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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume III, Issue 29, July 22, 2013 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "TerĂº")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Pee is a valuable renewable resource according to Dr. Ieropoulos at the Bristol Robotics Lab in the UK. The good Professor has figured out how to convert urine directly into electricity, enough to charge your cell phone or to run your camp lights. Dr. I's "E-Bots" are urine-fed microbial fuel cells that convert the nutrient and salt waste solution we all make: pee in, power out. It's just a little power, but it's enough to let you call home and tell 'em what you've done.

But we make a lot more of that kinda waste than we can feed to a microbial fuel cell. Along come OriginOil and their French partner Ennesys, with the tools to turn all the human effluent from an entire commercial building into sterilized nutrient soup that algae in tubes on the building's roof will gobble up. Then they harvest the algae oil for local energy, and close the loop.

At the other end of the poo-power scale are the folks working on what to do with the "residuals" generated on an annual basis by 16.5 million hogs. It's easy: grow energy crops in that muck, grind it up and mix it with the manure and the used bedding material. Rip that crud up and brew it with Chemtex' PROESA pre-treatment and fermentation know-how, and you've got the makin's for a whole lot of cellulosic biofuel.

A far cry from where we were just a decade ago, Waste Conversion now sports quite a panoply of sophisticated tools for "un-baking the molecular cake" and turning just about any sort of discard back into the raw materials needed to make new goods. The major systems are available, and now globally our inventive attention is turning to fine-tuning our capabilities. Companies are commercializing highly effective front-end pre-treatment technologies that break down those resistant molecular bonds in cellulose, the tough scaffolding that holds plants upright, making short-chain molecules of sugar soup, and letting other kinds of processing deal with the cell contents. Once the central Conversion step produces the raw materials, there are new remanufacturing methods showing up every day to turn those intermediates into just about anything the Market will absorb.

There are really very few things we can't recycle if you use that term rightly to encompass all the ways we can turn crud back into goods. But this makes the agency job a tough one: how to understand all those pathways well enough to manage them and keep the field level and clean. One great way to use up waste stuff is to convert it into biofuel alternatives to petroleum-sourced gas and diesel, but the Cal Air Board got a wake-up call on just how complicated making Low Carbon Fuel Standards can get this week, courtesy one of the country's largest biofuels producers and the decisions of the courts. CalRecycle is struggling hard to figure out how to make honest comparisons between just the front-end parts of a couple of the more common recycling pathways. Is it best for each of us to separate our own waste, picking out what we assume is recyclable from stuff we figure nobody can do anything with? Or do we send it all away in one big can, and let the Experts and their new tools do the separation?

Hey Rube!

CalRecycle would really appreciate your thoughts on that one, whether our modern Mixed Waste Processing Facilities are as effective at Diversion from Disposal as our own source-separation. But then, if everything is recyclable with the right tools, then what's left to separate?

The Week's News

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Bristol Robotics Lab Scientists Charge Mobile Phone with Urine Power

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a collaboration between University of West of England (UWE) Bristol and the University of Bristol, has developed a microbial fuel cell (MFC) that can be fueled by urine, and can provide power sufficient to charge a mobile phone and similar small devices. 07/20/2013

Ionic Liquid Thermocell Harvests Waste Heat for Power Generation

Monash University in Australia has announced that a small team of their researchers have developed a highly efficient method for converting waste heat directly into electricity. 07/20/2013

BDI Starts Producing at Multi-Waste Feedstock Biodiesel Plant in Portugal

Austrian based  BDI-BioEnergy International AG  (BDI) has  announced  that it has successfully begun biodiesel production at its 25,000 ton per year multi-feedstock plant in Sines, Portugal for its customer, Enerfuel S.A. 07/19/2013

OriginOil Algae Technology Processes Building Sewage at Paris Demo Site

Los Angeles Based OriginOil has announced success in treating the liquid sewage effluent generated by a large building complex with its Electro Water Separation (EWS) technology at Ennesys urban algae demonstration site near Paris. 07/19/2013

California Appellate Court Publishes Formal Opinion on LCFS Ruling

The California Fifth District Court of Appeal issued a formal Opinion on July 15, 2013 detailing its provisional ruling in response to a lawsuit brought by POET LLC and other parties against the California Air Resources Board (ARB). 07/18/2013

Dominion Converts Altavista Power Station from Coal to Biomass

Dominion Virginia Power has announced that it placed its Altavista Power Station in Campbell County, Virginia into commercial operation on July 12, 2013 with renewable biomass as its fuel, the first of three stations to be converted from coal to biomass. 07/18/2013

Quezon City Facility in Philippines Expands Landfill Gas to Energy Plant

Quezon City, Philippines, has announced that the Quezon City Integrated Disposal Facility, Waste to Energy Biogas Plant located in Payatas has been expanded, adding two 320 kW engines to supplement the existing 236 kW engine. 07/18/2013

Chemtex, Murphy Brown Sign Feedstock Supply Agreement for Project Alpha

North Carolina based Chemtex International, Inc. has announced entering into a long term agreement for the supply of purpose grown energy crops and residues to be used as cellulosic feedstock with Murphy Brown LLC of Warsaw, North Carolina. 07/16/2013

Sapphire Energy and Linde Group to Refine Hydrothermal Treatment Process

San Diego based Sapphire Energy has announced an expansion of its partnership with The Linde Group launched in May 2011. 07/16/2013

The Week's Action Items

Due 08/01/2013: Comments to CalRecycle on Source Separation vs Alternatives The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has conducted the first of two highly detailed workshops addressing one narrow yet complex aspect of implementing AB 341, the Mandatory Commercial Recycling legislation. 07/17/2013


Due 08/09/2013: Proposals to WAPA for Sale of RECs for Federal Agencies
The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA, or Western) has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) on behalf of federal agencies. 07/17/2013

Due 08/09/2013: Comments to DEFRA on Waste Management Plan for England

The United Kingdom (UK) Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced the publication of a Waste Management Plan for England, and opened a public consultation seeking stakeholder input. 07/16/2013

Due 08/09/2013: Comments to CEC on Transportation Energy Scenarios

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has announced a workshop on July 31, 2013 to explore potential growth projections for alternative transportation fuels, vehicles, and infrastructure, and factors related to growth, seeking stakeholder input. 07/18/2013

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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.