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Teru Talk News

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Volume I, Issue 28, September 6, 2011
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú") 

Teru's Trash Talk

Oh, boy! Clean Energy, Clean Chemistry! Clean Fuels! We need to ask the question, "Clean, compared to what?" What is the basis of the comparison, and how much of the life-cycle (source-to-gas pump) are we comparing? Counting emissions from industry reminds me of counting calories in a diet … there are a whole lot more calories in a tablespoon of fat than in a tablespoon of, well, almost anything else. If you want to really cut your caloric intake, you have to know what packs the biggest punch.


Same thing with emissions, some things we do will always crud up our world a lot more than others, and we would be wise to fix the worst offenders first. That's the essence of the EPA's message in their assessment of one of the very nastiest of toxic emissions, the dreaded Dioxins: No New Sources - Replace older, dirtier processes with newer, cleaner methods and equipment.


It is not enough to simply rip out older technology and replace it with the newest gear. We need to keep in mind that any sort of equipment can be run clean, or run dirty; it depends on equipment design AND on the operator's skill and maintenance habits. EPA found that each industrial sector could vary from way below limits to far above reason. You buy a cheap car, use cheap gas and don't change the oil, you run a dirty car. Same old car, properly maintained and running on modern low-carbon biofuel, it's a Classic that purrs and make you proud. You skimp on the waste conversion technology, don't pay attention to the input and don't keep your emissions control systems up to par, you run a dirty conversion system. Same simple retort or digester given an even flow of simple feedstock and pampered by a fastidious maintenance crew can beat the SOx off the competition.


Measurable direct emission reductions seen in engine exhaust can be compared one-on-one; indirect reductions such as releases during fuel production take a bit more finesse to tease out. So, inquiring minds should want to know: "Clean, compared to what?"

Hey Rube!

Listen carefully to how the Buzz Words are being used. Not long ago, it was "renewable" this and "renewable" that. More recently, we have been trying to figure out what "sustainable" means, in the same energy-fuel-chemical context. Now, we hear our national Admin say "Clean Energy", "Clean Fuels" and checking the Agenda, see that this time, nuclear energy gets to join the party. Guess that rings better than "sustainable nuclear". It is always good to check your precepts.

The Week's News

Australian Consortium Focusing on Jet Fuel from Biomass Now Includes GE GE has joined the Australian consortium for the development of biomass to aviation biofuel that was announced in July 2011. 09/05/2011


Harvest Power Raises $1.25MM on New $2.25 MM Equity Funding Round With $1 million of equity remaining for sale in this round, Harvest Power, Inc has filed SEC Form D for a total offering of $2.25 million. 09/05/2011


Fire Prevention Fee Debates Now Include Proposed ABx1-24 and SBx1-7 California Governor Jerry Brown has presented a proposal to the legislature to clean up the language in the State Responsibility Area ( SRA ) Fire Prevention Fund (ABx1-29) that he signed last month. 09/05/2011


Joule and Solazyme Named 2012 Tech Pioneers by World Economic Forum Each year, the World Economic Forum selects 25 industry-changing companies among hundreds nominated from around the globe as Technology Pioneers. 09/05/2011


White House Asks EPA to Defer Draft Ozone Rule Until 2013 Review Cycle President Obama has requested that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson withdraw the draft rule regarding Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, recommending that the EPA wait until completion of the scientific review currently underway. 09/03/2011


Trillium FiberFuels Receives 2nd SBIR Award in 2011 for New Marine Enzyme Corvallis, Oregon based biofuels pre-treatment specialists Trillium FiberFuels has now received their second Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant for "Xylose Isomerase from Marine Bacteria for Cellulosic Ethanol". 09/03/2011


DTSC Hosts Green Chemistry Symposium on Industry Practices in Product R&D California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) "Green Chemistry" regulatory development program will present a free symposium on September 15, 2011 in Sacramento, convening a panel of consumer product manufacturing representatives. 09/03/2011


TEG and Alkane Win Bid for Welsh Food Waste AD Facility

United Kingdom energy firms TEG Environmental and Alkane Energy Plc have announced their successful bid for development of a 20,000 tonne per year food waste anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in North East Wales. 09/01/2011


Honeywell's UOP Starts Construction on Demo Integrated Biorefinery in Hawaii Honeywell's subsidiary UOP LLC has announced the start of construction of their biomass to liquid fuel integrated biorefinery in Kapolei, Hawaii. 09/01/2011


California's AB 1178 on Origin of Solid Waste Pulled, Will Try Again Next Year Assembly Bill (AB) 1178 as proposed by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma would prohibit any California city or county from enacting an ordinance which restricts importation of solid waste to a privately held landfill based on that waste's "place of origin". 09/01/2011


Bacteria Identified in Panda Feces Are Able to Pre-Treat Biomass for Biofuels Associate Professor Dr. Ashli Brown and her Mississippi State University team have isolated cellulolytic anaerobic bacteria that efficiently digest woody food in a giant panda's gut, converting up to 95% of the lignocellulose in 20 to 40 pounds per day of bamboo to sugar. 08/31/2011


DOE Awards $12MM in Support of Three Drop-In Biofuels Projects

US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu has announced dedication of $4 million in grant funding for each of three small-scale biofuels development and commercialization efforts. 08/31/2011


BioAmber Plans Commercial Bio-Sourced Succinic Acid Plant in Canada Bluewater Chemicals, Inc, a subsidiary of BioAmber Inc, will construct a commercial scale bio-sourced succinic production facility in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, with the support of CAD $35 million in grants and loans from the Ontario Ministry for Economic Development and Trade (MEDT). 08/31/2011


Nexterra's Biomass Gasification Installation Among Cleanest in North America Nexterra's biomass gasification installation at the Prince George campus of the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) shows substantially lower emissions when compared to 17 modern, conventional biomass combustion facilities in North America. 08/30/2011


Tulane University Turns Newspaper to Bio-butanol - Seeks Commercial Partners Researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans have been experimenting with a bacterium named TU-103 that can directly convert newspaper and other cellulosic biomass into butanol. 08/30/2011

The Week's Action Items

Due 09/30/2011: Response to USAF on Advanced Drop-In Biofuels Capabilities The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture together with the US Navy have issued a Request for Information (RFI-11-27-PKM) to accelerate biofuels public/private partnership development. 08/31/2011


Due 10/31/2011: Comments on EPA Draft n-Butanol Toxicological Review The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a 60-day public comment period and informational listening session for their draft toxicological review of n-Butanol, supporting information now included in their Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). 09/04/2011


Due 11/04/2011: Proposals for Central Maui Landfill Gas Utilization Project The County of Maui, Hawaii, has released a Request for Proposals (RFP No. 11-12 / P-15) from developers for utilization of landfill gas sufficient to produce about 1 megawatt of electricity. 08/30/2011



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