Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume IV, Issue 17, April 28, 2014 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "TerĂº")  

Teru's Trash Talk

The Petroleum Giants are Talkin' Trash again about the little guys who are making alternative fuels. Actually, we should take that as a compliment. When a B-league team shakes up the Big Show, when the guys who paid for the field are nervous they might have to share the spotlight, those in the know start watching the up-and-comers all the more closely. That's the current story with conversion of waste and biomass to alternative fuels and chemicals - even though today's production totals can barely make a dent in the incessant global Need, it still erodes the petro-sourced market share.

There's Trash Talk going around right now that the entire process of making and using biofuel is somehow dirtier than making and using petroleum based gasoline. Dig into those shoddy reports and we can quickly see who is counting what. Remember: what we don't measure, we can't control - so if your team wants to trash talk the other team, you flag around their poorest specs, and keep your own dirty laundry well under wraps.

Yes, yes - poor farming and marketing practices can mess up the Life Cycle Analysis for the B-team's first string, the ethanol producers. If you completely ignore the pervasive global destruction associated with the oil and gas industry and focus all the attention on the worst way to grow and sell corn, you get headlines that read, "Ethanol is worse than Gasoline." That wouldn't make much difference - except that the public seldom reads beyond those headlines. Big Oil knows all too well how that spin game works and has plenty of money to cast those aspersions. "Oil Production is cleaner than Ag Residuals Conversion" - you betcha.

Everything in moderation, folks; we humans have the capacity to screw up even the best effort. Any practice, any technical platform, any piece of equipment can be run clean, or it can be run dirty. Advances in technology and methods teach us how to make things better. Those improvements do come at a substantial cost, and the need to upgrade systems invariably comes right when companies are just starting to make a buck on the older ways. "First Generation" ethanol plants get the job done, but could stand some improvement. Perhaps if they had the scale of subsidies still doled out to the Oil barons, more of our B-Team could afford to use those effective enzyme pre-treatments, and put in those pricey corn-oil separation upgrades.

Thing is, despite being the Alt Fuels B-Team, despite getting meager handouts compared to the lobby-force of the global oil and gas industry, biofuel production is making prime time waves.

Hey Rube!

It's encouraging when the Feds do some of the necessary heavy lifting for waste and biomass conversion project development. The Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado has significantly upgraded its open-access guide to Standard Procedures for Biomass Compositional Analysis. If you are attempting to understand bioenergy development, if you need to figure out what testing is necessary, NREL's worksheets are the place to start. Visit their updated Biomass Analysis Technologies web page to learn about laboratory analytical procedures and to better understand the chemical composition of raw biomass feedstocks and process intermediates for conversion to biofuels. Nice work, NREL; thanks.

This Week's Top Story

W2 Energy's Cambridge Waste Vegetable Oil Biofuel Plant Begins Production

Ontario, Canada based W2 Energy, Inc has announced that the biofuel plant installation at its Cambridge facility is beginning production. 04/25/2014

The Week's News

California Energy Commission Adopts Electric Program Investment Charge

The California Energy Commission (CEC) adopted the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC): Proposed 2015-2017 Triennial Investment Plan on April 22, 2014 at its regularly scheduled board meeting. 04/25/2014

Placer County Approves Biomass Supply Contract for Cabin Creek Facility

The Placer County, California Board of Supervisors at its April 22, 2014 meeting approved a 10 year biomass fuel supply agreement with Tahoe Regional Power Company, LLC (TRPC) for the operation of the proposed Cabin Creek Biomass Facility (CCBF) near Truckee. 04/24/2014

New Video Posted on UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester

A newly released video of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester (READ) explains how their new anaerobic digester is designed to receive and process 50 tons per day / 365 days per year of or organic waste. 04/24/2014

CalRecycle Postpones Workshop on Thermal Conversion of Waste to Energy

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has announced that the workshop on "Thermal Resource Recovery: A Pathway to the Highest and Best Use of Residuals" scheduled for April 29, 2014 has been postponed to time uncertain. 04/23/2014

Virginia City Plant Has Converted 1.1MM Tons of Waste Coal to Energy

Dominion Virginia Power has announced that its Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County has converted nearly 1.1 million tons of waste coal to energy since beginning commercial operation in July 2012. 04/23/2014

Whole Foods Will Convert Food Scraps to Fertilizer with WISErg Technology

Whole Foods Market Bellevue and Redmond, Washington based WISErg Corporation have announced an agreement to deploy the WISErg Harvester unit at the Whole Foods Market in Bellevue, Washington. 04/23/2014

Sustainable Forest Thinning Can Lower Fire Risk and Improve Forest Health

The Arizona branch of the Nature Conservancy and Arizona State University's (ASU) Sustainability Solutions Services met last week with PBS Arizona Horizons to explore results of a recent in-depth analysis of how controlled forest thinning can bring new industries, reduced fire risk, and result in healthier forest to the state. 04/21/2014

The Week's Action Items

Due 05/20/2014: Statewide Wood Energy Team Cooperative Agreements

Due 06/03/2014: Hazardous Fuel Wood to Energy (W2E) Grant Applications

The USDA Forest Service has announced publishing two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) supporting planning, acquisition, and clean conversion to energy of forest-sourced biomass from National Forest System lands. 04/24/2014

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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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