.S. Congress to act
Environmentalists and industrialists meet at the BioEnergy Wiki

BIOconversion Blog--------------
Multi-prong approach enhances energy security
ACORE wins BIG in Vegas
So. California Air Quality (AQMD) looks at Cellulosic Ethanol
BIO World Congress is bio-energized by cellulosic ethanol

BIOoutput Blog--------------
Using fungi to produce ethanol & biodegradeable material

BIOwaste Blog--------------
Producing hydrogen from wastewater and MSW
Fortune looks at waste source reduction

Each month we provide a similar breakdown of article titles from our favorite "companion" site - Biopact Blog. This list is kept current and is accessible in the right hand column of each of the three blogs.

Please forward a link to this digest to anyone you know who would be interested in keeping track of change that will affect us all. They can add their name to the mailing list on the BioConversion Blog.

March 15, 2007

Fortune looks at waste source reduction

California generates roughly 40 million tons of unrecyclable waste each year. When asked what alternatives do recycling activists have planned for diverting this waste from landfills the first response is usually "source reduction."

Is source reduction a realistic answer to the problem of landfills? Will it satisfy the needs of urban centers like Los Angeles which are running out of landfill space at an alarming rate - faster than even herculean efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle can attain? Marc Gunther of Fortune magazine recently wrote a positive yet simplistic sounding essay on the subject.

While any reduction is a welcome development, it stretches credibility to believe that source reduction alone will solve the landfill problem - particularly in a free enterprise and free trade country that imports more than it produces. The costs of re-engineering will impact competitive pricing ceding even more business to developing countries not saddled with our idealism.

Here are some excerpts from Marc's article...

The end of garbage
Can you imagine a world of zero waste? Cities and towns across the world - and a surprising number of companies - have adopted that goal, says Fortune's Marc Gunther
By Marc Gunther, Fortune senior writer

Zero waste is just what it sounds like - producing, consuming, and recycling products without throwing anything away. Getting to a wasteless world will require nothing less than a total makeover of the global economy, which thinkers such as entrepreneur Paul Hawken, consultant Amory Lovins, and architect William McDonough have called the Next Industrial Revolution.

They want industry to mimic biology, where one species' excrement is another's food. "We're not talking here about eliminating waste," McDonough explains. "We're talking about eliminating the entire concept of waste."

While the concept of zero waste is as old as nature, recycling is newer. In 1968, Madison, Wis., became the first U.S. city to offer curbside recycling, for newspapers. Recycling got a boost with Earth Day in 1970, and again after the EPA imposed strict regulations on landfills in 1991. When done right, recycling saves energy, preserves natural resources, reduces greenhouse-gas emissions, and keeps toxins from leaking out of landfills.

"When you look at a dumpster, you see trash," David Redfield says. "When I look at it, I see materials and money." Redfield, a Bentonville, Ark., native who has put in 15 years at Wal-Mart, is the man in charge of getting the world's biggest retailer closer to its zero-waste goal. It's good for the planet, he says, and for the company's bottom line. As Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott has explained, "If we had to throw it away, we had to buy it first. So we pay twice: once to get it, once to take it away."

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March 10, 2007

Producing hydrogen from wastewater and MSW

At the recent ACORE-sponsored Power-Gen Renewable Energy & Fuels conference in Las Vegas I met briefly with Dana Allen of a nano-biotechnology company called NanoLogix. They are presently operating a hydrogen bioreactor at Welch's Food and have recently signed an agreement with the City of Erie Wastewater Treatment Plant for a prototype bioreactor installation. The company is also conducting research on the bio-remediation of air, water and soils of harmful contaminants.

The technology behind the hydrogen bioreactor, developed and proprietary to NanoLogix, is intended to enable manufacturing facilities to convert their waste stream into hydrogen. The alternative energy source then can be converted, on-site, to electricity, thus contributing immediately to the manufacturing facilities bottom line.

Their website features a compressed video of an interview with WICU TV news of their Hydrogen Bioreactor currently installed at Welch Foods in Pennsylvania. Using their patented technology and bacteria, they are able to isolate hydrogen from wastewater. There is another video that shows a converted "lawn mower" engine running on hydrogen and emitting nothing more than water vapor from its exhaust.

Dr. Mitchell Felder, Founder of Nanologix, states, "The success NanoLogix has had in converting the waste stream at Welch's into hydrogen is indicative of the extremely exciting possibi1ities for continuous generation of hydrogen in the future." Professor Rick Diz of Gannon University, the lead scientist in the project and consultant to NanoLogix stated: "I am pleased to confirm the bioreactor at Welch's is producing hydrogen. Gas chromatography confirmed hydrogen and no methane."

