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Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume IV, Issue 12, March 24, 2014 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

We are getting a little better at thinking before tossing, and a lot better at reclaiming discards to put to other uses. The only thing more sustainable than turning waste back into usable goods is not making waste in the first place. But let's be honest. I don't want to eat the potato peels; apples are great but the stems and seeds, not so much … and all that plastic packaging is only a handy wrap until I defrost the meat. Those potato skins and apple cores make great compost. The yoghurt containers are easy: three holes in the bottom, and I've gained a new pot for garden transplants, but I only need so many pots. Try as I might, there will be trash.

At the City and County level, good people 'round the globe are figuring out that those potato peels and apple cores can mean more biogas when added to the digesters they set up to manage their sewage. OK, so we're starting to get the gist of the Food Waste thing. Now let's turn our communal attention to the rest of the trash, the stuff left after all the cans and bottles are picked out, the more stubborn stuff that you can't turn into compost or biogas. It turns out that sheet plastic and styrofoam do dissolve back to their original components, marinated in the right nasty-sauce. We are finding ways to take apart crud at the molecular level, save the bits and pieces, and turn that stuff into fuel and chemicals.

We have learned that if we carefully heat crud without much oxygen we can keep it from torching, then draw off the fumes and put those molecules back into use. Some stuff, all you can do is burn it … but let's remember that burning for energy can actually be a viable last resort. If some of the woody bits and pieces must be burnt, we can use even that part more sanely, for example, as a replacement for old-school coal plant fuel.

One of the more controversial Agency plays is to Just Say No to allowing landfill disposal of organic slop. Pretty drastic, but this tactic has been going on now long enough where we start to see how folks respond when they quit griping. Somebody comes along and puts Business in place to gather up those rotting veggies and make money out of them. It seems to work best when there is more warning, giving sufficient time at least for the partnering, funding, siting, permitting, and construction. But Business won't be able to get enough rot-able crud as long as it is cheaper to just send that goo to a hole in the ground. Somehow, we must stop burying our unwanted and left-over resources out of communal ignorance and desperation.

Nobody really knows how much of the goods we use can be made from the trash we toss. Agencies can estimate the total available biogas in a region, but here's the hitch: as soon as that crud isn't trash any more, as soon as somebody finds a use for another fraction of what is now just "garbage", that discarded stuff magically has Value and the whole game changes.

Hey Rube!

There are lots of opportunities for us to have our say with the Powers That Be. Maybe you think nobody listens, and maybe you are right. But if you don't make the effort and speak up, you most certainly can't claim a voice in the debate. Check our News and Action Items; pick your battles, and have your say.

The Week's Extra Reading

Teru reports on California's next steps for the LCFS from the waste conversion perspective. Be sure to read his Focus Report on the ' Low Carbon Fuel Standard Re-Adoption ' after the court pushed (and released) the pause button.

This Week's Top Story

Anaergia Selected for Biogas Upgrading Facility to Serve 9 WWTPs in Arizona

Canada based Anaergia Inc and its project partner, Arizona company Grannus LLC, have been selected to enter negotiations with the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department (PCRWRD) in Arizona to design-build-finance-own-operate (DBFOO) a large-scale biogas upgrading facility. 03/21/2014

The Week's News

Tamar Energy's New Retford Anaerobic Digestion Facility is Officially Open

United Kingdom (UK) based Tamar Energy Limited has announced that a new anaerobic digestion (AD) facility has been officially opened in Retford, Nottinghamshire by The Rt Hon Greg Barker MP, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change. 03/21/2014

CalRecycle Schedules Workshop Series on Thermal Resource Recovery

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has announced the first in a series of workshops to address thermal conversion of waste to energy. 03/21/2014

GIB Invests in Proposed UK Energy from Waste Facility Near King's Lyon

The United Kingdom (UK) Green Investment Bank (GIB) has announced its commitment to making an investment of £51m into a proposed new energy from waste plant in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. 03/20/2014

Biochar May Be Effective in Removal of Heavy Metal from Acid Wastewater

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute for Urban Environment have found that biochar made from pyrolysis of the organic residuals from anaerobic digestion can be effective in the removal of heavy metal contaminants from acidic industrial wastewater. 03/20/2014

AfDB Launches Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Africa

The Sustainable Energy Forum for Africa (SEFA), a program of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has announced launch of the third Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing (AFRICEF-3) Business Plan Competition with submissions due April 13, 2014. 03/20/2014

Feedstock Supply LOI Signed for Bluesphere's Rhode Island Biogas Plant

Israel and Nevada based Bluesphere Corporation has announced signing a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Massachusetts company Organic Waste Management, LLC for 100-200 tons of organic waste (primarily food waste) per day to supply Bluesphere's proposed 3.2 MW biogas plant.  03/20/2014

Cahill Energy Contracts for Plasma Waste-to-Energy Plant in Barbados

Guernsey based Cahill Energy has announced entering into an agreement with the Government of Barbados to build and operate a clean waste-to-energy plant on the Caribbean island. 03/18/2014

MU Study: Small Biomass Power Plants Could Stabilize National Power Grid

The University of Missouri (MU) has announced a study by MU researchers that has found that creating a bioenergy grid with small biomass power plants could benefit people in rural areas of the country as well as provide relief to an overworked national power grid. 03/18/2014

DTE's Stockton Coal-to-Biomass Power Plant Conversion Complete

DTE Energy Services, Inc (DTEES), a subsidiary of Michigan based DTE Energy Company, has announced completion of the conversion of its shuttered coal-fired power plant to operate on biomass at the Port of Stockton. 03/18/2014

GeoSynFuels Acquires Wyoming Cellulosic Ethanol Demo Plant

Colorado based GeoSynFuels, LLC (GSF) has announced the acquisition of a cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility located in Upton, Wyoming. 03/18/2014

The Week's Action Items

Due 05/25/2014: Qualifications for Kabd MSW Treatment Facility, Kuwait

The Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB) in collaboration with Kuwait Municipality has issued a Request for Qualification for the Kabd Municipal Solid Waste Project (the “Project”). 03/21/2014

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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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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.