Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume IV, Issue 46, November 17, 2014 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú") 

Teru's Trash Talk

If you clamp the lid down tight enough on your backyard compost bin, it goes from being a 'composter' to something more akin to a septic tank, but with drier muck. Something else these dry fermentation digesters do that you certainly don't want to happen in your compost bucket: those no-oxygen (or anaerobic) microbes make burnable biogas, methane-rich - ah - flatulance.

The air-breathing microbes that make standard composting work are great at breaking down chipped-up wood and veggie foot scraps, turning it all into high-grade soils amendments. So do their anaerobic cousins, but in addition we get fuel. Most digesters are tanks filled with rather dilute slurries of organics and a lot of microbes that happen to like not breathing oxygen. You can pump wet digester slurry. You can't pump the decomposing organics in a dry fermenter; you use a skip-loader. But you sure can siphon off the biogas, and with that you can run an engine, heat water to make steam, or turn the methane into all sorts of "green chemistry" commodities.

This trick isn't new, it is just something we're now seeing get traction and be more broadly applied, and in very refined versions. We have watched over the last few years as SmartFerm dry fermentation modules have been tested, tweaked, installed, and commissioned in Monterey, San Jose and San Francisco. Teru Talk reported a couple weeks ago that the Japanese industrial giant HZI absorbed one of the oldest 'dry ferm' companies, KompoFerm. This week, we find the long-suffering dry digester developer OWS with their DRANCO system finally standing in the bright light, with multiple European installations now selected and underway. Go, team!

Much of the reason for this dry technology platform to be on the rise has to do with how carefully and thoroughly we can now sensor, computer-control, and please the requisite highly specialized anaerobic microbes needed to keep these boxes running. Another part is that, well, you keep the stuff Dry, and it is much easier to clean up after than spilled slurry.

Perhaps more telling and important is that this trend is certainly not isolated to one waste conversion technology platform. The same Smart Tech computer wizardry that can keep Dry Ferm bugs happy is just as applicable and important to controlling wet digestion, to balancing thermal conversion processes in a pyrolytic retort, coaxing algae to eat industrial exhaust, or guiding molecules to re-sort themselves during catalysis.

Finally, we are seeing folks around the globe search for, select, fund, improve, redevelop, and deploy a whole raft of Waste Conversion technologies, some very new, and many that have been languishing in the back shop for decades. But none of these Smart Tech advances would make any difference, haven't really made a big difference across the board, without the broad and growing human recognition that somehow, we have to stop destroying this resource and start turning the stuff we trash back into the goods we need.

Hey Rube!

Old-school fund and flip Venture Capital methods are falling away, and the piracy of early stage financing is shifting toward a hands-on mentoring basis that actually helps propel emerging Smart Technology companies into the marketplace. That works just as well for diversifying waste conversion as it does for launching new Phone Apps. Take a fresh look around, and you probably will find a local Innovation Hub like the one Teru Talk is currently attending, working to boost your own regional Start-Up growth. When you do, let us know, and we can compare notes.

This Week's Top Story

OWS to Supply DRANCO Dry Digestion for Allerton Waste Recovery Facility

Belgium based OWS has announced receipt of a first order in the United Kingdom (UK) for its patented DRANCO dry digestion technology. 11/13/2014

The Week's News

Institute for Local Government Will Host Webinar on The Future of Recycling

The non-profit Institute for Local Government (ISL) will host a free webinar on December 2, 2014 on The Future of Recycling Programs: Sustainable Funding Sources. 11/15/2014

Army Office of Energy Releases Renewable Energy Development Guide

The Honorable Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the US Navy has introduced a new guide, "Developing Renewable Energy Projects by Leveraging the Private Sector", dated November 06, 2014.  11/15/2014

European Biofuels Technology Platform Working Groups Are Seeking Experts

The European Biofuels Technology Platform (EBTP) Working Groups have made initial contributions to a proposed update to the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for Biofuels in Europe. 11/15/2014

Ameresco Completes California Landfill Gas to Energy Project

Massachusetts based Ameresco, Inc joined with local California officials and energy industry leaders last Thursday to commemorate the completion of its 4.3 megawatt (MWe) landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) project at the Foothill Sanitary Landfill near Linden in San Joaquin County. 11/15/2014

Oregon BEST Helped Fund Research for Biochar-Coated Seeds

Oregon BEST has provided funds for Walking Point Farms, LLC to test the efficacy of coating seeds and soil amendments with biochar, a soil additive derived from the pyrolysis of woody biomass.11/13/2014

Waste Management Debuts Renewable Natural Gas Facility at Illinois Landfill

Texas based Waste Management celebrated the opening of its new Renewable Natural Gas Facility which creates pipeline-ready natural gas from the landfill gas produced at its Milam Landfill in Fairmont City, Illinois. 11/13/2014

New Process by Purdue Researchers Converts Biomass To Liquid Fuel

Researchers at Purdue University have demonstrated a new process to convert all biomass into liquid fuel, and the method could make possible mobile processing plants. 11/13/2014

ElectraTherm Green Machine Generates Power from Biomass in Italy

Nevada based ElectraTherm, Inc has commissioned a Green Machine to generate emission-free electricity from biomass in Badia Prataglia, Italy. 11/12/2014

Saria Hosts Open House at Widnes ReFood Anaerobic Digestion Facility

United Kingdom (UK) based Saria Limited opened the doors of the ReFood Widnes anaerobic digestion (AD) facility to the public for the first time since it began operations in June of this year. 11/12/2014

LWARB Launches New £20 Million Fund for Waste Infrastructure Projects

The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) has announced that £20 million is nwo available to invest in waste-related projects, and has launched a new call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from organizations seeking funds. 11/12/2014

Desso Uses Chalk From Local Water Companies to Manufacture Carpet Backing

The Netherlands based Desso Group has developed a new material stream for its carpet tiles based on a partnership with a group of drinking water companies in the Netherlands. 11/12/2014

GreenMantra Closes on $17MM for Waste Plastics Conversion to Waxes

Ontario, Canada based GreenMantra Recycling Technologies Ltd. has announced the completion of a series of financings with proceeds in excess of $17 million.11/11/2014

The Week's Action Items

Due 12/30/2014: RFI Responses to DOE on High Impact Building Technology

The US Department of Energy's (DOE) Building Technology Office (BTO) has released a Request for Information (RFI; DE-FOA-0001226) to augment its High Impact Technology (HIT) Catalyst framework for accelerating the voluntary adoption of high impact, cost-effective, energy-saving, and underutilized commercial building technologies. 11/15/2014

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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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