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February 28, 2007

February 2007 Digest

The IPCC finally released their long-awaited summary of findings on global warming. Al Gore's movie won the Oscar for Best Documentary. Does that mean that people are finally convinced of the truth about global warming? Does it matter?

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the state of the atmosphere without having to declare one way or the other on the issue of global warming. Living in Los Angeles, raising a daughter with lifelong battles with allergies, bronchial congestion, and asthmatic inhalers, I am more concerned with particulate matter and reactive organic gases than I am about gradual global temperature increases due to greenhouse gas. No one has to convince me that we need to act now to clean up the air we breathe.

As ACORE attests, a welcome consequence of a switch to renewable fuels is that we will move closer to a carbon-neutral balance for our atmosphere. If we can simultaneously reduce our mountains of decaying trash and fire-prone wood waste to produce biofuels through bioconversion, so much the better for our environment.

BIOstock Blog--------------
SunOpta goes global with steam explosion biomass pre-treatment
Wood beats corn stover in U.S. cellulosic ethanol race
"Green Tags" reward Renewable Energy development
Trees-for-Fuel Biomass Plants Mitigate Fires

BIOconversion Blog--------------
BP invests in UC Berkeley/UIUC Biosciences Institute
Banking big on Renewable Energy
Corn Sugar Fermentation - Educational Videos
Wood beats corn stover in U.S. cellulosic ethanol race
Online game is a Climate Challenge
U.S. DOE backs funding of six cellulosic ethanol biorefinery projects

BIOoutput Blog--------------
The IPCC Report solution? Renewable Energy.
Green Options is the place to be
California's Transportation Action Plan targets 2020
INDY 500: Drivers, start your ethanol-fueled engine
Clean and Efficient Biogas Fuel Cells

BIOwaste Blog--------------
PyroGenesis' BIOwaste Conversion Systems
Small Town with a BIG green vision
Green Options for Recycled Paper

Each month we provide a similar breakdown of article titles from our favorite "companion" site - Biopact Blog. This list is kept current and is accessible in the right hand column of each of the three blogs.

Please forward a link to this digest to anyone you know who would be interested in keeping track of change that will affect us all. They can add their name to the mailing list on the BioConversion Blog.

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February 18, 2007

Green Options for Recycled Paper

Megan Prusynski of Green Options has written a good review of the state of the industry in recycled papers. Citing EPA statistics that paper makes up 35% of our waste stream but less than half of that (48%) is recovered for recycling, the graphic designer implores her readers to think more about the alternatives to using virgin paper (paper made from trees). Her research is very helpful because graphic designers would use more recycled paper if they had a ready reference on where to get it.
Conservatree's choosing paper guide begins with a very good recommendation: "The first step in choosing paper is to evaluate how to reduce paper use so that you're only using what's truly needed. Reducing paper use is probably the most important step we can take to save trees and resources and prevent waste."

Megan recommends several online sites to search for alternatives:
• "One of my favorites is renourish. This site is a complete guide for designers who want to become more sustainable and includes information on which types of paper are most environmentally-friendly and what to look for when choosing a sustainable paper. "
• "Celery Design Collaborative has a very comprehensive list of sustainable papers available from a variety of companies."
• "Neenah Paper offers several sustainable options, including Neenah Green Papers and the Environment line of papers. They even have an Environmental Savings Calculator so you can see how many resources you would save by choosing a greener paper."
• "Mohawk Fine Papers also offers recycled choices and many papers produced using wind power.
• "SMART Papers is another large paper company with high environmental standards.
• "Yupo and Polyart provide synthetic tree-free papers.

She then adds a few more specialty paper companies:
While the big paper companies often dedicate only part of their entire product line to sustainable papers, there are smaller companies who produce only sustainable paper. EcoPaper produces papers and stationery that utilize not only recycled paper fibers, but natural tree-free fibers from bananas, coffee, lemons, and even cigars! Green Field Paper Company produces paper that is made with a mix of recycled fibers and renewables like hemp, which is stronger and can be recycled more times than regular paper. They also make paper out of recycled junk mail and coffee, along with some beautiful cards called Grow-A-Note that have seeds embedded in the paper fibers so that the cards can simply be planted after use. Vision Paper produces paper from kenaf, a quick growing plant with a high fiber yield.

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February 8, 2007

Small Town with a BIG green vision

Although located near the site of two famous Bull Run battles of the Civil War, the rural community of Warrenton, Virginia is not the kind of place you would normally expect to find revolutionary figures. Yet the town's mayor, George Fitch, envisions a future of green choice and self-reliance for his community by converting local waste and crops into bioenergy - ethanol for cars and green electricity for the grid. He may be one point of light that ignites the imagination and energy of thousands with a similar vision throughout the nation - and the world.

