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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume III, Issue 32, August 12, 2013 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Turning waste into goods makes something out of nothing. If you can create a positive value where there has been a cost, you get a "double bump" in the economics: first, you remove the expense, and second, you create an asset. When you don't have to go dig up another mountain and instead "mine" the same basic manufacturing materials out of the constant flow of waste we all produce, you reduce an enormous amount of the environmental impact usually associated with getting new virgin materials.

Smart folks are learning how to turn difficult wastes and residuals into a fix for entirely different problems. Really, when we turn waste organics into biogas and run the whole farm on the heat and power, we convert the problem into a solution. When the same digester system that's generating biogas fuel from the farm's manure and residuals can also gobble up all the local food waste from the surrounding community, we're getting traction for this Circular Economy idea. Now days, there are so many global examples of digesters being designed and built that can convert all sorts of waste stuff that it hardly seems like "news" any more, but that just shows how fast good ideas can spread, given the chance.

There are very few examples where a "waste" is not also created when "goods" are made, and that applies to reprocessing pathways just as it always has for use of virgin materials. When we separate stuff for recycling, and those recyclates are then washed, ground, melted, digested, depolymerized, or otherwise reconstituted and transmogrified into new goods for the marketplace, there still is some fraction that doesn't fit the needed specification, some portion that then becomes the waste of that totally cool process.

Recognizing that someone else's by-products are a problem for them and a feedstock for you provides the perfect Business Opportunity. Take for example the complex organic polymer lignin, the crucial part of woody plants that makes the cell walls rigid. It just gets in the way when you try to turn that plant's cellulose part into sugar-soup for fermentation to biofuels. It is quite satisfying to see smart folks figure out what that lignin stuff is, how it reacts when you beat on it, and what useful stuff you might be able to produce.

A mentor once told me that a weed is simply a "plant out of place." In the same way, a waste is simply a resource that has yet to be properly utilized.

Hey Rube!

Look over this week's news item on EPA's Small Biz Innovation Research (SBIR) program; remember, we posted the DOE's own SBIR news on the 25th of last month. Much of the SBIR focus of late has been on waste conversion. Eleven agencies run SBIR programs, and each agency issues its own solicitations for Phase I and Phase II research proposals from science and technology-based firms. Phase II contracts provide about three times the funds as Phase I to those companies that have successfully completed Phase I funded projects. To navigate this complex and ever-changing tableau of potential funding, start with the Small Business Administration to suss out which agency is doing what, and see SBA's Agency Contacts page for someone to contact. Then dive into SBIR's own website where resources are listed for agencies, large companies, investors and others.

This Week's Top Story

County Approves $1.3MM in USDA Loans to Buy Site for Wood Pellet Plant

County supervisors in Mississippi have signed off on almost $1.3 million in US Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans to pay for land to expand the George County Industrial Park for a new wood pellet manufacturing facility to be constructed by Green Circle Bio Energy, Inc. 08/11/2013

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.


Colombian Oil Firm Works with NREL to Convert Sugar Cane Waste to Biofuels

Ecopetrol, the largest oil company in Colombia, is working with the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to process the residue from sugar cane and palm oil harvesting into fuel ethanol for blending with gasoline. 08/11/2013

CalRecycle/CARB Workshop on Revised Waste Mgt Sector Plan Scheduled

California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and Air Resources Board (CARB) staff will co-host a workshop on September 17, 2013 to discuss revisions to the draft Waste Management Sector Plan component of the 2013 Scoping Plan Update. 08/10/2013

NRG Energy Plans to Build Bioenergy Park Next to Montville Power Station NRG Energy, Inc has announced plans to develop the Montville Renewable Energy Park next to its power station in Connecticut. 08/10/2013

BDI Expands Feedstock Range at Spanish Biodiesel Facility with Retrofit

Austrian based BDI - BioEnergy International AG has secured an add-on contract with Stocks del Vallés (Stocks) to provide BDI RetroFit Technology to upgrade its 31,000-ton/year (9.3 MMgy) biodiesel facility to process multiple, lower-grade feedstocks. 08/08/2013

Energy Technology Leadership Group Launched for Smarter Safer Energy

The new Washington based advocacy association Energy Technology Leadership Group (ETLG) announced its formal launch last week "to promote smarter, safer energy through the use of the most innovative technologies across the energy spectrum including fossil, solar, hydro, wind, biofuels, and geothermal." 08/07/2013

University of Texas, SWRI to Assess Use of Biochar for Frack Water Clean-Up

The University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA) and the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) have announced that they are initiating a year-long research assessment of biochar for cleanup and remediation of "frack water," the flow-back water produced during hydraulic fracturing for mining oil and gas reserves. 08/07/2013

Aston University EBRI Calls for Business Waste for Thermal Conversion Trials

The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) based at Aston University in Birmingham, United Kingdom (UK), has announced a request for the UK's West Midlands businesses and manufacturers to send their waste for testing in a new bioenergy technology developed by its researchers. 08/06/2013

Waste No Energy Develops Manure and Food Waste Digester at RAKR Farms

Indiana based Waste No Energy, LLC (WNE), a company owned by RAKR Farms, has announced development of a multi-feedstock anaerobic digester (AD) facility that is on target to begin generating renewable power in December 2013. 08/06/2013

Green Heat Alliance Publishes US EPA 'Wood Heater NSPS' Rulemaking Status

The Alliance for Green Heat has published a status summary of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) “Wood Heater NSPS" rulemaking, which was submitted to to the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) on July 26, 2013. 08/05/2013

New Research Addresses Fate of Lignin During Hydrothermal Pretreatment

The latest edition of the journal of "Biotechnology for Biofuels" has published the abstract of a highly-collaborative article exploring a crucial aspect of biomass breakdown for production of biofuels and bio-sourced chemicals. 08/05/2013

EPA SBIR Awards Include Micro-Waste-to-Energy, Rare Earth Recycling

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced seven Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards, in response to the FY 2013 Request for Applications. 08/05/2013

The Week's Action Items

Due 09/09/2013: Comments to Idaho DEQ on Draft Composting Guidance

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has extended the deadline for submission of public comments on its draft guidance for operation of composting facilities. 08/11/2013

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18-19, 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.