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Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume IV, Issue 14, April 7, 2014 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Push something hard enough and it will come apart; my apologies to the laws of physics. When we want to take apart and re-assemble the molecules from all the discarded resources around us that we used to think of as trash, we need to consider how to cleanly create that crucial burst of energy that convinces those atoms and molecules to let go of each other. We need to add that critical push.

For gooey-wet food waste, that push comes from the microbes, gnawing apart the chunks and digesting them to that combustible greenhouse gas, methane. But those bugs are not so good at eating everything - and they let the woody parts pass right through. When warm and wet won't work, we can turn to hot and dry: we rely on thermal energy to do the take-apart deed.

A wood stove's great for making heat. A really good wood stove makes heat really efficiently with a lot less wood. Buy a wood furnace for a commercial installation and you'll expect that unit to heat water, maybe even make steam. Use the steam to turn a turbine, and you produce power. Now you've got combined heat and power and with enough wood available you can run your whole business.

If you cut back the air supply enough on a wood stove the thing will choke and leave nothing but hot coals, no flame. Add a bit of air and Presto! Up jumps the flame again. Right at the point when the flame goes out, there are still very hot gases coming off the stuff that a moment ago was openly burning. That air / no air balance point is important and quite useful, but has always been difficult to control - tough, that is, until recently. Now we can add all the new computerized sensoring, monitoring, and automatic controls, and maintain that balance point easily, even remotely. Turn down the oxygen, keep those embers hot, and suck off that combustible, hydrocarbon rich gas that would have burnt up in the box otherwise. You've just turned your "combustion system" into a "gasifier".

In the '40s when folks couldn't get fuel for their cars, they figured out they could strap a gasifier on the back bumper, pipe that hot combustible gas to the engine in the front, and keep on truckin'. By now, people have learned how to make almost anything out of that produced gas, depending on what is fed into what sort of gasifier, how it is operated, and what you do with the producer gas that comes out. You can still just use that gas to make combined heat and power, but with a lot less mess than with the old combustion units. If you clean it up, you can use that "synthetic gas" or syngas to run even the most sophisticated engines. Run it across the right sort of reactive "catalyst" and turn the syngas right back into a liquid fuel, or pull the molecules apart and isolate innumerable chemicals. All the stuff we thought we had to make from petroleum, we can make from syngas. Just heat, and serve.

Hey Rube!

All the federal agencies are starting to focus on things that can actually cut the humongous amount of combustible methane gas we waste every day. The White House has kicked off a nation-wide drive to cut those greenhouse gas emissions, especially from landfills and dairies. All good, but we have to wonder how long it'll take 'em to accept that warm-wet / hot-dry rule, and direct the nation's attention to multi-tech integration of all forms of clean waste conversion?

This Week's Top Story

2G CENERGY Will Provide Biogas Cogeneration Plants for Ohio W2E Facility

Florida based 2G CENERGY has announced that it has been selected to supply 9.4MW modular energy conversion systems for a waste-to-energy and resource recovery facility proposed for Grove City, Ohio. 04/04/2014

The Week's News

EESI Lauds White House Methane Reduction Strategy - Landfills High on List

The Washington D.C. based Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) has announced its support of the Obama Administration's "Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions" released late last month. 04/05/2014

2014 Clean Energy Challenge Awards Announced: Top 4 for New WtE Paths

The Clean Energy Trust has announced the winners of the 2014 Clean Energy Challenge business plan competition, which awarded a total of $500,000 to innovative clean energy startups. 04/05/2014

EQTEC Gasified Biomass Power Plant in Bulgaria Will Use GE Technology

GE Power and Water (GE) has announced that a biomass-to-energy gasification plant being built near Stroevo, in Plovdiv province, Bulgaria will be powered by GE's Jenbacher gas engine technology. 04/04/2014

WADE and TXCHPI Merge to Form Cogeneration Industries Council

The World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE) and the Texas Combined Heat and Power Initiative (TXCHPI) have combined to form the new Cogeneration Industries Council (CIC). 04/02/2014

Degrémont to Supply Sewage Sludge Incineration System for R2E2 Project

France based SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT has announced that its subsidiary Degrémont has been awarded a $21 million contract in the United States to design and supply a sewage sludge incineration system. 04/02/2014

First Quad-Generation Project Breaks Ground for Greenhouse Operation

Village Farms International, Inc, in collaboration with Vancouver company Quadrogen Power Systems, Inc and Connecticut based FuelCell Energy, Inc has announced the first ever $7.5 million quad-generation energy project to be realized for a greenhouse operation from fuel cell technology. 04/02/2014

IBI Publishes First State of the Biochar Industry Report for 2013

The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) has announced publication of the first 2013 State of the Biochar Industry Report. 04/01/2014

Fresh Produce Distributor Signs with Harvest Power for Organics-to-Energy

Florida based Harvest Power has announced an agreement with FreshPoint Central Florida to recycle 100 percent of the fresh produce company’s local organic residuals at Harvest Power’s Energy Garden in Central Florida. 04/01/2014

ACORE Releases New Report on Outlook for Renewable Energy in America

The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) has announced the release of its new report, "The Outlook for Renewable Energy in America 2014." 03/31/2014

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