Apparently, someone on the U.S. Senate Energy Committee decided it was a perspective that needed closer inspection. At its Transportation Biofuels Conference on February 1, this small town mayor was a featured speaker along with representatives from Ford, Chevron, MIT, and the American Corn Growers Association.

An advocate of decentralized waste diversion into energy production Fitch's message is that local communities can be a major contributor to the goal of 20 billion gallons of renewable fuel. He said he has embarked on a plan for an integrated biorefinery at a landfill site which would produce 10 million gallons of ethanol and 8MW of electricity from a wide variety of wastes and residues.

“Most of the feedstocks would come from municipal solid wastes including construction debris which now are being buried at the landfill emitting greenhouse gases. This amounts to more than 100,000 tons annually of useable waste that can be converted into energy. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from a biorefinery using wastes would be over 50%,” Mayor Fitch commented.

“We’ve estimated there are about 10,000 tons of forest residues, 5,000 to 20,000 tons of collectible agriculture residue and another 5,000 to 7,000 tons of sewer sludge and animal manures which could be used as feedstock for the plant. “I’ve been told there are more carbons in a 10 cent bushel of manure than a $4 bushel of corn.” the Mayor said.

“We don’t expect to get much of the agriculture residue at the beginning because it will take awhile to solve the infrastructure problem of efficiently harvesting, gathering, storing and transporting the corn stover Right now, it’s trial and error. We hope to involve John Deere which has developed a machine that allows just a single pass to pick up the grain and the residue at the same time. This would reduce the cost of corn stover to the biorefinery by at least $10 per ton.

He pointed out that the technology seems to have evolved so you can use a wide variety of biomass material to co produce ethanol and electricity at an integrated biorefinery. He added, “we are looking at three different gasification technologies from three different companies for our project.”

Mayor Fitch told the committee and audience, “there are a lot of communities like Warrenton across the country, certainly hundreds if not thousands, which could be self sufficient in renewable energy. Like Warrenton, they have a variety of biomass material right in their backyard. Collectively, that represents billions of gallons of ethanol or renewable diesel – and all of it made from waste and residues.”

“That is a major contribution, which I think has been overlooked, to the goal of 20 billion gallons of renewable fuel by the 2020. The focus seems to be on creating large scale biorefineries producing 50 to 100 million gallons a year by the ADM’s and Cargill’s of the world. Communities like mine are just as valuable. Perhaps more so because we can engage the people in our community to get behind our renewable energy initiative and be a stakeholder.”

Mayor Fitch added, the economics of small scale biorefineries now work. It used to be that you needed at least 3,000 to 5,000 tons of feedstock per day to be economical. Not any more. Our model shows that 300 to 500 tons per day will be profitable; provided it produces both ethanol and electricity.”

Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina told the audience, “Mr. Mayor, you have stimulated our thinking. We need to think about small scale biorefineries across the country using different types of wastes. He added, “decentralization of renewable energy would give our country more energy security.”

For more information, you can contact Mayor Fitch directly at: (540) 347-1101. He would appreciate supportive letters to the editor to a local newspaper article written about his plan. Address the letters to the author Cheryl Chumley.

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February 6, 2007

PyroGenesis' BIOwaste Conversion Systems

When it comes to conversion systems some markets call for large scale solutions and other want to know how small you can go. Here are two systems that pack many features into a small footprint - small enough to fit on a ship.

PyroGenesis' Plasma Resource Recovery System (PRRS) uses a graphite arc plasma furnace to effect gasification of waste into syngas, a glass-like slag, and metal. The syngas can be used to fire boilers to generate electricity or as a fuel for combustion engines.

PyroGenesis also markets a cruise ship scaled Plasma Arc Waste Destruction System (PAWDS). With the US Navy requirements in mind, the PAWDS was designed to meet the following stringent criteria:
• Small system size and weight
• Ability to eliminate all combustible waste with minimal pre-treatment or segregation
• Quick start-up and shutdown (i.e. less than 10 minutes)
• Minimal labor requirements and high reliability
• Safe operation even under extreme weather conditions
• Compliance with existing and anticipated environmental regulations
• No visible plume

Plasma Resource Recovery System

Based on the expertise and experience gained in waste gasification and vitrification, PyroGenesis has developed the efficient 2 stage Plasma Resource Recovery System (PRRS) designed to uniquely treat a broad range of wastes, including industrial, hazardous and clinical wastes. Depending on the size and the composition of the waste stream, PRRS has the potential to be a net energy producer generating enough energy to not only operate the system but producing an excess which could be sold back to the grid. PRRS is scalable, fully automated and is targeted at processing between 0.5 to 100 TPD of waste (equivalent to approximately 150 to 30,000 tonnes per year). PRRS is significantly smaller when compared to similar capacity incinerators, produces no ash or dioxins and is a cost competitive alternative to conventional alternatives.

