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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume IV, Issue 11, March 17, 2014 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

With everything ultimately interconnected like a great cosmic "Whack-a-Mole" game, how do we ever know the real changes we bring about when we do anything? How do we go about the business of keeping ourselves fed and clothed, transported and governed, without messing up something along the way? One of the global debates about interconnectedness has to do with "indirect" changes, the overbalancing that tends to occur when we try to fix a problem here, and miss the unintended consequences over there. Such is the case when we attempt to make alternatives to refinery-produced petroleum-sourced transport fuels. We probably can't avoid all the collateral damage, but we can pay more attention to the details. One big detail is the source of the feedstock: is it newly hewn / mined / grown, or is it something someone else threw away?

Many of those indirect changes occur to the land itself. Every good debate has its own jargon, and "indirect land use change" (iLUC) is emerging as a seriously complex and crucially important measure of just how much we can screw things up even when we try to do good.

Case in point: We've learned how to make bio-diesel from plants! Oh, Boy! Let's just grub out those troublesome vegetable crops and plant "energy cane." Uh, aren't we supposed to eat those veggies? Do we think we should keep doing that? Is the practice sustainable? Surprise, surprise: almost everything we can scale up to produce enough to convert to alternative fuels comes with collateral damage. The tally of measurable iLUC can be high enough to take the glow off the benefits. But not everything is that way: if you concentrate on cleanly converting the stuff that has classically just been in the way and thrown out, using waste as feedstock for alternative fuel, we avoid most if not all of the iLUC problems.

This rule plays out well even around food crops. If you pay a farmer for the squished tomatoes and rotten lettuce, for the bulk of the seeds and stems, you get feedstock, the dump doesn't spew as much methane, and the farmer's accountant breaths a little easier. You still have to pay attention and not take too much straw off the rice field after harvest, but at least you aren't competing for the rice.

However we measure this ever-shifting target of "sustainability", whatever we count up that lets us track the damage we do along with the good we accomplish, that balance sheet just seems to be a whole lot more in the black than in the red when we use post-recycled, sorted, and pre-treated waste instead of freshly harvested "energy" feedstock.

Waste may or may not really be a "renewable energy source", but using garbage to make new goods appears to be the ultimate form of Sustainable Manufacturing.

Hey Rube!

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is busy teasing apart the issues of low carbon / low iLUC alternative fuels right now to "re-adopt" the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. There are lots of new documents from public workshops, and a Call for Comments. See our Action Item below, read the CARB's detailed proposals, and send the Agency your own thoughts. Watch for our waste conversion slanted Focus Report on the LCFS Re-Adoption coming out early this week.

This Week's Top Story

Maverick and PPE Partner to Produce Small-Scale Methane-to-Methanol Plants

North Carolina based Maverick Synfuels, Inc (formerly Maverick Biofuels) and Texas company Plant Process Equipment, Inc. (PPE) have announced their partnership to manufacture and sell small-scale Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) methanol plants. 03/11/2014

The Week's News

Göteborg Energi Inaugurates Valmet-Supplied Gasification Plant at GoBiGas

Valmet Corporation has announced that the Valmet-supplied Repotec gasification plant at Göteborg Energi's GoBiGas (Gothenburg Biomass Gasification Project) in Gothenburg, Sweden, was inaugurated on March 12, 2014. 03/14/2014

UK Defra Calls for Evidence on Refuse Derived Fuel Market in England

The United Kingdom (UK) Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has released a Call for Evidence regarding all aspects of refuse derived fuel (RDF) used both in England and for export. 03/14/2014

Vega Biofuels and JV Partners Plan New State of the Art Torrefaction Facility

Georgia based Vega Biofuels, Inc has announced that it has entered into a joint venture (JV) agreement with partners that include Agri-Tech Producers, LLC (ATP) to build and operate a pilot torrefaction facility in Allendale, South Carolina. 03/14/2014

NBE and Solvay JV for Torrefied Wood Pellet Production and Distribution

Mississippi based New Biomass Energy LLC (NBE) and international chemical firm Solvay SA have announced formation of the joint venture (JV) Solvay Biomass Energy for the production and distribution of torrefied wood pellets, also known as black pellets. 03/13/2014

US EPA's Latest MSW Data Demonstrates America's Evolving Waste Stream

The National Waste & Recycling Association has presented additional insight into the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on municipal solid waste (MSW) generation and recycling rates. 03/13/2014

CalRecycle Posts Grant and Loan Program Overview and Criteria Documents

California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) staff has posted notice of proposed grant and loan programs to be presented to the Board for consideration for formal approval during the March 18, 2014 monthly meeting in Ontario, California. 03/12/2014

9th Annual California Bioresources Alliance Symposium, June 3-4, 2014

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Extension and the Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 (EPA R9) will co-host the ninth annual California Bioresources Alliance Symposium on June 3 & 4, 2014 at the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center at UC Davis. 03/12/2014

Zilkha Biomass Energy Licenses Black Pellet Technology to Cate Street Capital

Texas based Zilkha Biomass Energy LLC has agreed to license its Zilkha Black® Pellet technology to Cate Street Capital, Inc, a company that invests in green technology companies. 03/11/2014

GIB and Equitix Invest in Biomass Boilers for Matthews' Turkey Farms

The United Kingdom (UK) Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Equitix have announced a £24.5m investment to finance the installation of renewable energy boilers at Bernard Matthews' turkey farms. 03/10/2014

Viridor's Runcorn EfW Facility Begins Processing Refuse Derived Fuel

United Kingdom (UK) based Viridor has confirmed that it has begun using refuse derived fuel (RDF) in final commissioning of the first phase at its energy from waste (EfW) facility in Runcorn. 03/10/2014

Methes Energies Manufactures Biodiesel Processor for Aruba Client

Nevada based Methes Energies International Ltd has announced receiving a deposit from Antilla Energy VBA (formally known as BioFuel Aruba) to start manufacturing of a Denami 600 biodiesel processor. 03/10/2014

The Week's Action Items

Due 03/28/2014: Comments to CARB on LCFS Re-Adoption and iLUC

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) conducted two workshops on March 11, 2014, the first addressing the proposed re-adoption of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), and the second exploring preliminary concepts for incorporating indirect land use change (iLUC) impact metrics into the carbon intensity (CI) values of the LCFS. 03/12/2014

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Featured Events:
9th Annual CALIFORNIA BIORESOURCES ALLIANCE SYMPOSIUM June 3-4, 2014 Davis, California

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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