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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