PRRS consists of four main processes: waste pre-treatment and feeding, plasma thermal treatment, synthesis gas cleaning and energy recovery.

Waste does not need to be pre-sorted and can be introduced into the PRRS graphite arc furnace in virtually any form (shredded material, sealed containers, liquids, sludges).

PRRS uses a graphite arc plasma furnace followed by a plasma-fired eductor to convert the organic fraction of waste into a soot-free synthesis gas (containing mostly carbon monoxide and hydrogen) and the inorganic fraction into a stable, inert slag which is a glass-like material that can be used as a construction material as well as a metal which can be recovered as an ingot.

The synthesis gas cleaning system is designed to remove any acid gases and capture any trace amounts of particulates or volatile heavy metals. The cleaned synthesis gas can then be used as a fuel in a boiler, an internal combustion gas engine or a gas turbine for the production of electricity, steam, and/or hot water.

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January 31, 2007

January 2007 Digest

The Renewable Industrial Revolution

After more than 150 years, the Industrial Revolution is overdue for a major retooling. No longer can we heedlessly combust biomass and fossil resources without consideration for the carbon emissions and potential energy that "floats out the smokestack." But what can possibly replace the status quo paradigm that we have based so much of our energy, industry, transportation, and lifestyle liberties upon?

This BIO "BlogRing" - BIOstock Blog, BIOconversion Blog, BIOoutput Blog, and the new BIOwaste Blog - is intended to help identify the multi-faceted pieces of emerging biomass technologies. - is intended to help identify the multi-faceted pieces of emerging biomass technologies. Like a Rubik's cube, the parts are inextricably linked together, but currently in disarray. By addressing each facet independently, challenging issues will become clear. By shifting perspective, new collaborative solutions can be synthesized. Not just one solution but many, because the ultimate solution for any market will depend upon the resources, ecology, and stakeholders of that market.

Here are their most significant developments of January 2007, organized by blog...

BIOstock Blog--------------
Utilizing Pine Beetle Wood Waste as BIOstock
Japanese wood-to-ethanol facility uses Arkenol process
CHINA: Choosing wood over corn for biofuels production
Low heat gasification converts woody biostock to energy
25x'25 Vision of BIOstock Supply
Food vs. Fuel: Over-reliance on Corn Raises Ag Prices
Celunol produces Ethanol from Wood using Bacteria
BIOethanol converted from pulping liquor
Food vs. Fuel? U.S. Farmers Can Produce Both
Black Liquor Gasification Technology Attracts Volvo Investment

BIOconversion Blog--------------
Biomass: Year-in-Review
Biomass Power Generation using Gasification
ALT Energy Stocks: The Future of Ethanol
FLORIDA: Cultivating a Bioconversion Industry
Low heat gasification technique to convert biostock to energy
Europe's "New Industrial Revolution"
Celunol launches commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Japan
Cellulose Ethanol Market Potential Report
ACORE: President Bush on Renewable Energy in 2007
Apollo Alliance pursues 'green-collar' jobs
Ethanol and Net Energy - EROI
The Renewable Path to Energy Security

BIOoutput Blog-----------------
FAQ: BIOoutput Blog
"Living with Ed" Begley, Jr. in Studio City
CALIFORNIA: Governor Targets Fuel Emissions
Electric cars - a boost for biofuels?
CHINA: Pollution threatens 2008 Olympics
BioButanol from Cellulosic Bioconversion
From Food to Fuel to Fashion

NEW! BIOwaste Blog-----------------
FAQ: BIOwaste Blog
Spinning “Gold” Out of Trash
Southern California Emerging Waste Technologies Forum
The Benefits of Conversion Technologies
Recycling’s “China Syndrome”
Plasma Gasification and Incineration Compared
CANADA: Municipal Solid Waste Disposal Options
CHINA: Pollution threatens 2008 Olympics
Using Algae to Recycle Flue Gas into Biofuels
U.S. D.O.E.: Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gases
CALIFORNIA: Air Resources Board tackles Global Warming
Impact of Global Growth on Carbon Emissions
Enforcing California's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits
BIOwaste Energy as Explained on the Energy Kid's Page
Expanded Recycling - a Key to Cutting Fossil Fuels and Global Warming
Mayors seek $4B to fight Energy & Environmental Challenges
MIT/PNNL Plasma Arc Waste-to-ethanol Solution

Each month we provide a similar breakdown of article titles from our favorite "companion" site - Biopact Blog. This list is kept current and is accessible in the right hand column of each of the three blogs.

Please forward a link to this digest to anyone you know who would be interested in keeping track of change that will affect us all. They can add their name to the mailing list on the BioConversion Blog.

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