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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume III, Issue 30, July 29, 2013 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "TerĂº")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Rot is Good, Grubs are Great! That's the mantra for Teru's own on-going organic residual management. Now, to actually "compost", you keep the moisture up around 40% and let Them Microbes eat and heat, eat and heat until around 140 degrees. In reality, "backyard composting" in our three-tier, black plastic compost bin thing never really gets hot enough, long enough to bake out all those seeds and bugs. What you get instead is a moldering mass of buggy, seed-filled mulch in varying degrees of muckiness (technical term).

Yet wanna-be composting is not necessarily a bad thing, and is still better than exporting our organics to the local Pay-to-Bury facility, and then buying bags of mulch made from who-knows-what. Our household generates about four pounds of veggie scraps per day. A year goes by, and over the winter the oldest part of that degraded black weedy buggy stuff gets spaded into one of the garden areas. The birds go nuts getting the bugs and worms. In the spring, seeds sprout. It is a real good idea to put only food-seedy things into the bin if you don't want non-food seeds sprouting later. Turn the sprouts under, and they too join the Rot in the Box. It takes another year for all that action to settle down into a rich gardening soil (you weren't in a hurry, were you?).

Those of you that have followed my rants know that I have a standing agreement with the well-established local population of Black Soldier Flies. About May of each year, these 3/4" non-biting sleek black flies take over the compost bin, laying eggs that hatch into what I like to call "Ma Wee Beasties." We quickly have a seething mass of 1/2" hyper-active soldier fly grubs. Before my Beasties are in place, I have to cover each veggie scrap addition with a layer of mulch, and still regularly end up with a Plague of Gnats and the occasional Ant Attack. But once the grub colony is up and running, there are no gnats, no ants, or even any real odor coming from the "compost" bin - just this amazing grub-machine consuming up to 5 pounds a day of organics and converting this to new grubs and grub-poo.

Wee Beasties mature in a few weeks. The older grubs crawl up and out, seeking dry dirt. Some people use a ramp to let them scamper up and into a small bucket, creating a self-harvesting system. I just cut a 1" slot diagonally in the front of the composter, and the grubs find their own way out. But the Cantaloupe (their favorite snack) is connected to the Soldier Fly Grub, and the Grub's connected to the next few levels of the local food chain. I had to build a stout cage around the composter last year to discourage the local skunks from rummaging in the lower levels; I figured out they were actually after the grubs, not the rotting veggies.

This year, we've noticed an increase in Phoebes, beautiful swallow-relatives that can catch bugs on the fly. But then why should those birds go to all that trouble? The neatly dressed Phoebe Families now sit along a ledge near the composter, chittering to each other and getting all excited when another of Wee Beastie finds its way through the Escape Slot. I've created a Wee Beastie Vending Machine and the birds love it.

Hey Rube!

Remember: AB 341's "Mandatory Commercial Recycling" roll-out plans are under development, and CalRecycle is asking for another round of comments by August 1st comparing do-it-yourself recycling versus automated recovery via Mixed Waste Processing Facilities. Pluses and minuses in both cases; study up, and submit your own ideas.

The Week's Extra Reading

Teru has submitted his own comments to CalRecycle on the comparison of Source Separation (3 bins) to sending it all to Mixed Waste Processing Facilities (1 bin). We know that comments can be kind of dry, so these have full colored graphics to liven them up. Take a look.

The Week's News

NOTE: If you are using IE10 and our website isn't loading as smoothly as you would like or the page jumps when you click on a link to go to a certain news item, just change to "compatibility view" and all will be fine.


Gevo Ships Biobutanol to US Coast Guard for Marine Engine Testing

Based in Colorado, Gevo has announced that it has begun supplying initial quantities of 16.1% renewable isobutanol blended gasoline to the US Coast Guard (USCG). 07/26/2013

Energos Receives Planning OK for Northern Ireland Waste Gasification Plant

United Kingdom (UK) based Energos has announced receipt of planning approval for an 80,000 tonne per year waste gasification facility to be developed in Lisburn, Northern Ireland at the site of the former Burn House Rendering plant. 07/25/2013

RWE Begins Commissioning of Markinch Biomass CHP Plant in Scotland

The Fife Council in Scotland has announced a key milestone in bringing the Markinch Biomass CHP plant on-line with RWE npower renewables feeding seven hundred tonnes of wood chip into the plant's feed handling system. 07/25/2013

DOE Awards $11MM to Small Businesses for Clean Energy Technologies

The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has announced awards of almost $11 million for projects focused on clean energy technologies with a strong potential for commercialization and job creation; a list of the awards is provided. 07/25/2013

Appalachian State Researchers Receive Biofuel / Biochar Research Grant

Appalachian State University (App State) has announced receipt of a $45,000 grant from the non-profit North Carolina Agricultural Foundation for a project to economically convert biomass to biofuel and biochar. 07/24/2013

Biffa Partners with Jewson for Green Energy and Zero Waste to Landfill

The United Kingdom (UK) based Biffa has announced entering into a partnership agreement with Jewson Ltd., the construction materials supply and distribution subsidiary of Saint-Gobain. 07/24/2013

Solarvest Bioenergy Secures Key Canadian Support for Algal Research

Canadian algal specialists Solarvest Bioenergy have announced receipt of approval for two research support programs through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). 07/23/2013

Construction Starts in Alabama on Advanced MRF with BHS Recycling System

Oregon based Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) has announced the ground-breaking ceremony for a highly-automated and integrated materials recovery facility (MRF) and zero waste conversion complex in Montgomery, Alabama for recycling the region's municipal solid waste (MSW). 07/22/2013

UK's ORG Releases Guidance for Land Application of Organics from MSW

The United Kingdom (UK) based Organics Recycling Group (ORG) has announced release of a guidance document addressing standards for land restoration with the separated organic materials (SOMs) fraction of municipal solid waste (MSW). 07/22/2013

The Week's Action Items

Due 08/19/2013: Proposals to NSF on Advanced Dry Cooling for Power Plants

The Directorate of Engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in collaboration with the Electric Power research Institute (EPRI) has announced release of a solicitation seeking solutions to address the critical problem of water usage and consumption at power plants for cooling. 07/23/2013

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Recommended Reading:

Waste to energy conversion technology
Waste to energy conversion technology (Woodhead Publishing Series in Energy 2013)


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Teru Talk is an online publication of JDMT, Inc with the goal of opening the dialogue and providing current news and commentary on issues and successes associated with waste conversion to renewable energy, biofuels and other bio-based products for resource recovery.

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The Teru Talk Newsletter is published weekly or more or less frequently, primarily depending on what is going on in the world of waste conversion or ours.